Health Benefits Of Spelt: Why You Should Add This Ancient Grain To Your Diet

Health Benefits Of Spelt
Spelt Flour with seeds as detailed close-up shot

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“Advertisements 3. Aids Weight Management If you’re on a diet, adding whole grain spelt in your diet will help you achieve your weight loss goals. The reason behind this could be its fiber content. High-fiber foods have been found to keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating. Resea…”

A Southern European ancient alternative, albeit not gluten-free, to wheat, spelt’s presence on the shelves of most grocery stores stands testimony to its popularity. Its mellow, nutty flavor lends itself well to bread, pasta, cookies, and even cakes. Here’s why we think you should experiment with spelt.

1. Promotes Heart Health

Including spelt in your diet might protect your heart health. One study, conducted on 247,487 people, found that people who consumed the most amount of whole grains, like spelt, were 14% less likely to have a stroke.[ref]Fang, Liqun, Wen Li, Wenjie Zhang, Yanan Wang, and Songbin Fu. “Association between whole grain intake and stroke risk: evidence from a meta-analysis.” International journal of clinical and experimental medicine 8, no. 9 (2015): 16978.[/ref] Similarly, an analysis of over 14,000 people found that people who had the highest intake of whole grains had a 21% lowered risk of heart disease. While there aren’t studies specific to spelt as of yet, consuming its whole grain variety is sure to keep your heart healthy.[ref]Tang, Gang, Duan Wang, Jun Long, Fan Yang, and Liangyi Si. “Meta-analysis of the association between whole grain intake and coronary heart disease risk.” The American journal of cardiology 115, no. 5 (2015): 625-629.[/ref] [ref]Kelly, Sarah AM, Carolyn D. Summerbell, Audrey Brynes, Victoria Whittaker, and Gary Frost. “Wholegrain cereals for coronary heart disease.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2 (2007).[/ref] [ref]Liu, Simin, Meir J. Stampfer, Frank B. Hu, Edward Giovannucci, Eric Rimm, JoAnn E. Manson, Charles H. Hennekens, and Walter C. Willett. “Whole-grain consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: results from the Nurses’ Health Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 70, no. 3 (1999): 412-419.[/ref]


2. Manages Blood Sugar Levels

[pullquote]Like most grains, refined spelt has a high glycemic index and can cause blood sugar spikes. Be sure to always opt for the whole grain variety.[/pullquote]

If you’ve been trying to manage your blood sugar levels, a good way to find out how quickly a certain food will raise your blood sugar is to take a look at its glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index raise blood sugar levels and are linked to type 2 diabetes. They may also stimulate hunger and lead to obesity, both of which often increase the risk of diabetes. Whole-grain spelt, which has a low GI of 54, does not raise blood sugar levels. In addition to this, a cup of whole spelt packs in 18.6 g of fiber, which makes up for 74.4% of the recommended daily intake.[ref]Spelt, uncooked. US Department Of Agriculture.[/ref] And fiber is known to slow down digestion and absorption, in turn, preventing blood sugar spikes. Besides this, another review found that consuming whole grains lowered the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 32%. Needless to say, refined grains don’t show the same benefits.[ref]Chanson-Rolle, Aurelie, Alexandra Meynier, François Aubin, Jenni Lappi, Kaisa Poutanen, Sophie Vinoy, and Veronique Braesco. “Systematic review and meta-analysis of human studies to support a quantitative recommendation for whole grain intake in relation to type 2 diabetes.” PloS one 10, no. 6 (2015): e0131377.[/ref] [ref]Seal, Chris J., and Iain A. Brownlee. “Whole-grain foods and chronic disease: evidence from epidemiological and intervention studies.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 74, no. 3 (2015): 313-319.[/ref] [ref]


3. Aids Weight Management

If you’re on a diet, adding whole grain spelt in your diet will help you achieve your weight loss goals. The reason behind this could be its fiber content. High-fiber foods have been found to keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating. Researchers have also found that increasing fiber intake is easier for people to stick to as opposed to strict, restrictive diets.[ref]Albertson, Ann M., Marla Reicks, Nandan Joshi, and Carolyn K. Gugger. “Whole grain consumption trends and associations with body weight measures in the United States: results from the cross sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2012.” Nutrition journal 15, no. 1 (2015): 8.[/ref] [ref]

