Ethiopian Superfood: 10 Reasons Why Teff Is The New Quinoa

Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 2 Comments

By Mark Hay | Good

teff benefitsThese days everybody knows quinoa. The once obscure Andean grain started gaining traction in Western kitchens in the 1980s, exploding into ubiquity in the mid-2000s as a gluten-free superfood. In recognition of its health benefits—especially compared to other grains like wheat—and the boon that global demand has created for Bolivian and Peruvian farmers, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.” But just a year after this crowning glory, quinoa may already have to step down as the world’s favorite cereal. There’s a new superfood grain gaining traction in kitchens worldwide that is in many respects healthier and more ethical than quinoa. It’s called teff.

Cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea for anywhere between three and six thousand years, teff is best known as the main ingredient in the Horn of Africa’s spongy, sour injera flatbread. But fermentation actually gives injera its signature flavor and texture, not teff itself, which on its own has a mild and nutty flavor. The poppy seed-sized grain, the world’s smallest, punches far above its weight nutritionally, providing up to two-thirds the protein and nutrients in a daily Ethiopian diet. It’s no wonder why they call teff Ethiopia’s second gift to the world (the first being coffee). As the teff harvest season approaches for 6.3 million Ethiopian farmers, it’s not hard to imagine that the grain will finally become a household name in 2014. Here are just 10 reasons why teff could overtake quinoa as the new “it” grain.


1. Like quinoa, teff is a gluten-free grain, making life easier for those with celiac disease or alternative diets.

2. Since teff’s rise around 2006, the Ethiopian government has prudently restricted exports to maintain food security. This means that, as with quinoa, consumers can be sure that their purchase benefits small farmers in the developing world.

3. Of all the gluten-free grains, though, teff is one of the most nutritionally impressive. Teff leads all grains in calcium content and contains all eight vital amino acids. It’s high in iron and protein. It’s low in sodium, bad fat, and cholesterol. Although quinoa has more magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorous, and potassium (and contains less carbs or sugar than teff), the Ethiopian grain dwarfs its Andean counterpart in calcium, copper, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, thiamin, vitamin K, and zinc. Quinoa’s oxalates and phytic acid—which bind minerals, limiting their absorption by our bodies—offsets its advantages.

4. The higher carbohydrate content in teff is also mainly resistant starch, a newly discovered dietary fiber that’s good for blood sugar management, weight control, and colon health. Quinoa’s carbs are mainly starch and insoluble fiber.

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  1. blue_dog_42@hotmail.com' Roland Chapman says:

    we own and run a Gluten Free Bakery and we make and bake TEFF BREAD.w call it now Total T

  2. silvio.fontana@bigpond.com' silvio fontana says:

    I am surprised, but then again should not be surprised when I read article highlighting the benefits of a different, and in some way, new, food source.
    Why am I surprised, because, the author of this article talks about BAD FAT and cholesterol without highlighting or informing us, the readers what they actually mean by bad fat and cholesterol.
    You, the author, if you are genuine in reporting healthy lifestyle foods, should come up to speed on issues of cholesterol, fats in general, because it is obvious you write the same dibble without knowing the real issues relating to fats and cholesterol.
    One thing from your article is correct, and that is that Teff is an alternative to gluten and the benefits of resistant starch is also worth investigating due to the effects of this on our microbiome, which, is fundamental in maintaining our immune system on so many levels. Please do your homework and dont include details that you know very little about.

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