What is Spelt?
Spelt is an ancient grain that is native to southern Europe and is scientifically known as Triticum spelta. It is a subspecies of wheat and is similar to it in appearance but has a stronger husk and a slightly different nutrient profile.
One cup of spelt contains 246 calories, 10.7 grams of protein, 1.7 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbs, 7.5 grams of fiber, 92% of the daily value manganese, 23% of the daily value of phosphorus, 31% of the daily value of niacin and 23% of the daily value of magnesium, 22% of the daily value of zinc and 18% of the daily value of iron.(1)
Additionally, it contains copper, selenium, and vitamin B1. It is high in carbs and is an excellent dietary fiber source. Compared with wheat, spelt is slightly higher in protein, fat, insoluble, and total fiber.(2)
6 Amazing Health Benefits of Spelt
Adding spelt to the diet also adds numerous health benefits.
Improves Cholesterol Level
Food rich in soluble fiber reduces the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the bloodstream. The research was done in the past showed that soluble dietary fiber brings down the level of total and low-density lipids or bad cholesterol.(3) A study conducted in 2015 showed that eating food rich in dietary fiber can increase the high-density lipid levels.(4) Researchers show that the higher the fiber intake greater is the high-density lipid cholesterol.
Reduces Blood Pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults in the United States has hypertension.(5) Spelt is rich in dietary fiber and eating it may reduce hypertension. A study done in 2005 showed that fiber supplementation reduces blood pressure and was found to benefit adults more than 40 years of age and in younger adults.(6)
Improves Heart Health
According to the American Heart Association intake of dietary fiber lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.(7) Research shows dietary fiber reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease.(8) A meta-analysis was done and it was found people who ate grains more had a 21 percent lower risk of heart disease.(9) Another analysis revealed higher intake of whole grain reduced the risk of stroke.(10)
Fiber is essential for digestion and eases the passage of stool. It is also essential to reduce constipation and diarrhea and other digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and hemorrhoids.
Research shows that a high fiber diet reduces the risk of diverticular disease that affects the colon and also reducs the risk of its complications.(11) Some people with irritable bowel syndrome might not be able to tolerate spelt as it is rich in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are FODMAPs.
Plays a Role in Weight Management
Eating a high-fiber diet helps a person achieve or maintain a healthy weight. It keeps the people full for a longer time.(12) Even simple changes such as increasing 30 grams of fiber in the diet can aid weight loss.(13) It was also noted by the researchers that increasing fiber intake may help people stick to it rather than following a complicated diet plan.
Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
Studies show that intake of food rich in fiber reduces the risk of diabetes or helps people in managing their symptoms. Fiber slows down digestion and reduces blood sugar surge. A review found eating 2 servings of whole grains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.(14) Refined grains such as white bread do not provide similar protection.
Spelt may not benefit people who already have diabetes directly but may help them with reducing weight and the risk of heart disease which are the common complication of diabetes.
How to Use Spelt?
Spelt can be used in the form of flour to bake bread, thicken sauces, and gravy and can also be eaten as a side dish, breakfast cereal, and in stews.
It has a mild nutty flavor and can be used as an alternative to wheat. It can also be used as a substitute for other carbs such as potatoes and rice in many dishes.
In many recipes spelt can be used instead of wheat flour.
However, spelt contains gluten and can never be a good option for those with gluten intolerance or wheat allergy.