4. Promotes Thyroid Health

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid disorders, stock up on whole grain spelt. A cup of its serving offers 2.983 mg of manganese, which makes up for 59.66% of your recommended daily intake.[ref]Spelt, uncooked. US Department Of Agriculture.[/ref] This nutrient helps enzymes function and work properly in your body. It also plays a role in the production of thyroxine, a vital hormone that is required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, which helps you maintain a proper appetite, metabolism, weight, and organ efficiency. Including whole-grain spelt in your diet might help manage your thyroid hormones.[ref]Soldin, O. P., and M. Aschner. “Effects of manganese on thyroid hormone homeostasis: potential links.” Neurotoxicology 28, no. 5 (2007): 951-956.[/ref]


5. May Lower The Instances Of Epileptic Seizures

The leading cause of epilepsy in adults over 35 is a stroke, caused by decreased blood flow to your brain. Manganese is known to enlarge veins and efficiently carry blood to tissues like the brain, in turn, decreasing the risk of a stroke and epileptic seizures.[ref]Liu, Shasha, Weihua Yu, and Yang Lü. “The causes of new-onset epilepsy and seizures in the elderly.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 12 (2016): 1425.[/ref] In addition to this, part of the body’s manganese content is found in the brain with several studies suggesting that manganese levels may be lower in individuals with seizure disorders.[ref]Carl, George F., L. K. Blackwell, F. C. Barnett, L. A. Thompson, C. J. Kissinger, K. L. Olin, J. W. Critchfield, C. L. Keen, and B. B. Gallagher. “Manganese and epilepsy: brain glutamine synthetase and liver arginase activities in genetically epilepsy-prone and chronically seizure rats.” Epilepsia 34, no. 3 (1993): 441-446.[/ref] Whole-grain spelt might, hence, aid towards lowered instances of stroke and seizures.

Spelt May Not Be A Great Option For Some People

While whole-grain spelt can be a wholesome addition to any diet, it might not be for everyone. In fact, spelt is known to trigger the following in some people.


Gluten Intolerance and Wheat Allergy

[pullquote]About 1 in 141 people in the US has celiac disease. A similar number of people are believed to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.[/pullquote]

Spelt, both refined and whole wheat, contains gluten, which is the name given to a mixture of gliadin and glutenin proteins found in other grains like wheat, barley, and rye. And some people who are intolerant to gluten, such as people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, might have difficulties if they consume spelt.


Left untreated, celiac disease can trigger an autoimmune reaction, which causes inflammation in the small intestine and eventually lead to deficiencies in iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and folate. It can also increase the risk of developing bowel cancer, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.  And people who are intolerant to gluten may experience digestive problems while consuming spelt. Do bear in mind, if you have a wheat allergy, you may also be sensitive to spelt.[ref]Lebwohl, Benjamin, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, and Peter HR Green. “Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” Bmj 351 (2015): h4347.[/ref] [ref]Vincentini, Olimpia, Francesca Maialetti, Laura Gazza, Marco Silano, Mariarita Dessi, Massimo De Vincenzi, and Norberto Edgardo Pogna. “Environmental factors of celiac disease: cytotoxicity of hulled wheat species Triticum monococcum, T. turgidum ssp. dicoccum and T. aestivum ssp. spelta.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology 22, no. 11 (2007): 1816-1822.[/ref] [ref]Forssell, F., and H. Wieser. “Spelt wheat and celiac disease.” Zeitschrift fur Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und-Forschung 201, no. 1 (1995): 35-39.[/ref]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

[pullquote]If you have IBS, opt for sourdough bread and make sure not to eat more than 3 slices (26 grams each) per sitting. In addition to this, make sure the labels of products says 100% spelt flour or spelt bread.[/pullquote]


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gut disorder that is characterized by stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. According to statistics, about 14% of the US population has IBS. A known trigger for this disorder is a group of short-chain carbs known as FODMAPs. And like wheat, spelt contains a significant amount of FODMAPs. Hence, consuming spelt can trigger IBS symptoms in susceptible people. That said, processing can affect the amount of FODMAPs in food. For instance, traditional bread-making with fermentation can reduce FODMAPs. This could be why sourdough bread made with spelt is considered to be safe to consume for people with IBS. However, in the modern form of bread-making, the FODMAP content remains the same.[ref]Shepherd, Susan J., Miranda CE Lomer, and Peter R. Gibson. “Short-chain carbohydrates and functional gastrointestinal disorders.” The American journal of gastroenterology 108, no. 5 (2013): 707.[/ref] [ref]Tuck, Caroline J., Jane G. Muir, Jacqueline S. Barrett, and Peter R. Gibson. “Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols: role in irritable bowel syndrome.” Expert review of gastrenterology & hepatology 8, no. 7 (2014): 819-834.[/ref]