While teff is a seed and not actually a grain at all, it can be used in many of the same ways. Also, it boasts a few nutritional advantages that aren’t found in a lot of other grains as well as some universal wholegrain benefits. It’s worth asking why teff is all of the sudden surfacing as a healthy option. Teff is not new but has been relatively unknown in developing countries until now. But now that it has our full attention, we’re noticing things that make it a nice addition to a healthy diet (Percentages based on 1/2 cup of uncooked teff).
Teff’s mother country, Ethiopia, is famous for its long-distance runners. Some attribute the health of these runners to teff. Ethiopians get about two-thirds of their protein from this tiny grain. In 1/2 cup teff, our bodies can access 23-28% of our daily value for protein.
Teff is a good source of dietary fiber including resistant starch which is a recently discovered class of fiber that helps us manage blood sugar, weight, and, colon health. In just a half cup we get 7.7g of fiber which is about 20-30% of our daily value. This can help keep our digestive systems running smoothly.
Teff contains no gluten and thus can provide many of the health benefits and food that we’re used to without damaging our digestive system.
Teff is good news for our muscular, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. It contains 42.3% of our daily value of magnesium. Magnesium is a cofactor for many of our body processes and can help us avoid things like migraines, heart attacks, and diabetes.
We can access 29% of our daily value of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin) in a half cup of teff. Vitamin B6 helps out all over the place. Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, CD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association explained the function of vitamin B6. “It is important for cardiovascular, digestive, immune, muscular, and nervous system function. It is one of the vitamins that are behind the scenes.”
Zinc is an ally to our immune systems and genetic code. It helps us fight off disease and builds proteins. A serving of teff can provide 31.8% of our needed zinc.
And the winner is tiny teff! Aside from Hemp Hearts, teff leads the grains in calcium content (173.5g/half cup or 13.3%RDV). This is over 5 times more than modern wheat. We all know what that means for our bones and teeth!
This is something special about teff. Most grains don’t boast vitamin C content. But teff is actually a good source of the vitamin so crucial to our immune system, body tissues, and skeletal system.