A wonderfully nutritious grain with a
deep nutlike flavor, this cousin to wheat is recently receiving renewed recognition.
Spelt features a host
of different nutrients. It is an excellent source of
vitamin B2, a very good source of niacin, and a good
source of both dietary fiber and zinc. This particular
combination of nutrients provided by spelt may make
it a particularly helpful food for persons with migraine
headache, atherosclerosis, or diabetes. In addition,
spelt is a good source of protein. Just 2 ounces of
spelt flour contain 7.6 grams or 15.1% of the daily
value for protein.
Help for Migraine Headache
Spelt may be one of the most important
foods for many migraine headache sufferers since it is
an excellent source of riboflavin (vitamin
B2), a nutrient necessary for proper energy production
within cells. Riboflavin has been shown to help reduce
the frequency of attacks in persons who get migraines,
possibly by improving the energy metabolism of their brain
and muscle cells. Eating just 2 ounces of bread or other
baked goods made from whole grain spelt will provide more
than 100% of the daily value for riboflavin--118.2% of
the DV for riboflavin to be precise.
Concerned about atherosclerosis? You
may want to increase your intake of spelt. This ancient
grain is a very good source of niacin,
which has numerous benefits against cardiovascular risk
factors. Niacin can help reduce total cholesterol and
lipoprotein (a) levels. (Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) is
a molecule composed of protein and fat that is found
in blood plasma and is very similar to LDL cholesterol,
but is even more dangerous as it has an additional molecule
of adhesive protein called apolioprotein (a), which renders
Lp(a) more capable of attaching to blood vessel walls.
Niacin may also help prevent free radicals from oxididizing
LDL, which only becomes potentially harmful to blood
vessel walls after oxidation. Lastly, niacin can help
reduce platelet aggregation, the clumping together
of platelets that can result in the formation of blood
clots. Two ounces of spelt flour will supply you with
34.3% of the daily value for niacin.
Spelt is also a good source of the trace mineral zinc,
which is needed for the proper function of blood vessels
and, since it functions as a antioxidant, can help
prevent the damage to the endothelium (blood vessel
lining) caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol. That same
two ounces of spelt flour contains 16.1% of the daily
value for zinc.
The fiber in
spelt can also help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol
levels. The presence of fiber also contributes to the
cholesterol-lowering potential of spelt. Fiber binds
with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol.
Fiber isn't absorbed, so when it exits the body in
the feces, it takes the bile acids with it, making
less available for cholesterol production.
Riboflavin is often present in the body in the form of
FAD, a compound which serves many important roles, including
being a cofactor for an enzyme (MTHFR) that is involved
in the breakdown metabolism of homocysteine (high levels
of homocysteine have been found to be associated with
increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular
disease.) Certain individuals have MTHFR enzyme that
don't function optimally, owing to a genetic mutation,
and are therefore more at risk for having high homocysteine
levels. Researchers have suggested that among these individuals,
those who have inadequte riboflavin status are more likely
to have elevated homocysteine levels than those whose
riboflavin status is adequate.
Spelt is a great food to incorporate into your diet if you are concerned about
diabetes. Many studies have shown that a diet high in fiber, a nutrient with
which spelt is well endowed, has beneficial effects on diabetes. One of fiber's
benefits is that it may contribute to the regulation of blood sugar and insulin
levels. Blood glucose (blood sugar) does not rise as high after eating foods
made with whole grains such as spelt as it does when compared to white bread.
This beneficial effect is due to spelt's fiber, which research studies have
shown not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but may
also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
Just two ounces of whole grain spelt flour, the amount you would most likely
consume in a couple of slices of spelt bread, will provide 18.9%% of the daily
value for fiber.
Spelt is also a good source of zinc, a trace mineral
frequently found to be low in persons with diabetes.
This mineral is very important since zinc can help
with blood sugar control, while also increasing the
number and activity of certain types of immune system
cells responsible for fighting infections. Two ounces
of spelt flour provides 16.1% of the daily value for
Spelt is an ancient grain with a deep nutlike
flavor that has recently received renewed recognition.
It is a distant cousin to wheat, and while it can be used
in many of the same ways as wheat—bread and pasta making—it does not seem to cause sensitivities in most people
who are intolerant of wheat. In addition to spelt flour,
spelt is also available in its hulled, whole grain form
(often referred to as spelt berries), which can be prepared
and enjoyed like rice. Spelt is scientifically known as Triticum
Native to Iran and southeastern Europe, spelt is one of the world's most popular
grains with a heritage thought to extend back 7,000 years. Spelt was one
of the first grains to be used to make bread, and its use is mentioned in
Spelt played an important role in ancient civilizations,
such as Greece and Rome, serving as a staple grain. Spelt
was so well regarded that it even took on symbolic importance
as it was used as a gift to the pagan gods of agriculture
to encourage harvest and fertility.
Throughout early European history, as populations migrated
throughout the continent, they brought this hearty and
nutritious grain with them to their new lands. Spelt became
a popular grain, especially in Germany, Switzerland and
Austria. During the Middle Ages, spelt earned another level
of recognition with the famous healer Hildegard von Bingen
using spelt as a panacea for many illnesses.
Spelt was cultivated on a moderate level in the United
States until the beginning of the 20th century when farmers
turned their efforts to the cultivation of wheat. While
there may have been many reasons for this agricultural
shift, one is that spelt's nutrient-dense tough husk makes
it harder to process than wheat. Yet, recently this ancient
grain has been receiving renewed interest, and its popularity
and appreciation are beginning to escalate.
Spelt is not a commonly allergenic food, is not included
in the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide
residues, and is also not known to contain goitrogens,
oxalates, or purines.
Food Rating System Chart
following chart shows the nutrients for which this food
is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next
to the nutrient name you will find the following information:
the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted
serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount
represents (similar to other information presented in the
website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy
woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's
Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table
that summarizes how the ratings were devised. For more
detailed information on World's Healthiest Foods' Food
and Recipe Rating System, please visit www.whfoods.com
|vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
|| 1.30 mg
|| 1.24 mg
|| 0.10 g
|vitamin B1 (thiamin)
|| 0.37 mg
|vitamin B3 (niacin)
|| 4.80 mg
|| 0.35 mg
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food
for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director.
The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
PF, Kalmbach R, Bagley PJ et al. The relationship
between riboflavin and plasma total homocysteine
in the Framingham Offspring cohort is influenced
by folate status and the C677T transition in the
methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. J
McNulty H, McKinley MC, Wilson B
et al. Impaired functioning of thermolabile methylenetetrahydrofolate
reductase is dependent on riboflavin status: implications
for riboflavin requirements. Am
J Clin Nutr 2002
Oplinger ES, Oelke EA, Kaminski
AR, Kelling KA, Doll JD, Durgan BR et al. Alternative
Field Crops Manual: Spelt. http://newcrop.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/spelt.html.
Rebecca. The Whole Foods
York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.