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Spelt -- Ancient Healthy Whole Grain


Updated July 15, 2014

Bowl of uncooked spelt
John Anthony Rizzo/Photodisc/Getty Images Spelt and wheat

Spelt is slightly darker than wheat.

Eising/Getty Images wheat

Wheat is a descendant of spelt.

Simon Templar

Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance, but it has a tougher husk, which helps protect the nutrients inside the grain. Spelt flour has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for regular or whole-wheat flour.

The official name of is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. It was originally grown in Iran around 5000 to 6000 B.C. Spelt has been grown in Europe for over 300 years, and now in North America for just over 100 years. It's been used most commonly as a feed grain for animals, but, it's gained popularity as a dietary grain due to its nutty flavor and nutrition content.

Some people claim they can eat spelt even though they're sensitive to wheat. That may be true, but it has more protein than wheat, and it contains gluten, so it's not suitable for a gluten-free diet.

If you're sensitive to wheat or other grains, you should speak to your health care provider before eating spelt.

Using Spelt

Spelt flour can replace whole wheat flour or whole grain flour in recipes for breads and pastries. Spelt pasta is available in regular and white varieties; the white spelt is lighter in color and texture because it is milled more finely.

Spelt flour is available in health food stores and many grocery stores, or you can buy spelt kernels in bulk and use a kitchen grain grinder to make your own flour.

Spelt doesn't always have to be ground into flour. You can also cook the grains and add them to side dishes, salads and cereals.

Nutrition Information for Spelt

One cup of cooked spelt has 246 calories, 11 grams protein, 1.6 grams fat, and 51 grams carbohydrates, and 7.6 grams fiber. Spelt is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese. It has vitamin E and B-complex vitamins (especially niacin).

Spelt Recipes


Oplinger ES, Oelke EA, Kaminski AR, Kelling KA, Doll JD, Durgan BR, Schuler RT. "Spelt." Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin. Updated January 2000.

United States Department of Agriculuture, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. "Nutrient data for 20141, Spelt, cooked." Accessed February 7, 2012. .


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