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Planning Retirement Online

Health food of the month - Spelt

December 2011 

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Chickpeas

Baobob

Barley


Diet & Supplements Index

SpeltThere is a lot more news about spelt these days, with recipes stipulating spelt rather than wheat and ready prepared foods based on spelt now arriving in the shops.

But despite its growing popularity, many people still know very little about spelt, what it is and how to use it.

Basically spelt is closely related to wheat, a sort of cousin. It is a very ancient grain that originally was found in Iran and parts of south eastern Europe and was used as one of the staple grains for the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. While, like all modern grains, it has been manipulated to meet modern farming techniques and manufacturing requirements, its alteration is minimal compared with other grains and spelt retains many of its original characteristics.

Spelt is also easier to digest than modern day wheat. The gluten contained in spelt is water soluble, degrades with heat and breaks down very easily. The gluten in wheat does not break down in water and can even get stronger when it is mixed. This means spelt is easier to digest.

Spelt also offers a wider spectrum of nutrients compared with many other modern day grains. It is a very good source of vitamin B2 and also a good source of niacin. Niacin can help protect the body against cardiovascular risk factors and also reduce levels of cholesterol and lipoprotein. Spelt also contains good levels of manganese, thiamine and copper.

Spelt is high in fibre and also contains a special type of phytonutrient called plant lignans, considered effective in helping to provide protection against certain hormone-dependent cancers.

Spelt is now readily available in various forms at major supermarkets and health shops. Interestingly, if you see any Italian food with the word Farro in it (ie in Zuppa de Farro, Farro soup) then this means spelt. Farro refers to the whole spelt grain that has been traditionally used in Italian cooking to give a nutty flavour and chewy texture.



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