Spelt – Nutritional Profile
Spelt is a less well known grain but has a very complex and valuable nutritional profile. A single 100g portion will provide 54g of starch and 11g of dietary fibre and 15g of protein.
The same portion will also supply 11% of folate requirements and 5% of vitamin E, 34% of Iron, 38% magnesium, 57% phosphorus and 35% Zinc.
Spelt – Health Benefits
Spelt is rich in fibre and this can reduce the risk of artheroisclerosis. The fibre converts into a colloidal gel in the colon and this gel has a double impact. There are two types of cholesterol, undesirable LDL and desirable HDL and the gel appears to inhibit the passage of LDL cholesterol to the bloodstream whilst promoting the passage of HDL. The retention of moisture in the gel also ensures that food passé through the colon at the correct pace, ensuring the optimum absorption of nutrients and the minimum contamination from cancer causing agents.
Dietary fibre, as found in spent, has been shown in a 20 year study of more than 21,000 individuals to reduce the risk of heart failure by 29% when eating just one single bowl of whole grain cereal .
Wholegrain such as spelt have also been shown to have health promoting properties that equal those of fruit and vegetables. A Cornell University research project has shown that phytonutrients have a more significant impact than once thought. Phytonutrients exist in two forms and until recently the bound form, in which the phytonutrients are bound to plant walls, have not been measured. Bound phytonutrients such as phenolics, which are found in Spelt, are significant anti-oxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.
One specific group of phytonutrients is lignans. Lignans are acted upon by the bacteria in the colon and is thought to protect against breats cancers. A study of 800 postmenopausal women showed that those eating the most wholegrains such as spelt had significanltly increased levels of lignans.
A recently published study has shown that the link between decreased prevalence of atherosclerosis, stroke, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance diabetes and consumption of whol grains such as spelt is more significant than before and recommends the consumption of three cups of wholegrain daily. The dietary fibres present contain a large number of nutrients including antioxidants that are particularly important for protection agains cardiovascular problems.
The insoluble fibre found in spelt is also important in regulating against gallstones. The movement of food through the colon is speeded up when fibre is present. This results in the production of less bile acid which is a major cause of gall stones.
Spelt – Product History
Spelt is one of the earliest known food crops. Evidence of it has been found in the Black Sea region dating back to 5,000BC. Neolithic burial sites across central Europe have been found to contain spelt and its use during Bronze-age times was widespread.
During the Middle Ages spelt was framed extensively across parts of Switzerland and Austria where it was recognised for its nutritional qualities. The United States originally started farming it in the 1890s but it was replaced by bead whet almost completely during the 20th century.
Today, it is making a comeback and British supermarkets have stocked it since 2007. It is also becoming increasingly used in brewing as connoisseurs look for specialist products with new and different flavours.
Part of that comeback is because some people maintain they can eat Spelt breads but not wheat breads but it should be pointed out that this Spelt id not an alternative bread for coeliacs as the protein in Spelt still contains levels of gluten.