If you’ve enjoyed a meal at an Ethiopian restaurant, chances are you’ve sampled injera — a soft, slightly sour bread on which many Ethiopian dishes are served. Injera is traditionally made from teff flour. Teff is a gluten-free grain native to the area and Epicurious predicts it will be one of 2017’s major food trends. Not only does teff make delicious bread, it also has many health benefits.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of cutting out or reducing the amount of gluten in your diet. Gluten can be inflammatory. For some, it can be a contributor to digestive health concerns. Teff, on the other hand, is gluten-free. This means many people will find it easier to digest than gluten-containing grains. And of course, it is a good choice for those with Celiac or other sensitivities to gluten.
Teff’s high fiber content means it will help to promote healthy digestion. The fiber acts as a natural laxative. Teff has the ability to relieve constipation, bloating, cramping and other gastrointestinal problems. Fiber helps waste to pass more quickly through the digestive tract, which helps prevent indigestion. This, combined with the fact that it is gluten-free, makes teff a good choice for digestive health.
If your New Year’s resolution is to shed a few pounds, teff is a beneficial grain to chose. Viscous fiber may help to curb your appetite, meaning you’ll be more likely to eat smaller meals. And high-fiber carbohydrates are better for weight loss than those lower in fiber, which the body tends to process more like sugar.
Teff contains vitamin B6, which can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin B6 regulates levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that we get from eating protein sources. High levels of it are associated with inflammation and an increased risk of developing heart conditions. Without adequate amounts of vitamin B6, homocysteine can build up enough to lead to heart attack or stroke. A 1999 study found that vitamin B6, along with folate, significantly reduces homocysteine concentrations.
Teff is high in manganese, which is necessary for the proper production of the digestive enzymes responsible for gluconeogenesis — the process of converting amino acids into sugar and balancing blood sugar levels. Manganese helps to prevent high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes. A 2013 study from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center tested manganese supplementation in mice. After 12 weeks, the mice that were given manganese experienced better glucose tolerance than the control group.
Protein has a number of health benefits. It can help us to properly build muscle mass, maintain stable blood sugar levels, keep our energy levels up, prevent deficiency of certain amino acids, promote healthy brain function and balance hormones. But it is beneficial to have diversity when it comes to our sources of protein. It is a good idea to include plant-based protein sources in your regular diet, as well as a moderate amount of high-quality meat and dairy products.
As mentioned, teff is high in B vitamins. It is also rich in essential minerals, which means it can help to boost your immune system. For example, thiamine can help to maintain proper muscle tone in the muscles of the digestive tract, which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Thiamine also supports healthy digestion, meaning the body can more efficiently extract nutrients from food. In turn, those nutrients support immunity.
Teff is high in calcium, which can help to relieve PMS symptoms. It is also rich in phosphorous, which can help to balance hormones. And its high copper content can help to boost energy levels, which can be beneficial for women who feel sluggish around the time of menstruation.
Teff is rich in iron, which is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to other cells in your body. A 2008 study found that iron deficiency anemia can result in a number of negative health outcomes, including some related to oxygenation, like reduced exercise capacity. This is important because iron deficiency is very prevalent worldwide.
Make teff flour a regular part of your diet
Clearly, teff has a number of beneficial health effects. Many consider injera to be delicious and teff can be used as a gluten-free flour in a wide range of baked goods. Its high fiber content and nutrient density make it a healthier choice than processed and refined flours. It is often available at Whole Foods and other health food stores. It is also readily available for purchase online. If you’re looking to upgrade your diet, including teff flour is one beneficial and relatively simple step that you can take.
— Sarah Cooke