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Spelt cereal is a whole grain breakfast food made from a relative of the wheat plant. It is a nutritious cereal because of the properties of the spelt grains. The cereal commonly comes in whole-, rolled- and split-grain forms and can be eaten like oatmeal after being cooked. The spelt also can be processed like traditional cereal and turned into flakes or puffed granules. Cereals that are made from spelt enjoy popularity with some people who have allergies to normal wheat, because spelt cereal is easier to digest and can potentially cause fewer digestive problems.
The grain from which spelt cereal is made has been grown for thousands of years, starting in the Middle East and Mediterranean and eventually working its way into Europe during the Middle Ages. It has a high amount of vitamins and minerals, including protein, manganese and niacin. Many of the health benefits of spelt cereal are much more pronounced when it is eaten as a whole grain that has not been processed. Spelt cereal is easier to digest than some grains and can be eaten without adverse reactions by some people who have an intolerance to wheat products. Spelt cereal does contain glutens, however, and cannot be consumed by most people suffering from celiac disease.
A homemade spelt cereal can be made from scratch by using the whole grain. The spelt first needs to be roughly ground so it will cook more quickly. It is then added to boiling water and allowed to simmer until it is soft enough to be eaten. Like oatmeal, this can be served with honey, fruits or spices such as cinnamon. Commercial spelt mixes also are available in traditional cereal-like shapes or in a form like oatmeal flakes that can be cooked quickly, with some varieties being fortified with vitamins.
Spelt cereal is commercially available but is not as common in the United States as it is in certain European countries. The whole grain spelt, which can be cooked into a cereal, is easier to find than the cereal version and can be found in health food stores. The popularity of spelt as an alternative to wheat has been slowly growing in the United States, although wheat is still used more frequently.
Spelt is a whole grain, so cereal that is made from it shares many of the expected health benefits. These can include a reduction in the risks for heart disease, a reduction in the risk of diabetes and a reduction in the risk for acquiring certain types of cancer. The positive effects are especially pronounced in women who have passed through menopause.