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5 shocking benefits of rye bread and side effects

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Discover the 5 shocking benefits of rye bread and side effects.

Although rye was a popular cereal at one time, it is rarely found on our plates today.

However, rye should have its place in a balanced diet, as it is said to have various beneficial effects on health.

It would act, among other things, against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Its consumption would also improve intestinal health.


Rye characteristics

Excellent source of dietary fiber;

Antioxidant power;

Rich in vegetable proteins;


Source of gluten;

Interesting content in vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional and caloric values of rye

Focus on the micronutrients contained in rye

Among the nutrients contained in good quantity in rye, we can mention the following:



Rye flour is an excellent source of manganese, while the grain is a great source for women and a good source for men, as their needs are different.

Rye bread is a good source of manganese for women, but is only a source for men.

Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes.

It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals;



Rye bread is a good source of selenium. However, rye seeds and flour are sources of it.

This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body.

It also helps convert thyroid hormones into their active form;


Rye grain, flour and rye bread are sources of phosphorus (see our Phosphorus nutrient list ).


Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium.

It plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps maintain normal blood pH.

Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes;



Rye grain is a source of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system.

It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses;


Rye grain and flour are sources of iron for men while rye bread is a source for men and women, their needs being different. Each body cell contains iron.

This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood.


It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses);


Rye grain is a source of zinc for men and women while rye flour and bread are sources for women only, their needs being different.

Zinc participates in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus.

It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (manufacture), storage and release of insulin;



Rye is a source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body.

Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals;

Vitamin B1.

Rye grain and bread are sources of vitamin B1 for men and women, while rye flour is a source for women only, their needs being different.

Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we ingest.


It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth;

Vitamin B2.

Rye bread is a source of vitamin B2 for men and women while grain is a source for women only, their needs being different.

This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells.

In addition, it contributes to the growth and repair of tissues, the production of hormones and the formation of red blood cells;


Vitamin B3.

Rye grain and bread are sources of vitamin B3. Also called niacin, this vitamin participates in many metabolic reactions and particularly contributes to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol that we ingest.

It also participates in the process of DNA formation, allowing normal growth and development;

Pantothenic acid.

Rye grain is a source of pantothenic acid. Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately utilize the energy found in the foods we eat.

It also participates in several stages of the synthesis of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin;



Rye bread is a source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the manufacture of all cells in the body, including red blood cells.

This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds.

As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.

Benefits of rye bread

Grain products are of great importance in our diet. One of the dietary recommendations for health is to give “the greater part to cereals, breads and other cereal products as well as to vegetables and fruits”.


Emphasis is also placed on choosing whole grain or fortified grain products.

The US authorities, for their part, recommend that at least half of the grain products consumed be whole grain.

These recommendations are based on the results of certain epidemiological studies which indicate that the consumption of whole grains is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, certain cancers and obesity.

These beneficial effects are thought to be attributable to the synergy between the many compounds contained in whole grain products, for example fibers, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.


As the majority of these compounds are contained in the bran and the germ, it is advantageous to consume the least refined cereals possible.

1. Phytoestrogen content

Vegetable lignans and isoflavonoids, two types of phytoestrogens that may have preventive effects against certain cancers, such as breast and colon cancer, are found in rye.

A low intake of lignan may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

In the United States, the proportion of breast cancer is higher than in Finland.


This could be explained, among other things, by a greater consumption of rye among the Finns.

In addition, rye bread has the property of increasing the blood level and urinary excretion of a lignan, or enterolactone, in both men and women.

Enterolactone is the main lignan formed after consuming rye bran. Serum enterolactone is believed to be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.

2. Natural source of sterols

Rye also contains several classes of sterols, including sterols combined with ferulic acid (St-Fer).


Although St-Fer is the least abundant class of sterols in whole rye grain, their presence is important because they are considered to be potential antioxidants.

Note that sterols are one of the three main classes of lipids. These are lipids with a structure similar to that of cholesterol.

3. Antioxidant power

Antioxidants are compounds that reduce damage caused by free radicals in the body.

These are very reactive molecules that are believed to be involved in the onset of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and other diseases linked to aging.


Alkylresorcinols: Alkylresorcinols are phenolic fats (molecules that plants produce to protect themselves against bacteria and fungi) found in large quantities in the outer layer of wheat and rye.

They are found in very small quantities in other cereals. Alkylresorcinols may have some bioactive effects.

