Teff originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC. In Egypt, teff seeds were discovered in a pyramid dating back to 3359 BC.
Its scientific name is Eragrostis tef from a Greek word eros meaning love and agrostis for grass – “the grass of love”. Known to be the smallest grain in the world that measures only 1/3 of an inch in diameter. It is so small that it takes 150 grains to equal the weight of a single grain of wheat. It is broadly cultivated in Ethiopia, Australia, India, and in two U.S. states- Idaho and South Dakota.
Teff grass is a tufted annual with a fine stem that grows to a meter in height and characterized by a large crown, many shoots and a shallow root system. It flowers from August to September and the seeds ripen in October. Teff is a very reliable and low risk crop that can adapt to a drought stressed or water logged environment and can germinate quickly. In just twelve weeks, a pound of teff can produce a ton of grain. Three thousand grains weigh one gram. Because they are so small, the grain consists mainly of bran and germ which makes them so nutritious. Teff grain comes in different colors like tan, white/ivory, and reddish brown. It has a mild, nutty sweetness.
In terms of nutritional content, teff is a powerhouse. This superfood is very rich in calcium content and is in fact 17 times more than whole wheat and bran. Other essential mineral it holds include copper, iron, phosphorus, aluminum and barium. It is crammed with protein, carbohydrate and fiber. Teff grain contains all nine amino acids and its lysine level is higher than bran and wheat. Its vitamin content includes, vitamin C, Thiamin and Riboflavin. Other good points of teff…. It has ZERO sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol and very low in sodium. Teff grain does not contain gluten and easier to digest so it’s ideal for individuals with gluten intolerance.
Do not underestimate the size of this tiny grain as this mighty grain gives you excellent health benefits. It contains high amount of resistant starch that improves gut health by feeding on good bacteria which benefits colon health and weight control. This grain has a relatively low glycemic index making it perfect for diabetics in regulating their sugar level. Teff helps in protecting your bones and avoid osteoporosis as it is packed with calcium. It is anti-inflammatory and is known to lessen PMS symptoms.
Teff grain is a relatively safe food for everyone. However, it is best to seek advice from a health provider when using as medication.
Teff grain fun fact: In the late 1800s, the light colored teff grains are consumed by the upper class and the dark colored teff grains are for soldiers and servants.
Do your health a favor, get teff in your diet!
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