Why can`t I find spelt in the Food Composition table? Is spelt flour healthier than other flour?

The Food Composition table does not have any nutrient values for spelt, because no sufficient documentation exists that spelt flour differs from ordinary wheat flour. If you want the nutrient values for spelt flour, you can use the values for wheat flour (wholemeal and sifted), because spelt belongs to the wheat family. There is not any factual evidence in support of spelt being healthier than wheat flour.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a grain in the wheat family, closely related to wheat. Spelt is one of the original wheat varieties, and consists of several subspecies. In Norway, spelt has been cultivated for many years, and the most common subspecies are Oberkulmer Rotkorn and Ebners Rotkorn.

In recent years several products based on spelt flour have come on the market. Some people claim spelt is healthier than common wheat, and also that spelt contains a higher level of proteins and some vitamins and minerals.

So far, analyses comparing nutrient values in spelt with wheat do not give any clear answer if spelt has a better nutritional content than common wheat. Some analysis shows a higher content of some micronutrients in spelt, such as iron, zinc and copper, but the differences are small and not consistent.

The content of nutrients in the flour depends on several factors, such as weather conditions, ways of cultivation, how the flour is grinded and the coarseness of the flour. The choice of wheat variety is a less determining factor.

Usually, spelt cultivated in Norway is grinded at smaller mills, often stone mills, with following sifting, as opposed to grinding of wheat and rye which often take place at large and modern roller mills.

By grinding wheat at modern roller mills, it is easy to separate the different parts of the grain. At a stone mill, or a more primitive roller mill, it is more complicated to separate the different parts. Sifted flour from such mills usually contains more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. The flour may be of a better nutritional quality, but of a poorer baking quality. Thus, the type of mill used in grinding of the flour may have a larger impact on the nutrient content than what kind of grain the flour is made of. Comparing sifted spelt flour with wheat flour rolled with the same method, there are only small differences in the nutrient content.

The largest difference in nutrient intake comes from the choice between wholemeal (coarse flour) and sifted flour (white flour). Wholemeal flour contains more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Wholemeal wheat flour contains approximately 12 g of dietary fibre per 100 g, compared to only 3,4 g per 100 g in sifted wheat flour.

Both common wheat and spelt contain gluten and people with coeliac disease can not eat food containing common wheat or spelt.

References:

"The nutritional composition of Norwegian white wheat flour, 78% extraction". Analysis report from Norwegian Food Safety Authority, The Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social affairs and University of Oslo, 2008.