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What is Teff?
Teff is a grain that is native to Ethiopia. Maybe you’ve never heard of teff before. That wouldn’t necessarily be surprising. It’s relatively new on the nutrition scene in America even though the food is said to have originated between 4,000 BC and 1,000 BC. This grain, recently being touted for its superfood qualities, is traditionally used in making injera, an Ethiopian flatbread.
Is Teff Paleo?
Because teff is a grain, it is therefore not technically considered Paleo. Read more about why grains are excluded on the Paleo diet here.
That being said, teff is gluten free and many people consider it a good alternative to quinoa. Many nutrition experts also consider teff to be of higher quality than other grains commonly consumed in the western world. Let’s explore this reasoning.
Pros of Teff
There are some positive things that teff has going for it despite the fact that it’s a grain. The first is that it’s gluten free. Gluten is one of the most potent anti-nutrients that has the potential to damage the intestinal lining and compromise the health of the immune system. Teff is considered nutrient-dense with a high fiber and protein content as well as many important micronutrients.
When compared to other grains, teff also has a lower phytic acid content. Phytic acid is another common anti-nutrient found in grains that inhibits the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc.
Also, injera (how teff is commonly consumed) is traditionally fermented. The fermentation of the teff in this flatbread recipe decreases the phytic acid content as well. Mark Sisson, of Mark’s Daily Apple, recommends to inquire about the preparation of injera if you choose to eat it at an Ethiopian restaurant. In many cases, wheat flour is used instead of teff due to the high cost of the grain.
The Bottom Line
Because it falls in the grain family, teff is not Paleo. That being said, it is a higher quality grain than most that are consumed in the standard American diet. Injera and other teff recipes could be considered “good” cheats because of the benefits it boasts. If you choose to consume it, do so in moderation and stick to traditionally-prepared recipes.
Explore our other “Is it Paleo?” posts to get a full grasp on all the Paleo-friendly (and not-so friendly) foods and be sure to download paleo.io – the #1 Paleo app on the market.. Get a quick and simple explanation or dive deep into the reasons as to why certain foods are and are not considered paleo right from your phone.
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