Teff is a form of grain that has been used for centuries. Small in size, it packs a nutritious punch and is gaining prominence in the health industry. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, measuring only 1/32 of an inch in diameter. The name teff was derived from the word “teffa”, meaning lost. This meaning refers to the extremely small nature of the grain and how easily it can become “lost” if dropped. In English, teff is also referred to as “love grass” or “annual bunch grass”.

Properties of Teff
Teff can provide humans with more fiber rich bran and nutritious germ than any other known grain! Its high mineral content supplies 17 times the calcium of barley or wheat. One single grain of wheat is equivalent to 150 grams of teff. This is due to the high nutritional content of teff. In any form of grain, nutrients are concentrated in the bran and germ. In teff, the germ and bran make up the bulk of each grain. Teff is much to small to hull, meaning that the nutritive properties stay intact and are not thrown away during the hulling process.

Teff Worldwide
In Ethiopian and Erithean diets, teff is the traditional grain used for cooking. It is the primary ingredient of injera, a sour pancake bread, which composes the base for almost every meal. To form injera, flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for a few days. This process is very similar in nature to sourdough breads and creates the slightly sour taste in the final bread.

Domestication of Teff
Like many grains throughout history, the exact date of teff’s domestication is unknown. Teff’s use can be recounted throughout Ethiopian and Erithean history with its domestication occurring before the birth of Christ. Historic accounts and notes, lead us to believe that teff originated in northeastern Africa and was most likely domesticated in western Ethiopia.

Nutrition of Teff
Teff is similar to millet, though it contains higher volumes of amino acids, including lysine. Teff’s lysine content is higher than all cereals except rice and oats. It also has a high calcium content, phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamin. Teff is easily absorbed by the body, adding to its excellent nutritious properties.

Amino Acid Content

Teff is considered to contain an excellent variety of amino acids. Out of the 8 essential amino acids necessary for the human body, teff contains all 8. Teff has higher levels of lysine than both wheat and barley. Because of this diversity, teff stimulates the flora of the large intestine. Teff contains no gluten and is high in fiber and carbohydrates. Teff provides Celiac patients with a safe alternative to wheat.