Spelt (Triticum spelta L.): Health benefits and Side effects

Spelt health benefits

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati
Spelt (Triticum spelta L.), is one of the ancient wheat variety. Other then spelt there are another two cultivated species, einkorn and emmer.
Another name of spelt is ‘Dinkel’ to Germans, ‘farro’ (but different from emmer, also called farro) to Italians and hulled cereal.
Spelt is closely related to common wheat which invented through hybridization between the emmer wheat and the diploid goatgrass. It is originated from an area in the Middle East and Europe spreading from Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon to Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran in dates back to 7000 BC (1). Currently, it is mainly grown in Europe, the USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, Egypt and other countries.
Whole spelt grain has high nutritional value thus attract the consumer to organic breeding because it can be grown on low fertility soil, require less amount of fertilizers and pesticides and resistant to harsh environmental conditions than common wheat (2).

Spelt flour and its benefits than normal wheat flour

Spelt flour can be obtained by Spelt wheat seeds. It contains unique flavour and more nutritious than common wheat. Spelt wheat flour absorbs more water which can swell and gelatinize by starch granules. Thus spelt flour more easily digested than common wheat flour. Spelt wheat bread contains a high amount of protein and dietary fibre than common wheat flour (3). Recently spelt flour as an organic product gained importance since it is used as an alternative to people who is allergic to wheat (4).

Nutritional value of Spelt

Whole spelt is high nutritious wheat with its unique flavour, used as bread, pasta, soups, cakes, and biscuits contain a high amount of protein, ash, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus contents than most cereal grains (5).

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water 11.02 g
Energy 338 kcal
Protein 14.57 g
Total lipid ( Fat)s 2.43 g
Carbohydrates 70.19 g
Dietary Fiber 10.7 g
Sugar 6.82 g
Minerals
Calcium 27 mg
Iron 4.44 mg
Magnesium 136 mg
Phosphorous 401 mg
Potassium 388 mg
Sodium 8 mg
Zinc 3.28 mg
Vitamins
Folates 45 µg
Niacin 6.84 mg
Riboflavin 0.11 mg
Thiamin 0.36 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.23 mg
Vitamin A 10 IU
Vitamin E 0.79 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg
Vitamin K 3.6 µg
Vitamin K 5.9 µg

Health benefits of Spelt

1. Spelt helps in the prevention of Diabetes

Presence of high amount dietary fibre in spelt grains controls glycemia. Other bioactive compounds like phytic acid, alkylresorcinols and polyphenol also contribute to controlling blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity and hyperinsulinemia. Thus, spelt grain may beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes (6).

2. Spelt grain improves digestion

Spelt grains contain dietary fibre which acts as a laxative and prevents constipation. Specifically, insoluble dietary fibre reduces transit time and increases faecal output and defecation frequency. Therefore, spelt dietary fibre fermentation increase of short-chain fatty acids which improve bowel health and reduce the risk of cancer (7).

3. Spelt benefits for heart

Spelt grain is a rich source of dietary fibre which lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and reduces the risk for coronary heart disease (8).

4. Anticancer benefits of Spelt

Consumption of spelt wheat may helpful in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis or death of cancerous cells. As it contains a high amount of glutamic acid/glutamine, leucine, and methionine which act as anti-apoptotic agents against different cancer (9).

5. Spelt helps in lowering the cholesterol

Spelt wheat fat contains more phytosterols than common wheat fat, moreover, it possesses high starch‐resistance and healing properties. Therefore, consumption of spelt grain beneficial for lowering blood cholesterol level (10).

6. Spelt is high in nutrition

Spelt wheat is rich in protein and phenolic compound contents compared to the common wheat (11). It also contains unsaturated fatty acids, ash, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus higher than wheat (12). Thus spelt wheat due to its high nutrition is placed under the superfood category.

7. Spelt is easy to digest

Spelt products are easily digested because of a special type of grain proteins such as prolamins, which make their nutritional value higher. Thus non-coeliac patients who are suffering from wheat-related allergy can tolerate products made from certain spelt varieties (13).

8. Higher in antioxidant

High antioxidants, phenolic acids (ferulic and sinapinic acids), flavonoids and other minerals of spelt provides protection against oxidative stress and enhances the immunity of the body (14).

Interesting facts

Dietary fibres in spelt control diabetes improve digestion, acts as a laxative, prevents constipation, improve bowel health and reduce risk of cancer, lowers cholesterol level.

Side effects of Spelt

1. Expensive

Spelt grain is slightly more expensive than refined grains and available in selected grocery stores. Spelt flour and bread are available in speciality stores at high prices up to 50 % above, especially organic products than wheat products (15).

2. Gluten major side effects of Spelt

Spelt contains gluten proteins (spelt α-gliadins) which are responsible for celiac disease (16). Therefore, a person who is allergic to gluten should avoid spelt because it is listed coeliac-toxic cereal (17).

3. Spelt causes inflammatory due to Gluten

Gluten in the spelt makes its an inflammatory agent. After consumption of spelt, some people face a problem like joint swelling, loose bowel, bloating, sneezing, stomach pain, itchy eyes back pain and more. Thus if you face this problem after consumption consult your doctor as soon as possible (18).

Healthy Recipes of Spelt

1. Sprouted or non sprouted Spelt salad

It can be prepared either with germinated or non germinated spelt. Although sprouted spelt not only posses high nutritional value but also increase its bioactive components.

  1. Boil non sprouted spelt in water.
  2. After cooling mix it in a big bowl with cut tomato, cucumber, cabbage.
  3. Sprouted spelt can be directly used and toss with above vegetables.
  4. Add lemon juice, pepper, salt (as per taste) and little olive oil.
  5. Mix until emulsified and serve freshly.

2. Spelt soup

Preparation of spelt soup is easy and highly nutritious

Method

  1. Pour one tablespoon oil in a heating pan and fry ginger- garlic for 1 min until it turns golden brown.
  2. Add vegetables of your choice (tomato, carrot, beans, zucchini, bell peppers, raw papaya, etc) and spelt (toasted) and saute it.
  3. Best if you boil the vegetables for 5 to 8 mins before adding in the pan as it will cook easily and requires lesser oil. Then add water and cook again for 10 to 15 mins
  4. If you are non-vegetarian you also add chicken broth and bring to boil.
  5. Garnish it with coriander and spring onions

3. Spelt risotto

Spelt can be enjoyed with mushroom which is a healthy option

Method

  1. Use mushroom (as per choice) cut into slices and soaked in water and dried.
  2. Boil the spelt for 20 min.
  3. Saute medium chopped onion, ginger and garlic paste in olive oil until the onion looks translucent
  4. Stir the above for 3 to 5 mins then add mushrooms and spelt until tender.
  5. Add salt and pepper as per taste and dress up with cheese and coriander.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12262
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780081007198000140
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814699002150
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5824670/
  5. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/20140
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29068605
  7. https://popups.uliege.be/1780-4507/index.php?id=8700
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3146027/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15212453
  10. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2014/361069/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857094131500012
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15796621
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780081007198000140
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22500695/
  15. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002170000230
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5104789/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7571865
  18. Recover Quickly From Surgery: The Essential Guide for Reducing Your Pain, Swelling and Downtime, Naturally

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