All About Spelt: The Search for a Better Grain Substitute

Medically reviewed by Karina Tolentino, RD

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a nutty, slightly sweet ancient grain. The term "ancient grain” refers to a group of grains that have remained unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years.

Spelt is a type of wheat that contains gluten and has more protein and healthy fats than wheat. Spelt can be a healthy meal addition for people who can safely eat gluten. Diets rich in whole grains are linked to a lower risk of certain chronic diseases and improved digestion.

This article discusses spelt grain, its benefits, drawbacks, and how to incorporate it into your diet. 

<p>sugar0607 / Getty Images</p>

sugar0607 / Getty Images


Spelt is a grain that contains gluten. People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should not consume spelt.

Spelt Grain Origins

Spelt is an ancient grain that humans have used for thousands of years. Researchers believe that people started planting spelt seeds in Mesopotamia around 3,000 B.C. Spelt was first grown in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Today, it is mainly grown in Europe, Canada, and the United States for flour. 


Research has discovered that bread made with spelt flour has a higher nutritional value than bread made with wheat flour.

Nutrition Facts for Single-Spelt Serving

Spelt is a subspecies of wheat, sharing many of the same nutrients but with more protein and fat.

One cup of cooked spelt contains:

  • Calories: 246

  • Fat: 1.65 grams (g)

  • Protein: 10.67 g

  • Carbohydrates: 51.2 g

  • Fiber: 7.57 g

  • Calcium: 19.4 milligrams (mg)

  • Iron: 3.24 mg

  • Magnesium: 95.1 mg

  • Phosphorus: 291 mg

  • Potassium: 277 mg

  • Zinc: 2.42 mg

  • Sodium: 9.72 mg

  • Niacin: 4.99 mg

  • Folate: 25.2 micrograms (mcg)

What Benefits Do You Get From Eating Spelt?

Spelt is a whole grain that is rich in fiber. It also has more protein and fat than wheat. Diets rich in whole grains have been linked to several health benefits.

Lowers Cholesterol

Spelt contains soluble fiber, which is linked to lower cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Consuming soluble fiber may also raise high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, considered the “good” cholesterol, in the blood. 

Supports Heart Health

Consuming whole grains like spelt may lower your risk of heart disease. One study found that people who eat a diet rich in whole grains are 21% less likely to experience heart disease than those who don’t. Eating whole grains daily may also lower the risk of stroke.  

Improves Digestive Health

Whole grains are rich in fiber, which improves digestive health. Fiber is a necessary part of the diet for healthy digestion. People who eat whole grains have a lower risk of constipation.

The fiber in spelt may also make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Fiber can make you feel full longer after eating. Increasing the fiber in your diet has been linked to weight loss. 

Reduces Diabetes Risk

Adding spelt to your diet may lower your risk of diabetes. High-fiber foods like spelt lower the risk of diabetes by slowing digestion and preventing blood sugar spikes. Fiber helps to keep the blood sugar levels stable, which reduces the need for insulin

Lowers Cancer Risk

People who eat a diet rich in whole grains may have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer. Regularly eating whole grains may lower the risk of cancers, such as:

Who Shouldn’t Eat Spelt?

Spelt is rich in healthy nutrients but isn’t for everyone. If you have ever been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or a wheat allergy, avoid spelt because it contains gluten.

Spelt is also not the best choice for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Spelt is high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). These compounds may be irritating for people with IBS. 

Learn More: High- and Low-FODMAP Foods

Spelt Meal Ideas

Spelt is a grain with a mild, nutty flavor. It can be cooked as a side dish or ground into flour for baked goods. It’s also possible to use spelt flour instead of some of the wheat flour in many baking recipes. But because spelt flour tends to be more soluble than wheat flour, your baked goods might feel fragile or fall apart more easily.

Recipe ideas for spelt flour include:

  • Bread

  • Cookies

  • Muffins

  • Thickener for gravy or sauce

Recipe ideas for cooked spelt include:

  • Breakfast cereal in place of oatmeal

  • Mixed with tomato sauce in place of pasta

  • Risotto

  • Side dish in place of rice

  • Soups or stews


Spelt is an ancient grain that is a subspecies of wheat. It contains gluten, so people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or a wheat allergy should avoid spelt.

Spelt is rich in fiber and whole grains. A diet rich in whole grains has been linked to lower cholesterol, improved digestion, and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

People who cannot tolerate gluten or wheat should not eat spelt. It may also be irritating for people with irritable bowel syndrome. To add spelt to your diet, try baking with spelt flour or making cooked spelt grain as a side dish.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.