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Could spelt grain recipes help in fight against cancer?

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 31, 2013

  • Spelt waffles

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Top chefs have joined Roger Saul, founder of Mulberry and owner of Sharpham Park organic farm and Bowel Cancer UK in a new campaign to fight the disease with tasty high fibre recipes.

The online recipe collection will launch on Monday, and features spelt, the ancient grain that is not only naturally high in fibre, but is easier for the body to break down and digest than wheat. Many people with a wheat intolerance can digest spelt more easily.

More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK and the number is increasing. Bowel Cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, with more than 16,000 people dying every year, one every 30 minutes. However, bowel cancer is treatable and curable. While 90 per cent of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, cases are increasing among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

A high fibre diet is essential to help prevent the disease, and spelt can play a part. Mr Saul, who launched the revival in British spelt production on his Somerset estate, said: “As champions of British spelt, we believe that we have a part to play in communicating the message that a simple high fibre diet can make the difference to reducing the risk of developing bowel cancer.”

The man who founded Mulberry added: “I this is going to be one of the biggest campaigns we have ever done, even in my Mulberry days.”

Thirty top chefs are adding their weight, from the West Country’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Mark Hix and the Fabulous Baker Brotehrs to Heston Blumenthal and Sophie Dahl. The delights they offer include cakes, risottos, and breads.

TV chef Rachel Green, who lost her husband, John, to bowel cancer six months ago, is passionate in her support.

She said: “I am excited to be part of this project. John had a very poor diet, he loved his fried meals, and liked a lot of meat. I think if he had taken more care of himself, possibly if he had spelt and high fibre fruit and vegetables in his diet that would have made the difference.”

In product trials with people with self-diagnosed wheat intolerance, 97 per cent of the women aged 40 and over believed that substituting conventional wheat for spelt reduced symptoms.

Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, home of Mr Saul’s designer village, will host a series of events starting in April at the new café. In April it will feature a different recipe from the collection each week and on April 3 Cat Dresser, Great British Bake Off contestant, will host an Easter biscuit and spelt hot cross scones demo for children and mothers.

Fortnum and Mason of London will also host a Great British Spelt Recipes initiative. During April’s Bowel Cancer Awareness month, Sharpham Park will be donating 10 per cent of sales from the high fibre spelt range, and all proceeds from the celebrity appearances will go to support Bowel Cancer UK.

From April 1 you can find out more at www.greatbritishspeltrecipes.com


Spelt is a natural grain which was brought over from the Middle East around 7,000 years ago and became common in southern England from around 500BC. It has a distinctive, naturally nutty flavour. Unlike common wheat, natural spelt has not been hybridised or chemically altered.

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