1 October 2018


Spelt is one of today’s trendy grains with organic cred and a mystical “ancient grains” health halo. An older wheat variety of uncertain parentage – possibly a hybrid of emmer and bread wheat – it was long cultivated in parts of Europe, but fell out of fashion because it is a hulled wheat (meaning it has a tough husk and is harder to process). Today it is back big time and available whole, pearled, cracked, rolled and green or milled to make flour and products such as couscous, pasta, bread and breakfast cereals. In the kitchen you’ll find it’s a very versatile grain with a nutty, al dente texture that happily pairs with robust flavours or substitutes for regular wheat in most recipes. We think it’s a good carb to stock in your pantry and doesn’t need the accompanying hype.


Some nutrition and food writers make Very Rash Claims that many people who can’t tolerate wheat can tolerate spelt. There is no evidence for this in peer-reviewed science journals. Spelt is a variety of wheat and it contains gluten (about 80% of its protein is gluten) putting it very much on the Absolutely Avoid List for people with medically diagnosed celiac disease.

Fans like to claim it is nutritionally superior to regular wheat. But when the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council checked this out recently they found a very mixed bag of research findings. “The nutrient composition of spelt,” they report “appears to vary depending on the variety and the environmental conditions where it is grown. Belgian research examining milled and wholemeal grain samples found that de-hulled spelt contains more copper, zinc, iron, magnesium and phosphorus than soft winter wheat. Another study in Italy showed that spelt contains more protein and soluble fibre than conventional wheat varieties. This research further showed that bread made from wholemeal spelt flour has less total starch and more resistant starch compared with bread made from white flour (milled from both spelt and conventional wheat). However, other research has shown no significant difference between the nutritional content of spelt and (hard red) winter wheat in terms of protein, fibre, vitamin and mineral content. The exception was zinc content, which was found to higher in spelt wheat.”

As for its glycemic index, it hasn’t been GI tested but we would guesstimate pearled spelt to be similar to whole wheat kernels. The GI of other spelt products from breads to breakfast cereals will depend on the product and the amount and type of processing.

Spelt nutrition facts
 Source: USDA National Nutrient Database