They can be absorbed by humans and detected intact in plasma and red blood cells, and as metabolized in urine.

Some studies show that there is an association between the consumption of whole grain rye bread and the levels of alkylresorcinols in plasma and red blood cells.


This means that the amount of alkylresorcinols present in the body roughly indicates the amount of rye consumed.

This is not specific to rye given that alkylresorcinols are also found in wheat.

In addition, alkylresorcinols have been reported as antioxidants and are believed to have anticancer activities;

Phenolic Acids: Phenolic acids extracted from rye bran may act synergistically to contribute to the antioxidant effects of rye.


The four main phenolic acids in rye bran are: caffeic acid, sinapic acid, ferulic acid and p-coumaric.

Ferulic acid is the main phenolic acid in rye bran. It is recognized to have antioxidant potential by preventing the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol).

Among the phenolic acids in rye, it is caffeic acid which has the greatest antioxidant power.

It is followed by sinapic acid which is also a potential antioxidant.


Lastly comes p-coumaric which is said to have less antioxidant effect than the other three.

4. Source of dietary fiber

The average fiber content of rye is approximately 16g per 100g of rye.

Most of these fibers are composed of arabinoxylans (60%), celluloses (15%) and beta-glucans (9%).

The positive effects of rye fibers are numerous.


They may lower cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of fat and helping the reabsorption of bile acid, which is derived from cholesterol, in the liver.

Bile acid plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of fat.

In a study of healthy men and women, men who consumed an average of 219 g of rye bread (eight to ten slices per day) saw their LDL cholesterol decrease and their total blood cholesterol level reduced by 8%.

These reductions depended on the amount of rye bread consumed per day.


In women, an average consumption of 163 g of rye bread per day had no effect on their blood cholesterol.

These decreases are important in the context of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to another study, consuming fiber from grains, such as rye, may decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Fiber may also help reduce constipation by increasing the frequency and amount of stool, decreasing bowel transit time, and making bowel movements less difficult in healthy men and women.


The fibers of rye are said to have the property of improving the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine and consequently the secretion of insulin by the pancreas.

Results show that the body’s need for insulin is lower after consuming rye bread than after consuming white bread, which is believed to be beneficial in controlling type 2 diabetes.

Finally, the results of a study show that the consumption of a normal amount of bread made from whole rye flour in a balanced diet would have favorable effects on intestinal function (increase in the volume and frequency of stools and decrease intestinal transit time) and against the risks of colon cancer.


The effects of rye bread would be explained by the beneficial action of its fibers on the contents of the colon.


5. Type 2 diabetes

According to several studies, the consumption of cereal products containing rye grains decreases the glycemic and insulin response.

Rye has a high content of soluble fiber. Therefore, whole grain rye bread causes a decrease in the glycemic response in diabetics unlike white bread.

In addition, the results of a recent intervention study carried out in obese people suffering from hypertension or hypercholesterolemia, or having high blood glucose levels, demonstrate that the response of insulin to the ingestion of A rye-based diet is faster than that linked to the ingestion of an oat-based diet.

In this study, 50% of the bread consumed daily by the subjects was either rye-based or oat-based.


Rye bread contains derivatives of the amino acid phenylalanine, which may stimulate rapid insulin secretion.

Consumption of rye bread may therefore improve long-term glucose tolerance in people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition,

6. Benefits of rye bread for weight loss

Swedish researchers have discovered that breakfasting on rye bread considerably reduces appetite, resulting in 16% fewer calories consumed at lunch. What’s more, the suppression of craving proceeded well into the afternoon.

Is rye bread fattening?

However rye bread is generally healthy, it may have some downsides, including: Contains antinutrients.


Rye bread, particularly the lighter varieties, contain phytic acid, an antinutrient that may inhibit the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc from the same meal.

A word from the nutritionist

Rye contains gluten and is therefore not suitable for those affected by celiac disease and intestinal hypersensitivity to gluten.

To remember the main grains sources of gluten, there is a simple mnemonic: SOBA for rye, barley, wheat and oats.

How to choose the right rye?

Rye belongs to the large Poaceae family, just like barley, rice, wheat and sugar cane. Originally from Central and Eastern Europe, it is now cultivated on most continents.


In France, it is found all year round in most supermarkets in dry or flour form. Its original taste is close to wheat, although it is sweeter than the latter.

