Life Extension Magazine®
Bowl of spelt grain rich in protein and fiber

Superfood: Spelt

The ancient grain spelt has more protein and fat than typical wheat and is a good source of fiber. Studies show spelt reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

By Laurie Mathena.

Spelt is an ancient grain that was one of the first forms of wheat used to make bread. While it’s been grown in Europe for hundreds of years, it only made its way to the United States about 100 years ago.

Because spelt has remained largely unaltered, it is considered to be a healthier option than ordinary wheat.

Spelt has more protein and fat than typical wheat, and it is a good source of fiber, iron, and zinc.

Two large meta-analyses found that having a high intake of whole grains like spelt, compared with a low intake, was associated with:

  • 14% reduced risk of stroke1
  • 12% reduced risk of coronary heart disease2

Consuming high-fiber foods like spelt has been shown to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol,3 while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.4 And supplementation with fiber has been shown to lower blood pressure.5

Because whole grain foods can slow digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes, studies suggest that they can reduce the risk of diabetes. In fact, one study showed that having a high intake of whole grains was associated with a reduced risk of type II diabetes.6

Eating spelt could also help with weight management, since high fiber foods can help you feel fuller longer.

Spelt flour can be substituted for wheat flour in recipes, although it does have a nuttier flavor. You can also enjoy whole spelt grains as a side dish, breakfast cereal, or in stews.

Since spelt is a type of wheat, it does contain gluten. This means it should be avoided by anyone with a gluten sensitivity or a condition such as celiac disease.

Be sure to choose whole grain spelt as opposed to refined spelt, which has a high glycemic index and can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.

References

  1. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(9):16978-83.
  2. Am J Cardiol. 2015 Mar 1;115(5):625-9.
  3. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jan;69(1):30-42.
  4. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Apr 29;12(5):4726-38.
  5. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Jan 24;165(2):150-6.
  6. Eur J Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;28(11):845-58.