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26/03/2009

Spelt more than wheat for health

(NaturalNews) Triticum speltum, known as spelt, is a grain much like wheat. In fact, some experts have called it the grandfather of wheat. It was known in Biblical times and has seen a dramatic rise in popularity in the past two decades. Spelt is high in fiber and manganese. It also contains good amounts of copper, niacin and protein. It has a robust, nutty flavor and can be used the same as wheat with one notable benefit - spelt usually does not cause allergic reactions like wheat.

Spelt contains different groupings of nutrients from wheat. As a result, it has been found to be helpful in preventing migraines and reducing risk of atherosclerosis and diabetes. The undigested fiber in spelt helps lower LDL cholesterol. In the human body, cholesterol is produced by bile acids combining with fats. Spelt fiber attaches to the bile acids and is expelled from the body by the digestive tract, so less cholesterol is made.

Heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalization in adults over the age of 65 years. A study done by Harvard researchers resulted in data that shows there is a 29 per cent less likelihood of heart failure in those who eat an unrefined whole grain breakfast daily. Spelt fills the bill.

In another study, data shows that it is possible to reduce the incidence of childhood-onset asthma by as much as 50 per cent by regular, sustained intake of unrefined whole grains (excluding wheat) and fish.

Often sold in the form of "berries," the whole-grained form of spelt can be used like rice. Whether purchased as berries or flour, spelt must be stored properly to retain its nutrient value. Air-tight, moisture free storage is a must and spelt flour needs to be stored in the refrigerator. Hull-free, whole spelt berries must be rinsed under running water and soaked for at least eight hours before cooking. Use three ounces of water for each ounce of berries and bring to a boil. The mixture should be simmered for approximately one hour.

Spelt owes its high nutritional value and excellent nutty flavor to the tough hull covering each kernel. Wheat loses its hull during harvesting and exposes the kernel to the environment during shipping before processing. With spelt, the tough hull must be specially processed to accomplish removal. The kernel is protected up until processing, enhancing nutrients, keeping the kernel fresh and protecting it from pollutants and insects.

Spelt has an unusual genetic make up compared to other wheat-type grains. It is easily soluble in water which promotes easy digestion of nutrients. A distinct group of carbohydrates enhances spelt's contributions to blood clotting and stimulation of the immune system.

Spelt is native to Iran and Central Europe. It contains gluten, so is not suitable for those who need gluten-free diets. Individuals with celiac disease also need to avoid spelt. Because it requires less fertilization than wheat, spelt has been adopted by many organic growers. Europeans use spelt for beer, gin and vodka.

Sources:

Djouss L, Gaziano JM. Breakfast cereals and risk of heart failure in the physicians' health study I. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2080-5. 2007. PMID:17954802.

Tabak C, Wijga AH, de Meer G, Janssen NA, Brunekreef B, Smit HA. Diet and asthma in Dutch school children (ISAAC-2). Thorax. 2006 Dec;61(12):1048-53. Epub 2005 Oct 21. 2006. PMID:16244092.

Oplinger ES, Oelke EA, Kaminski AR, Kelling KA, Doll JD, Durgan BR et al. Alternative Field Crops Manual: Spelt. http://newcrop.hort.purdue.edu/newc... 2000.

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