Family: Poaceae;

Origin: Europe;

Season: available all year round;


Color: brown;

Flavor: sweeter than wheat.

Choosing the right rye

You can find more or less refined rye flour, flakes, whole or crushed grains, and various processed products, in particular bread, rusks, crackers (dry cakes) and pasta.

The bread is often flavored with caraway, which would have the effect of alleviating the problems of gas attributable to the fibers, of which the plant is particularly rich.


What is pumpernickel bread?

Most breads sold under this name do not contain rye flour or if they do, it is highly refined flour.

Their coloring is attributable to the molasses or caramel that is used in their manufacture.

Read the list of ingredients to make sure you are dealing with real rye bread.

For optimal conservation


Grains: in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, protected from light;

Wholemeal flour: in the refrigerator or, if it is to be kept for several months, in the freezer.

How to prepare rye bread

In cooking, rye offers a multitude of possibilities. In fact, its whole grains can be cooked like most cereals and constitute an accompaniment that is both nutritious and original.

Rye flour, on the other hand, can be slipped into most pastry and bakery recipes. Finally, we also cook rye in the form of flakes or pasta.


Prepare whole rye grains

Soak them overnight (2 to 3 parts water to 1 part rye) to reduce cooking time, then boil them for about an hour. Then, we can use them as follows:

Prepare them like rice, for example in pilaf and risotto, taking into account the differences in cooking time.

Or prepare them in the oriental style, by cooking them with grated ginger, onions seared in oil and tofu. Season with soy sauce just before serving with raw vegetables;

Add the crushed grains to the bread mixes, to which they will give a crunch. Or use it in a tabbouleh salad, couscous, etc. ;


To vary, mix wheat, rye and barley in the desired proportions, and cook these grains together;

The grains are used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, beer, bourbon.

What to do with rye flour?

It can be made into flat breads (chapatis) and porridge, or used to thicken sauces and soups. Or, partly replace wheat flour in bread mixes, cakes, muffins, etc. ;

We can make pancakes with buckwheat flour and rye flour that we will serve with autumn fruits (apples, pears) cooked in butter;


The Finns traditionally cook fish or meat in a foil packet made from rye paste. Mushrooms, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips or cabbage are added depending on the season.

We close the papillote and bake in the oven. The papillote with smoked salmon seasoned with dill is worth trying;

Gingerbread, famous throughout Europe and of which there are many variations, is composed, in its simplest form, of rye flour, honey, milk, eggs and spices which are has at the time of its preparation (anise and coriander seed, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, orange and lemon zest);

Gratinated slices of bread: mix finely grated cheddar cheese with sliced olives and dressing, and season with curry powder.


Spread this mixture on the bread and put eight to ten minutes in an oven set to 240 ° C (465 ° F).

Serve garnished with small peppers, a hard-boiled egg, lettuce crumble, thin slices of carrots, etc. ;

Use stale bread in the French toast or bread pudding recipe. You can also grind it to make breadcrumbs, to use in gratins, sauces or to coat a fish to grill.

Cooking with rye products

Flakes: add them to muesli or granola, or cook them like oatmeal;


Pasta: Italian style with grilled vegetables and, if desired, a few diced prosciutto;

Sprouted rye: discard grains that are moldy or have an unpleasant odor. Soak the grains for 8 hours to 14 hours and let them germinate. The young shoots will be ready 24 hours to 36 hours later.

Contraindications and side effects of rye bread

Rye is generally good for health and for the functioning of the body. However, it must be limited or even completely avoided in certain specific cases.

It contains gluten as well as fermentable fibers that are unsuitable for people with celiac disease or for certain subjects affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If in doubt, consult a health professional.


Compounds that are both harmful and beneficial in cereals …

Cereal grains contain phytochemicals. One of them, phytic acid, has the ability to bind to certain minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc), which reduces their absorption in the intestine.

However, researchers agree that in a context where there is food abundance and diversity and where nutritional deficiency is rather marginal, this effect has little impact on health.

The consumption of phytic acid (or phytate) would even be beneficial since it acts as an antioxidant in the body. It would help protect against colon cancer and cardiovascular disease.


Celiac disease

Celiac disease affects 0.5 to 1% of the world’s population. People with it have a lifelong intolerance to gluten, a protein found in the grains of many grains.

This protein is toxic to people with celiac disease and its consumption can lead to intestinal symptoms, such as malabsorption of several nutrients.

