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  • Jefferson Adams

    Researchers Use Teff to Develop New Gluten-free Biscuit

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 09/06/2012 - Researchers at the Department of Food Technology of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have used teff flour to develop a new biscuit they claim is suitable for "celiac patients and sportsmen."

    Teff (Eragrostis tef) is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass, native to the northern Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands of Northeast Africa. Flour made from teff grains has been used in local bread products for centuries.



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    Photo: CC--Ryan KilpatrickBefore you picture a light, fluffy, fresh-from-the-oven biscuit, it's important to remember that the Europeans use the term biscuit for what Americans call a 'cracker.' So, the final product is likely something drier and crunchier than the American biscuit, and much more like an American cracker.

    The developers have applied for a patent on their process, and say that manufacturers will be able to use the process to create new products once it is granted.

    One of the current challenges for manufacturers of gluten-free foods is to modify their production process in order to mimic the natural, chewy, elastic properties that are inherent to wheat flour. That challenge is one reason so many gluten-free products are dry and brittle.

    That is not true of this new product, say the researchers. Unlike many non-wheat flours, teff has a "high capacity to absorb water and act also as binder in the dough, alleviating the problems deriving from the absence of gluten in cereal,” said the researchers.

    According to the research team, 100g of teff contains between 9 and 15 grams of protein, 73 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber.

    This means that their product needs no added fats or artificial thickeners commonly used in other gluten-­free foods, which reduces calories and improves texture and flavor. Moreover, the biscuits can be made using existing manufacturing processes.

    Teff also has a remarkable essential amino acids profile, note the researchers. It is high in zinc and iron, and has a naturally low glycemic index, resulting in a slow breakdown of its carbohydrates.

    The resulting product, they say, will appeal to athletes, diabetics and people with anemia, and celiac disease, and will likely sell at a lower price than similar products.

    Other than teff flour, the biscuits also include skimmed milk, non­fat plain yogurt, brown sugar, defatted cocoa powder, orange zest and hazelnuts.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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