Teff is a small, gluten-free grain (about the size of a poppy seed) that comes in a variety of colours (white, red and brown) with a long list of health benefits. It’s a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia, where it’s an important grain and used to make injera.
We work with a company called Lovegrass to source the teff for our bakery school. Lovegrass work directly with small Ethiopian farmers to support sustainable farming and have a teff farm themselves. Yonas the Founder of Lovegrass grew up farming teff with his family. We thoroughly recommend you source all your teff from them to support Ethiopian farming.
Between 8000 and 5000 BC, the people of the Ethiopian highlands were among the first to domesticate plants and animals for food. Teff was one of the earliest plants domesticated.
The grain has a very mild, nutty flavour and packs a serious nutritional punch. Teff has an excellent balance of amino acids and it is also high in protein, calcium, and iron. Ground into flour, teff is used to make the traditional bread, injera: a flat, pancake-like, fermented bread that complements the exotic spices found in the regional food. We ground it into flour to make our gluten-free Chia Teff Loaf. Teff can also be eaten whole and steamed, boiled, or baked as a side dish or a main course.
Our Founder Karen first discovered teff 10 years ago when she began playing around with different grains, nuts and seeds to get rid of her IBS. Since then she has been hooked on its anti-inflammatory benefits, its nutritional benefits and its taste!
One of the main reasons we're so obsessed with Teff at The Happy Tummy Co. is because it's a great source of prebiotic fibre which stimulates the growth of good gut bacteria in the gut keeping you in better gut health.
Teff is also a great source of protein and essential amino acids making it great for muscle recovery and the building of muscle.
Teff is also an important source of water soluble vitamins, especially vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. In contrast to other cereals Teff also contains vitamin C. Teff is also high in essential minerals - magnesium, calcium and zinc.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is vital for the breakdown of food, especially carbohydrates for the release of energy. It helps maintain the muscle tone along the walls of the digestive tract, where much of the immune system is located. Because thiamine aids digestion, it allows the body to extract nutrients from food more easily; these nutrients are used to boost immunity and defend the body from illness. Thiamine helps in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which is essential for the complete digestion of food particles and absorption of nutrients.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is essential for the release of energy from foods and for healthy skin, eyes and growth.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) is vital for energy release in tissues and cells. The body is capable of synthesizing niacin from the essential amino acid thryptophan found in teff.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxin) plays an essential role in the metabolism of protein. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid acquired from eating protein sources, and high levels of homocysteine in the blood is linked to inflammation and the development of heart conditions. Without enough vitamin B6, homocysteine builds up in the body and damages blood vessel linings; this can set the stage for dangerous plaque buildup, resulting in the threat of a heart attack or stroke.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is involved in a great number of processes in the human body. It is important for the production of collagen. Ascorbic acid also helps to absorb iron and it functions as an anti-oxidant, protecting the body from the harmful effects of too many free radicals.
Teff can also help manage diabetic symptoms as it slows the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Consuming one cup of teff supplies the body with more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of manganese. Manganese is needed to help with proper production of digestive enzymes responsible for a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis involves the conversion of protein’s amino acids into sugar and the balance of sugar within the bloodstream. Manganese has been shown to help prevent high blood sugar levels that can contribute to diabetes.
To synopsise, Teff naturally balances hormone levels, boosts immunity, stimulates digestion, strengthens bones, promotes cardiovascular health and aids weight loss. It is our favourite superfood at HQ!
Due to its impressive health benefits lots of countries are now farming teff. However, we are working with small Ethiopian farmers through Lovegrass going forward so as to give back to the motherland of teff and contribute to the industry there.