It is believed, based on archaeological findings (that have found traces of spelt flour since the 5th millennium B.C. and all throughout Europe), that spelt has been used as a flour ever since 8000 years ago – being one of the oldest crops grown. You can find spelt flour under the name of dinkel wheat or hulled wheat and as these name suggests, spelt is closely related to wheat, which also makes it not an option for those suffering from celiac disease.
Spelt has been growing in European soil and has been a staple in our food history ever since the Bronze Age up to the Medieval times – when recipes used to call for an ancient grain flour instead of the refined flour which we find abundant today and used in all kitchens, all around the world.
Thankfully is becoming more common to find spelt back in our supply and this is for a good reason. Spelt not only agrees with our bodies as it’s water-soluble hence easily digested, but also is an extremely rich source of minerals, especially as whole spelt flour.
Spelt has amazing health benefits helping with brittle bones and cardiovascular diseases as it has a great mineral profile
This is spelt mineral profile per 194 g, equivalent to 1 cup:
- 2.1 mg manganese (106% DRI)
- 291 mg phosphorus (29% DRI)
- 5 mg niacin (25% DRI)
- 95 mg magnesium (25% DRI)
- 0.4 mg copper (21% DRI)
- 3 mg iron (18% DRI)
- 2 mg zinc (16% DRI)
- 0.2 mg thiamine (13% DRI)
- 8 μg selenium (11% DRI)
- 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (8% DRI)
- 277 mg potassium (8% DRI)
- 25 μg folate (6% DRI)
- 0.5 mg vitamin E (3% DRI)
- 19 mg calcium (2% DRI)
Maintains a strong bone structure
Spelt’s magnificent mineral profile is a perfect natural booster for bone health – calcium and phosphorus bind together to form little crystals that make up teeth and bones. According to a study, these two minerals together play an important role in maintaining a healthy bone structure all throughout your life.
Boosts your immune system
The mineral profile in spelt flour, particularly iron (even if non-heme), has been found directly and closely linked to the immune system – you can read more in this study about it. Iron is also a very important nutrient for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients due to its role in metabolic enzyme process. Iron transports oxygen throughout the body and especially damaged areas (tissue, organs and cells).
On the other side, thiamine was found to have an activation kind of effect on immunity system and this was researched and published in a study back in 2014 – that’s because thiamine was found to maintain the muscle tone around the walls of the digestive tract, also known as the place where immunity starts. Spelt flour contains just enough thiamine to prevent deficiency and inflammation!
Helps with blood flow and its quality
This is because of the perfect mix of copper and iron – which are known to aid circulation. As we talked before, iron helps with the transportation of oxygen – which means healthy red blood cells being produced and transported. A research back in 2011 has found that actually anaemia (iron deficiency) is rather an issue of unhealthy red blood cells and not necessarily of a ”lack” of red blood cells.
Helps digestion process
Now there are different takes on whether we need fibre or not in our bodies. Truth is that along our existence we have consumed our share amount of herbs, plants and roots to actually learn what can become poisonous and what can actually aid us get rid of toxins regularly – certain fibres can become toxic for our bodies if the intake is too high, if we build dependence around their usage, if they change our digestive microbiome, if they have the power of allowing a development of bad bacteria in our gut, etc. But some fibres can also just aid locally and allow us to eliminate toxins easier, spelt being one of these. Remember that many toxins, including hormonal toxins such as excess of oestrogen, are actually eliminated via stools. The better and more regular you can go to the bathroom, the better will be for maintaining your hormonal levels balanced.
Fiber passes through our digestive system unabsorbed by our digestive enzymes (because the body cannot deal with fiber) and takes with them toxins, waste, fat, cholesterol particles, etc and flushing down your gut.
A study that has looked into the effects of spelt flour on bread composition and nutritional characteristics, has found that because of its fibrous content, spelt flour is easily digested and that it aids with flushing down toxins easily.
Lowers blood sugar
Due to its fibre content, spelt flour was also found to regulate the amounts of glucose and insulin that are being produced and released. There have been studies that have related the fibre consumption with better results for type 2 diabetes and better control of insulin and glucose after the trial period where a higher fibre intake was conducted.
High source of Manganese mineral
If you have a look again at the content and DRI% of spelt flour you will notice is high in quite many minerals. Manganese is a very important trace mineral that is needed for proper nutrient absorption, production of digestive enzymes and bone development – meaning that it’s a great component to the immune system as well and gut health.
Manganese is able to reduce bone loss – especially when combined with other minerals such as calcium, zinc and copper. This is particularly important for those in more advanced age.
High source of Niacin vitamin
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, that impacts metabolism, cardiovascular health and with it, blood cholesterol levels. Niacin also helps with skin issues as well as preventive care for diabetes, but most importantly, niacin has also been found in some studies to lower the risk of some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, cataracts, migraines and even learning disorders like ADHD.
Niacin is found in abundance in: 140 g chicken (96% DRI), 1 slice liver (60% DRI), 85 g tuna (56% DRI), 140 g turkey (48% DRI), 115 g salmon (34% DRI), 1 can of sardines (24% DRI).
What to do with spelt flour?
I personally use it instead of normal flour – our flour in Sweden is mostly whole wheat flour, which is good, but I do sometimes like to use ancient grain flour such as spelt especially if I am making something that cannot easily be ”messed up”. Also, spelt flour is closely related to wheat so it’s very easy to substitute them when a recipe calls for wheat!
Some examples on when to switch to spelt flour are:
- Pizza or pie dough