What is Teff Flour?
Teff flour is a traditional grain in Ethiopia and its staple food, which is extremely nutritious and gluten-free.(1) This grain can grow in a range of environmental conditions and is available in both dark and lighter varieties, brown and ivory being the most common.(2) Teff flour is commonly used in the form of flour for cooking and baking. It has a nutty and earthy flavor and the lighter varieties have slightly sweet flavor as well. Teff is highly nutritious and its 100 grams flour provides:(3)
- 366 calories
- 12.2 grams protein
- 3.7 grams fat
- 70.7 grams carbohydrates
- 12.2 grams fiber
- 37% of the daily value of iron
- 11% of the daily value of calcium
The nutrition may vary depending on the grounding area and brand. Still, compared to the other grains it is known to be a good source of copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. It is also an excellent source of protein as it has all essential amino acids that are the building blocks of protein in the body.(4)
How is Teff Flour Used?
Being very small in size, teff is eaten as a whole grain, rather than being split into germ, bran, and kernel. It can also be grounded and used as a gluten-free flour.
It is used by fermenting with yeast that lives on the surface of the grains and is used in making sourdough flatbread called injera. It serves as a base for Ethiopian meals.
Teff flour can be used as an alternative to wheat flour and can be used in baking bread and manufacturing pasta. It can also be used in numerous other dishes such as cakes, muffins, bread, and also gluten-free egg noodles.
As it is gluten-free, the products made from teff flour may not be as chewy as those made from wheat flour.
Teff flour contains some of the nutrients that may be difficult to be absorbed as they are bound to phytic acid. The effect of these can be reduced through Lacto-fermentation.(5)
Health Benefits of Teff Flour
Teff flour has several benefits that make it a healthy addition to the diet.
High in Dietary Fiber
Teff flour is high in dietary fiber. Studies show that most of the teff flour has insoluble fiber, which passes through the gut undigested. This increases the stool volume and aids bowel movement.(6) It draws water into the gut thereby softening the stool. It also feeds the healthy gut bacteria and is involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
Rich in Iron
Iron is an essential mineral that plays the role of carrying oxygen throughout the body through red blood cells. Teff is extremely rich in iron. It is seen that intake of teff decreases the rate of anemia in pregnant women and helps in preventing iron deficiency.(8,9) Also, as teff contains phytic acid, all of its iron is not absorbed by the body.
Has Lower Glycemic Index than Wheat Products
The glycemic index indicates how much a food raises blood sugar. Foods with a glycemic index of 70 are considered high, which means they raise blood sugar more quickly.
A low glycemic index diet is considered to be effective for people with diabetes.(10) Teff when cooked has a low glycemic index when compared with other grains. This lower glycemic index is because it is eaten as whole grain. The glycemic index of injera ranges from 79-99 which is high but lower than the bread made from wheat, quinoa, or buckwheat.(1)
Downsides of Teff Flour
The production of teff flour is limited which makes it more expensive than other gluten-free flour. In some restaurants, wheat flour is added to the teff flour to make pizza or bread to make it more economical.
Those with celiac disease should ensure that pure teff flour is used without any gluten-containing product.
Teff is a traditional grain of Ethiopia and a good alternative to wheat flour. It is available as gluten-free flour and can be a good and healthy addition to bread and pasta for those looking for gluten-free options.