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The nutritional value of teff

Teff The nutritional value of teff grain is similar to traditional cereals, it is considered to have excellent amino acid composition (all eight) with lysine levels higher than that of wheat or barley and slightly less than that of rice or oats. Mineral levels are higher particularly iron, but teff is totally gluten free ideal for those with a gluten intolerance ie Coeliac Disease.

Coeliac disease is the body’s reaction in the small intestine to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat and similar crops like barley and rye.

When exposed to gliadin, enzymes modify this protein and the immune system reacts with tissues in the small bowel, causing an inflammatory reaction that leads to a tuncating reaction in the lining of the small intestine. This then interferes with the absorbtion ability of nutrients.

This disorder can occour in all people from middle infancy upwards. The symptoms are abdominal distension, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss (or stunted growth in children), and fatigue though these may be absent. Symptoms in other organ systems have also been seen. Due to increased screening, a growing number are being diagnosed in asymptomatic people.

Teff is a very versatile grain, when uncooked it can be added to most baked foods or substituted for nuts and other grains. Because of its small size and high density, less teff is used compared to other grains, cooked teff is not gelatinous and adds body to puddings and pastries. It’s a good thickener for soups, stews and gravies. Teff is mild and has a slightly molasses-like sweetness making it easy to use for making breads, biscuits, cookies and cakes, stir fry dishes and casseroles.

Teff is an important source of water soluble vitamins, especially vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. In contrast to other cereals Teff also contains vitamin C.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is vital for the breakdown of food, especially carbohydrates for the release energy.

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.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxin) plays an essential role in the protein metabolism. Major sources are whole grain food products like bread.

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.

Carbohydrates These provide energy for the body. Many whole-grain carbohydrates are good sources of essential vitamins, minerals and other essential phytonutrients that are essential for good health and that you can’t get out of a supplement bottle(ii)

Starch This can be classified in rapidly digestible (RDS), slowly digestible (SDS) and resistant starch (RS), dependant on the rate of starch breakdown into glucose by digestion enzymes in vitro (iii). The role of RS on health and weight loss is discussed, however there is still a lack of comprehensive data in humans (iv). RDS normally results in rapid available glucose in the human body. However, the digestion in the gut is more complex and influenced by more mechanisms(vi)

A new system classifying carbohydrates in relation to health is called the Glycemic Index (GI). It measures how fast and how far blood sugar (glucose) rises after you eat a food containing carbohydrates. A high GI is 70 or more, a low GI is less than 55. All relevant information on GI can be found at www.glycemicindex.com

Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by intestinal enzymes. Dietary fibers enhance the satiety(ix) and consequently can play a positive role in weight control.

Teff contains typically 25% fibers (8% dietary fibers + 17% resistant starch) 30% slowly digestible starch and 10% rapidly digest able starch.

Protein is a major food component for good health. Proteins are composed of amino acids. Typically in the human body 350g of protein per day are broken down into amino acids. Most of the amino acids are recycled in the body, but some is excreted via urine. An amount of about 0.9g per kg of body weight is recommended.

The protein content of Teff is typically 12-14% (on weight). The amino acid composition is relatively high in essential amino acids. Teff delivers a surplus on all essential amino acids and is consequently a very good source.

Minerals

Calcium is mostly stored in the bones. The recommended daily in take of Teff is 900mg.
Iron Major sources of iron are meat (especially liver), poultry, fish, mussels, dark-green vegetables and whole-grain products. Intake levels of iron are not within reach of common food consumption patterns. the daily recommended in- take is about 12mg.

Zinc plays an important role in many hundreds of biological process in the human body, as well as the functioning of Vitamin A, the metabolism of carbohydrates, alcohol and fatty acids.

Magnesium plays important roles in the structure of the human body. The adult body contains about 25g of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in more many essential reactions, such as energy production, ion transport. Because magnesium is part of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium. Unrefined grains and nuts also have high magnesium content.

The major part of the recommended daily in take of minerals is covered by Teff when eaten normal portions, meaning that Teff is an essential daily food product for providing the body with these important nutrients.

Whole grains represent a unique combination of energy, micro nutrients and phytochemicals that work together as a ‘whole-grain package’ to promote health.

– Source: Tobia Teff