Tag Archives: superfoods

What Exactly Is the New Superfood Teff?

Ingredient Du Jour: Teff

What Exactly is the New Superfood Teff?

Anyone who has ever tried Ethiopian food has likely eaten injera, the spongy sourdough flatbread that serves as a plate, utensil, and food at the same time. For millennia, people from Ethiopia and other eastern African countries have made this nutritious bread from teff, a tiny grain that has been gaining traction in the United States as the next big superfood.

Whether your family has been eating teff for generations, or you’re trying it for the first time, teff does seem to have significant health benefits, including these:

Teff is tiny—the size of a poppy seed. Its small size has been a boon to semi-nomadic eastern African farmers because a handful can sow a whole field. It can thrive in both droughts and flooded soils, and at elevations up to 3,000 meters. Its versatility and quick growing time (sprouting in 36 hours and ready to harvest in 12 weeks) have contributed to its outsized role in eastern African diets; in Ethiopia alone, it accounts for about 15 percent of all calories consumed.

In the United States, interest in teff has rocketed in recent years. However, until recently, Ethiopia has had a ban on exporting teff, so most of the teff that US consumers use comes from other places, including Idaho, India, and Australia. And many people are using teff in new and exciting ways:  in pancakes, as porridge, and when ground, as a replacement for wheat flour.

Ready to try teff? Check out these recipes, and look for it as an ingredient in items marked as The Right Choice … for a Healthier You™, USConnect’s nutritional guideline program.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… It’s a Superfood!

Foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals are often called superfoods.  Superfoods may also contain antioxidants, substances that prevent or delay cell damage and help prevent disease.  Some people also claim that superfoods have incredible health benefits, today's superfoodssuch as lowering the risk of cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimers.   It could just be good marketing—these extraordinary claims have yet to be supported by scientific research—but experts do agree that a nutritious diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health.   At a minimum, superfoods are natural, unprocessed foods that can play a leading role in a nutritious and healthy diet.

Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C.  Blueberries are also a natural anti-inflammatory. Looking for something more exotic? Try açai, a small purple berry with high levels of antioxidants.  Because it is native to South America, it is not usually found fresh here in the United States, so it is usually seen in smoothies and juices.  Another option is goji berries, which are small, red-orange berries high in Vitamin C.  Native to Asia, they are sold here dried or in powders and drinks.

Kale is the current star vegetable, packed with lutein, potassium, and vitamins A and K.  It is served raw in salads and smoothies or sautéed with apples and onions.  If kale is old news, try mustard greens, which are also high in vitamin A and C.  Other trendy choices include seaweed, such as kelp used to roll sushi.  Seaweed contains omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that assist in digestion.  Yogurt is the most common source of probiotics, but they are also found in sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kefir.

Chia seeds are a hot new superfood because they contain fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, and antioxidants.  Yes, it’s the same seed that was used to grow a “Chia Pet,” but they can be mixed into granola and tossed into smoothies for a superfood nutrition boost.