Spelt – the health benefits of this ancient and natural grain

spelt-flour-field

You have heard the word spelt, but what exactly is it? In short, it is an ancient grain that was very abundant in Europe and lost it’s place with the introduction of engineered flour. Spelt flour is a substitute to wheat or white flour. It still contains gluten and is richer in many nutrients. It also has a slightly nutty flavour.

History of spelt

Let’s start with the history. Although it  might seem the new boy in town, given it’s new fame, it’s actually quite ancient. Some state that there are references to it in the Bible (Exodus 9:30, Isaiah 28:25, and Ezekiel 4:9) [1]. In what is modern Iran it was probably cultivated around 5000 BC. It was also found in some later Neolithic sites in central Europe [2]. Having said this, it actually hasn’t changed much in all these 7000 years.

You might be asking why does it seem like a new product if it has been around for 7000 years. During the 20th century, and mostly after world war two, there was a radical transformation of wheat. This process that was started by Norman Borlaug who kick-started the Green Revolution [3]. Whilst Borlaug had used natural mutants, those that followed him created artificial mutations. The quest to create a wheat that produced always greater yields had started. Inevitably the new high yield wheat replaced spelt from the fields.

Back in demand

Whilst before it was considered as the poor man’s food, it is now more and more popular especially in health shops. This is because unlike the modified and hybridised wheat, it is still unchanged. It is the same grain humans have been eating for 7000 years. Our body can identify more with a product it has digested for thousands of years.

Spelt looks very much like wheat with some differences. It has a tougher husk, which helps protects the nutrients inside the grain even from insects. Which means there is less need to use pesticide.

spelt-flour-in-hull

Heath benefits of Spelt

There are a number of benefits associated with it’s consumption.

  • Promotes circulation.  This is thanks to the copper and iron content of spelt flour.
  • Strong bones. 250 g of spelt provide 29% of the daily need of phosphorus.
  • Increase energy. Unlike refined carbs which give energy spikes and crashes, spelt is digested more slowly. This will give you energy over a longer time period.
  • Lose weight. Along with releasing energy at a slower rate, spelt has less calories than regular wheat.
  • Support digestion. The high amount of soluble fibre supports digestion and helps bulk up stool and move it through the digestive system.
  • Lower cholesterol levels. It is low in cholesterol and furthermore it is said to lower your cholesterol.
  • Immunity function. The various vitamins and minerals in spelt help boost our immunity system and also help reduce.

Is it gluten free?

The simple answer is NO! Spelt like wheat contains gluten and should not be consumed by people suffering with celiac disease. Whilst it is lower in gluten, it still contains gluten!

However, for those individuals who have wheat allergies or gluten sensitivity, spelt flour may not trigger any symptoms [4]. Consultation with your doctor or nutritionist is always advisable.

Where do you find it?

The great news is that it is quite readily available from health shops and also the specialised sections in supermarkets and over the internet. There also is a greater choice of spelt food available from pasta, bakes, pizza and more. You can also find a number of organic spelt products (an added plus).

spelt-flour-bread-2

DisclaimerThe information and content on this site is intended to be of general informational use. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, medical diagnosis, or medical treatment. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before making any changes in your diet, exercise patter or lifestyle.

 

Author: Darryl Grima

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