In this article, we look into the nutritional profile of spelt to answer the question “Is spelt gluten-free?”. We also guide you through the health benefits of spelt consumption and provide you with non-gluten-free and gluten-free spelt alternatives.
Spelt is a grain, also known as dinkel or hulled wheat. It is a variety of the wheat we know today but was cultivated yet in ancient times. An ancient grain refers to a grain that is pretty much unchanged or altered in hundreds of years. As spelt is from the wheat family, it has a similar nutritional profile to the common wheat and is often used as a substitute. You can find it in cookies, bread, pastries, cereals, and other baked goods. 
Nutritional profile of spelt
The general understanding about spelt is that it has superior nutrient composition compared to regular wheat. However, the abundance of nutrients in spelt strongly depends on the environmental conditions in which the grain was grown, as well as the afterward processing. 
According to the USDA Food Data Central database, 100 grams of cooked spelt have 127 calories and contain 26.4g carbs (3.9g fiber), 0.85g fats, and 5.5 g protein. 
According to a 2012 study, spelt has higher protein and lipid (fat) content, but is lower in insoluble and total fiber when compared to wheat. 
Spelt contains gluten; therefore, it is not gluten-free and is not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
This way, people with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or allergy should be cautious and avoid spelt consumption to prevent immune response and adverse symptoms.
Vitamins and minerals
Spelt contains the following micronutrients and healthy dietary compounds:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin E
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that spelt wholemeals could be richer in copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus than traditional wheat.  Nonetheless, other research pieces show no difference in micronutrient content, except for higher zinc content in spelt than in wheat.
The glycemic index (GI) of spelt varies between 55 and 67, which is considered low to medium GI and is lower than the GI of traditional wheat. 
Gluten-free alternatives of spelt (or spelt four) are:
- Corn (tip: look for a gluten-free label when you buy cornmeal, grits and polenta)
- Rice, soy, potato, or bean flour
- Rice (tip: opt for brown rice)
- Tapioca (cassava root)
If you don’t stick to a gluten-free diet, here are some spelt substitutes that have gluten:
- Wheat (all kinds, preferably whole grain)
Spelt health benefits
Similarly to other whole grains, spelt consumption (as part of a balanced and diverse diet) is associated with various health benefits, including  :
- Increased satiety
- Weight management
- Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic health conditions
- Gut health support