Is Spelt Healthier Than Wheat?

With more people looking for alternatives to wheat, some long-forgotten-about grains are beginning to attract more attention on grocery store shelves. One of these is spelt, a grain that had pretty much lost mainstream appeal by the 1800s but is now beginning to see a rise in popularity (via EcoWatch). One reason for this is because while it is similar to wheat, it has a few advantages such as higher levels of zinc and protein.  

Unfortunately, if you suffer from a gluten allergy or celiac disease, you should definitely avoid eating spelt, as it's nearly just as high in gluten as wheat is (via US News and World Report). That said, choosing to mix it up when it comes to your whole grains and opting for spelt over wheat isn't the worst idea for everyone else. Is it, though, healthier than wheat overall?

Spelt has some mineral differences when compared to wheat

Just like wheat, barley, and rye, spelt is a whole grain that's packed with fiber and nutrients. It's incredibly high in carbohydrates, but a cup of it has 7.6 grams of fiber, 10.6 grams of protein, and 18 percent of your recommended daily iron intake. With those sorts of nutrients, it's no surprise why it became a popular crop for farmers during the Bronze Age (via Does any of this actually make it healthier than wheat, though?

According to Healthline, studies have found that spelt contains higher mineral counts of copper, zinc, and manganese, as well as a lower percentage of the antinutrient phytic acid. This doesn't necessarily put spelt as a clear standout when compared with wheat, though — it simply has some differing mineral counts. Still, if you're looking to take a break from wheat, it's worth giving spelt a try. 

Spelt flour might have an advantage when it comes to bread

While spelt — like wheat — isn't the right food for those with a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it may be helpful for your gut health if you can tolerate gluten, particularly if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. This is because one of the triggers for IBS is a specific chain of carbohydrates that are often present in many modern breads. 

Spelt flour, however, has slightly fewer of these carbohydrates than common wheat flour, and may help cut down on some of the symptoms associated with IBS. Just make sure the bread you're baking or buying uses 100 percent spelt flour.