The treatment for celiac disease involves completely excluding gluten from the diet. Rye contains gluten, which means you should avoid consuming it when you have celiac disease.

Rye and FODMAP

For those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rye and its by-products contain high amounts of fructans, chains of a few units of fructose linked between each unit that is not digestible in the ‘human.


They are poorly absorbed in the intestine and are therefore 99% found in the colon.

Later, the bacteria in the colon break them up and there is excessive fermentation in people with IBS. Rye should therefore be limited in this case as well.

History and anecdotes

The term “rye” appeared in the language in 1350. It comes either from the Latin secale which means “what is cut”, or from the old Provençal segle.

The terms “mesil” and “champart” designate, in Europe, mixtures of grains that are sown, harvested and prepared together. They are made up of wheat and rye, and wheat, rye and barley, respectively.


A little history

Much like barley and wheat, rye comes from the Middle East, but unlike them, it prefers cold climates.

So much so that its natural habitat is rather to the north of this region as well as in altitude.

In Anatolia, the name “wheat of Allah” is given to the rye which grows spontaneously through wheat and barley, because it is believed that Allah intentionally sowed it to compensate for the poor harvests of bad years and to nourish its people.

Rye arrived quite late in agriculture, at least as a crop in itself. Indeed, for a long time, it will be accidentally harvested at the same time as wheat or barley without having been expressly sown, behaving rather like a weed which invaded the fields where these two cereals were cultivated.


However, we will discover that, in bad years, its yields are significantly better than those of the other two, so that it will gain ground and eventually become a cereal in its own right.

It happened 3000 to 4000 years before our era, probably in Anatolia, where it was started to be domesticated.

However, it will only be appreciated in areas where other grains do not grow well, due to a lack of rich soil or mild temperatures.

This is not the case with the Mediterranean basin, which is doubly blessed in this regard. The Greeks will therefore despise this cereal which they have no need.


They will be imitated in this by the Romans, who find that it smells bad. They will only tolerate it when mixed with spelled and, again, only to feed the poor classes.

Nevertheless, they will involuntarily spread it outside the Empire, mixed with the wheat and barley with which it grows spontaneously.

It will be adopted in Scandinavia and Germany, where climatic conditions and soil type favor its establishment.

In the Middle Ages, the need to feed a growing population led to the cultivation of marginal lands, not very suitable for wheat and barley, but suitable for rye.


It will therefore take on great importance in many European countries, particularly for peasants, who consume it on a daily basis, while wheat is reserved for urban populations.

At the end of the 18th century, it was consumed throughout Eastern and Northern Europe, and until the 20th century, a third of Europeans would put it on the menu.

In North America, it was cultivated from the earliest times of colonization, particularly in the northeast, where wheat and barley suffered from cold temperatures.

However, since World War II, all over the world, including countries where it was traditionally grown, it has been declining steadily in favor of wheat and other grains.


Bread is definitely the main rye food product. In the countries of Eastern Europe, with stale bread, kvass is made, a slightly alcoholic drink with recognized nutritional properties.

In the United States, much of the grain goes into whiskey making, while in Russia it is made into vodka. In the past, we used to prepare an ersatz coffee with roasted beans.

It is also cultivated specifically as a host plant for ergot, a fungus from which the active ingredients are extracted, which are widely used in medicine. In addition, in Finland, where it has always played a key role,

Rye ergot

From the 7th to the 19th century, 132 ergotism epidemics were recorded in Europe.


This disease, formerly called “Feu de Saint-Antoine” or “Mal des Ardents”, results from the consumption of flour prepared with cereal grains, especially rye, infected by ergot.

This fungus produces two types of symptoms, necrosis and gangrene of the extremities, which often lead to seizures and hallucinations causing aberrant behaviors.

However, it was not until the 18th century that the link was established between these various symptoms and the consumption of ergot flour.

In the United States, modern researchers have hypothesized that the episode of “witchcraft” which broke out in Salem in 1632 and which affected a dozen young girls – the famous witches of Salem – would in fact have been due to ergot poisoning.


This hypothesis gained ground and, looking at French archives in retrospect, it was found that it was not uncommon for episodes of witchcraft to coincide with epidemics of ergotism.

In fact, some argue that witch hunts rarely took place where rye was not eaten, which could explain the extent of the phenomenon in Germany, a large consumer of this cereal.

Today, rye is subject to strict controls to ensure that grain intended for humans or livestock does not contain more than 0.5% ergot.


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