Alternative wheat: Know the 6 main varieties of wheat

Common wheat absolutely dominates the production and market of this cereal, but there are other very interesting varieties for their nutritional and culinary qualities.

For a few years, wheat has had a bad reputation among many people interested in healthy eating. Its protein (gluten) is blamed for causing inflammation and allergies. However, before it was a staple food for much of humanity. We are going to reel off its qualities.

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After barley, wheat is the second oldest grain. The oldest finds date from between 7800 and 5200 BC Wheat arose from the crossing of various types of grasses and wild grains in the Middle East, in the so-called Fertile Crescent or Crescent, which spanned from Egypt to Assyria. Around 2000 BC wheat reached Europe in the course of Indo-European migrations.


Wheat varieties have significantly different qualities and it is convenient to know them to choose the one that best suits personal tastes and needs:


Spelled comes directly from wild wheat and is one of the oldest forms of cultivated wheat. In the 20th century, this grain became residual because its crop yield is low compared to other varieties of wheat.

Now there is a tendency to value spelled for its taste and because it has a higher content of nutrients and antioxidants. For example, spelled contains twice as much lutein as common wheat and 42% more zinc.

Today spelled is used on a small scale, and can be found in bread and pasta in ‘signature” bakeries.

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Farro wheat comes from Egypt and was the first wheat cultivated by man more than 12,000 years ago. This wheat lost its importance in Europe in modern times, but in the twentieth century interest in it resurfaced and today you can find various farro-based products such as breads, pastas and craft beers.

A quality of farro wheat is the resistance of the plant, which does not require herbicides and adapts very well to organic methods.


Bread wheat or common wheat is the best known common wheat and accounts for 95% of the wheat grown in the world that is used to make bread and pasta.

This wheat is the result of successive crosses made by farmers and in recent decades, in molecular biology laboratories (without resorting to transgenic techniques). In the 1960s these techniques resulted in lower wheat resistant to cultivation with fertilizers.


The spelled probably comes from the territory of Iran. It originated from a cross between farro and other wild grass.

Spelled was an important commercial grain until the 18th century, then its cultivation steadily declined due to low yield and complex processing (the grain is firmly attached to the shell)?

Spelled cultivation, which is well adapted to the cold and humid climate, has increased in recent years to make breads and beers. Nutritionally it is richer in vitamins B2 and B3 than common wheat.

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Durum wheat is the second most widely cultivated type of wheat. It is richer in protein than common wheat, but it does not perform well in baking, which is why it is used to make the flours with which dry pasta and couscous are made.

Durum wheat contains more beta-carotene and its glycemic index is lower than that of common wheat.


Khorasan wheat is the result of a natural cross between durum wheat and a wild form of wheat. It is one of the oldest cultivated cereals and originally comes from Khorasan (historical area in present-day Iran and Afghanistan).

Due to its resistance to pests, this grain is very suitable for organic farming and for making pasta.

In stores this wheat is found with the Kamut brand, patented in the United States.

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