Spelt Flour Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

spelt flour nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Spelt is an ancient grain that's similar to wheat in appearance (and is related, botanically, to wheat). Spelt has a tougher husk, which helps protect the nutrients inside the grain. Flour made from spelt has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for regular or whole-wheat flour. It has nutritional benefits similar to other whole-grain flours: It's a good source of fiber and contains micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin E.

Not so long ago, if you wanted spelt flour, you had to purchase spelt kernels and use a kitchen grinder to make your own flour. But today, you can buy spelt flour at most grocery stores (check the natural foods or baking section). You can also buy products made with spelt, such as crackers, cookies, pasta, and other snacks and foods.

Spelt Flour Nutrition Facts​

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/4 cup (30 grams) raw spelt flour.

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 5g

Carbs

Most of the calories in spelt flour come from carbohydrates (about 22 grams in 1/4 cup of flour). The carbohydrate in spelt flour comes in the form of fiber (4 grams) and starch. There are no naturally occurring or added sugars in spelt flour.

The glycemic index of spelt flour is estimated to be 55 to 67, according to The Diabetes Council, meaning it has a moderate effect on blood sugar levels. It has a slightly lower glycemic index than whole wheat, buckwheat, corn, and millet flours. Bread made with spelt flour has a similar glycemic index to bread made with white flour.

Fats

There is almost no fat in spelt flour. A single serving provides less than a gram of fat.

Protein

Spelt flour is not a high protein food, but a single serving does boost your protein intake slightly: 5 grams per 1/4 cup serving of flour, or 3 grams in a slice of bread made from spelt flour.

Vitamins and Minerals

Spelt is a good source of calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese. It has vitamin E and B-complex vitamins (especially niacin). 

Health Benefits

All in all, spelt is a healthy whole grain. Eating spelt flour and spelt products is a simple way to get more whole grain fiber into your diet. Spelt grains and flour contain a little more protein than regular wheat, and there's a little difference in the amounts of some of the minerals. They have about the same amount of fiber.

Provides Valuable Fiber

Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system, and eating fiber-rich foods can slow down the absorption of sugars. Fiber can help you feel full longer, so it may be helpful when eaten as part of a weight-loss diet. One study of thousands of American kids and adults found that those who consumed more whole grains also consumed more nutrients overall, and had a healthier body weight.

Improves Gut Microbiome

The fiber and other compounds in whole grains can contribute to the health of the bacteria in the digestive system. This, in turn, can help reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to digestive health as well as weight loss and management.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

Research has shown that people who eat whole grains (vs. refined grains) have a lower risk of diabetes. One 2017 study of spelt, in particular, suggested that both the fiber and antioxidants in spelt contribute to this effect.

Decreases Risk of Heart Attack

A diet rich in whole grains has been linked to better cardiovascular health. A Danish study published in 2016 found that people who ate more whole grains had a lower risk of heart attacks. The study encompassed more than 50,000 adults ages 50 to 64. Another earlier meta-analysis also showed that higher whole grain consumption was associated with lower risk of heart disease.

Allergies

It is possible to have an allergy to spelt and spelt flour. Some people who are allergic to wheat may also react to spelt, while some may not. If you are sensitive to wheat or other gluten grains, you should speak with your health care provider before eating spelt. 

Adverse Effects

Spelt flour should not be consumed by people who can't have gluten. Even though the gluten in spelt isn't exactly the same as wheat gluten, it's still not suitable for a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity must avoid spelt.

While spelt tends to be lower in total FODMAPs than modern wheat, experts recommend that most spelt products be avoided by people following a low-FODMAP diet to manage gastrointestinal symptoms.

Storage and Food Safety

Keep spelt flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life. It will keep one to three months at room temperature, or a little longer in the refrigerator. You can also freeze your flour; it will last for up to six months when frozen. If your spelt flour smells rancid, toss it.

How to Prepare

Like wheat, barley, and rye, spelt is a gluten grain. Gluten is the protein that gives bread and other baked goods their texture. Since it has gluten, spelt flour can replace whole wheat or whole grain flour in most bread recipes. It's not identical, though.

The gluten in spelt isn't as strong as wheat gluten and many bakers find that when making bread with spelt flour, the dough doesn't rise as high. It helps to add a bit of vital wheat gluten to bread dough made with spelt flour. You can also use spelt flour in traditional sourdough recipes.

For other types of baking, spelt flour works just fine as it is. You can use spelt flour for baking cookies and quick breads, like banana bread, or as a thickener for sauces and gravy.

Whole spelt grains can be cooked and eaten as a side dish or as a cereal. Combine three cups of water with one cup of spelt grains plus a bit of salt and pepper and simmer until the grains are soft. It's also delicious when topped with berries and a bit of honey for breakfast. 

Recipes

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