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Spelt vs. Oat — Nutrition and Health Differences

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 06, 2024
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Spelt
vs
Oat

Summary

Spelt is higher in carbs, oxalate, glycemic index, selenium, vitamins B3, B6, and E. It contains gluten and FODMAPs. Oats are richer in protein, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins B1, B2, B5, and folate. They are safe to eat for IBS and Celiac. 

Introduction

Grains and cereals are among the most consumed foods in different cuisines and cultures worldwide. There is much controversy around their health effects, which are scientifically inaccurate. We will debunk the most common misconceptions about these cereals. 

In this article, we will compare two types of grains: spelt and oats. 

We will dive deep into their general differences, nutritional differences, and health impacts. 

This article compares oat and spelt in uncooked forms

Nutrition

This section will compare 100g of each in uncooked forms. 

Calories

Oats contain 390 calories, whereas spelt contains 340 calories. In uncooked forms, oats are higher in calories. 

Carbs

Their carb profile is significantly different. Uncooked spelt is higher in carbs compared to uncooked oats. 

Spelt contains 70g of carbs, whereas oats contain 66g. 

Fiber

Even though oats are lower in carbs, their fiber content is the same. 

They both contain a decent amount of fiber, about 10.6g

Glycemic Index

Since they are grains, their glycemic index is considered important. 

Spelt has a higher glycemic index of 63 than oats, with a glycemic index of 59. 

Oxalate

Spelt contains a higher amount of oxalates than oats. Oats contain 16mg of oxalate, which is considered lowSpelt contains 36mg of oxalate.

Protein

Oats contain higher amounts of protein compared to spelt. In oats, 17g of proteins, whereas spelt contains 14.5g of protein.

Fat

In cooked form, this would be negligible; however, in uncooked forms, oats contain about three times more fat (7g) compared to spelt (2.4g)

Minerals

Oat is richer in manganesecopperzincpotassium, phosphorus, magnesiumiron, and calcium. In comparison, spelt is richer in selenium.

Note that spelt contains a decent amount of all the minerals in oats aswell. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Spelt
1
:
9
Oat
Contains more Calcium +440%
Contains more Iron +182.6%
Contains more Magnesium +261.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +248.7%
Contains more Potassium +200%
Contains less Sodium -60%
Contains more Zinc +217.6%
Contains more Copper +191.2%
Contains more Manganese +350.6%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 3% 63% 35% 65% 13% 1% 35% 72% 143% 22%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 17% 177% 127% 225% 38% 1% 109% 209% 642% 0%
Contains more Calcium +440%
Contains more Iron +182.6%
Contains more Magnesium +261.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +248.7%
Contains more Potassium +200%
Contains less Sodium -60%
Contains more Zinc +217.6%
Contains more Copper +191.2%
Contains more Manganese +350.6%

Vitamins

Spelt is richer in vitamins B3 (niacin), B6, and E. In comparison, oat is richer in vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2, B5, and folate

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Spelt
3
:
6
Oat
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +167.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +640.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +363.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +48.8%
Contains more Folate +330.8%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 1% 6% 0% 0% 26% 7% 49% 0% 19% 10% 0% 0% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 0% 0% 0% 191% 33% 19% 81% 28% 43% 0% 0% 0%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +167.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +640.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +363.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +48.8%
Contains more Folate +330.8%

Health Impacts

If you scroll through social media's nutrition and health section, maybe one out of four posts talks about the bad impacts of grains such as oats. However, are these claims evidence-based or just personal opinions? 

In short, these are personal opinions that are wrong. They are not evidence-based, and even if they are in a way brought from scientific papers, they are manipulated with different biases. But let's dig in and discuss them. 

Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes

Spelt has antioxidative properties from damage caused by prolonged hyperglycemia. It reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes complications (1). 

Oats are one of the top foods you can consider consuming for a balanced diet. Compared to spelt, they are a highly researched food. Oats have been shown to have antidiabetogenic and lipid-lowering properties, which decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes overall. Oats are associated with decreased cholesterol levels. 

Oats are associated with decreased HbA1c levels in people with diabetes (2). 

In addition, insulin control was observed when oats and oatmeal were included in a diet specifically designed for type 2 diabetics (3). 

Phytic Acid

We often hear that whole grains such as oats and spelt contain phytic acid, which prevents nutrient absorption. However, when we cook and process these oats and spelt, this phytic acid gets neutralized and won't affect our dietary needs. In addition, we consume more nutrients and calories than we need most of the time, and the tiny amount of phytic acid, if consumed, will not show any significant decrease in nutrient absorption (4). 

Obesity 

What is the relation of grains with obesity

Well, oats are associated with decreased body waist circumference and visceral fat. Overall, there are decreased risks of obesityreduced weight, and improved metabolic indicators associated with oat consumption (5). 

IBS and Gluten Intolerance

Oats naturally do not contain gluten and are safe to consume for IBS, gluten intolerance, or Celiac (6)

Oats are gluten-free. 

Spelt contains gluten and FODMAPs, which should not be consumed in both IBS and gluten intolerance or celiac diets (7)

It is important to consider sources of oats. Sometimes, oats are processed in areas where wheat is also kept, which might mix small amounts of gluten in the oats and trigger symptoms of Celiac. However, it's not due to the oats itself.  

Beta-Glucans and Overall Health

Oats are the highest-containing cereals for beta-glucans, and spelt is the lowest

Thus, beta-glucan has numerous health benefits for our overall health. Beta-glucans in oats are anti-diabetogenic, lower cholesterol, and antioxidative, and they are associated with a healthier cardiovascular and immune system (8)(9)

You can also read about spelt vs. teff.

General Differences

The general differences between oats and spelt are based on their culinary usage, taste, and texture. 

Culinary Usage

Since oats and spelt are considered whole grains, they have multipurpose uses. Oats are mostly processed into oatmeal for breakfast. They are also made into granolaporridge, and even plant-based milk

On a personal note, oat milk is the best-tasting plant-based milk. It is sweeter and milder than most of the rest. 

In comparison, spelt has different uses in the culinary world. Spelt can be used to make bread, pasta, risotto, pilaf, porridgeSpelt flour can also be used as an alternative to wheat flour for different recipes. 

Taste and Texture

Since they are both whole-grain cereals, they have an earthy and nutty taste. However, considering the comparison, spelt has a bolder, nutty flavor and earthier taste than oats. 

Oats are milder in taste and on the sweeter side. When cooked, they are more chewy and easier to consume. 

Oat and spelt contain their bran, part of the grain, considering they are wholegrain.  

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 06, 2024
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Spelt vs Oat infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Spelt
1
:
4
Oat
Contains more Water +709.7%
Contains more Protein +207.1%
Contains more Fats +711.8%
Contains more Carbs +150.6%
Contains more Other +164.6%
6% 26% 67%
Protein: 5.5 g
Fats: 0.85 g
Carbs: 26.44 g
Water: 66.56 g
Other: 0.65 g
17% 7% 66% 8% 2%
Protein: 16.89 g
Fats: 6.9 g
Carbs: 66.27 g
Water: 8.22 g
Other: 1.72 g
Contains more Water +709.7%
Contains more Protein +207.1%
Contains more Fats +711.8%
Contains more Carbs +150.6%
Contains more Other +164.6%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Spelt Oat
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Spelt Oat Opinion
Net carbs 22.54g 55.67g Oat
Protein 5.5g 16.89g Oat
Fats 0.85g 6.9g Oat
Carbs 26.44g 66.27g Oat
Calories 127kcal 389kcal Oat
Starch 19.57g Spelt
Fiber 3.9g 10.6g Oat
Calcium 10mg 54mg Oat
Iron 1.67mg 4.72mg Oat
Magnesium 49mg 177mg Oat
Phosphorus 150mg 523mg Oat
Potassium 143mg 429mg Oat
Sodium 5mg 2mg Oat
Zinc 1.25mg 3.97mg Oat
Copper 0.215mg 0.626mg Oat
Manganese 1.091mg 4.916mg Oat
Selenium 4µg Spelt
Vitamin A 4IU 0IU Spelt
Vitamin E 0.26mg Spelt
Vitamin B1 0.103mg 0.763mg Oat
Vitamin B2 0.03mg 0.139mg Oat
Vitamin B3 2.57mg 0.961mg Spelt
Vitamin B5 1.349mg Oat
Vitamin B6 0.08mg 0.119mg Oat
Folate 13µg 56µg Oat
Tryptophan 0.234mg Oat
Threonine 0.575mg Oat
Isoleucine 0.694mg Oat
Leucine 1.284mg Oat
Lysine 0.701mg Oat
Methionine 0.312mg Oat
Phenylalanine 0.895mg Oat
Valine 0.937mg Oat
Histidine 0.405mg Oat
Saturated Fat 1.217g Spelt
Monounsaturated Fat 2.178g Oat
Polyunsaturated fat 2.535g Oat

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Spelt Oat
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
9%
Spelt
30%
Oat
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
45%
Spelt
154%
Oat

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Spelt
Spelt is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.217g)
Which food is cheaper?
Spelt
Spelt is cheaper (difference - $0.6)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Oat
Oat contains less Sodium (difference - 3mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Oat
Oat is lower in glycemic index (difference - 4)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Oat
Oat is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar ( g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Spelt - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169746/nutrients
  2. Oat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169705/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.