Outside of Scandinavia, rye bread can be a bit of a niche proposition. The dense bread is beloved by the health-conscious among us though, and switching from wheat breads to rye could bring you a range of benefits.
Here are 9 health benefits of rye bread that may make you consider adopting it as your sandwich standard.
1. Rye bread is full of fiber.
We all know in theory that we should seek out high-fibre foods to help our digestion and cholesterol, among others reasons, but finding the right foods to hit our intake isn’t always easy.
Handily, rye bread is incredibly high in fibre, with twice as much as most standard wheat-based breads.
Rhiannon Lambert a Harley Street nutritionist and author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way to Eat Well (£19.99, Yellow Kite) says “the additional fibre [in rye bread] may aid digestion and may also help you to feel nice and full for a longer period of time after a meal.”
2. It’ll fill you up for longer
Speaking of appetite, a study in Sweden, where rye bread is widely consumed, found that eating it as part of your breakfast not only makes you feel less hungry before lunch, but even has a knock-on effect afterwards.
Effectively, rye bread can help control your appetite and leave you feeling satiated all day, which should put it in pole position as your breakfast of choice ahead of a trying day – or if you know someone’s scheduled a pesky lunchtime meeting.
Rye unfortunately still contains some of the pesky proteins found in gluten grains, so those with an intolerance or coeliac disease should avoid it. However, if you’re trying to cut down on gluten without avoiding it altogether, rye could be a perfect substitute to that early morning bagel.
It has lower levels than most white breads, which is partly why it’s so dense, making it a great option for people who have a slight sensitivity.
4. It’s packed with nutrients
Rye is a great source of iron and magnesium, offering more of each than most wheat, and even packs a bonus helping of zinc too.
If you’re lacking in these vital nutrients, it can affect both your mood and your energy levels. Rye bread also contains around twice as much potassium as white bread, which is important for regulating blood pressure. “There is a lot more to a slice of bread than just carbohydrates to consider,” says Lambert.
5. Rye bread helps avoid energy slumps
Rye is low on the glycaemic index, which means eating rye bread won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet, which can leave you feeling tired and groggy a few hours after eating. A study by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating high fibre rye bread was better at stablizing blood-sugar levels compared to wheat breads. You can even make your own and get the whole family involved, making it a fun energizing family activity as well as a nutritious addition to your diet.
6. It can balance your hormones
Rye bread is packed with phytoestrogens – plant-based compounds that have similar effects to estrogen produced in the body. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens have been shown to boosts estrogen levels in the body and aid hormonal balance.
7. It helps maintain a health heart
Eating rye bread can boost heart health in several ways. The grain is packed full of magnesium, which helps control blood pressure and its high soluble fibre content makes it effective at lowering cholesterol levels.
8. It may help prevent cancer
Various studies have looked at the effects of rye in preventing and fighting cancer. The Finish Institute for Preventive Medicine, Nutrition and Cancer found that the fibre and bioactive compounds in rye had anticarcinogenic properties and therefore may help prevent breast, prostate and colon cancer. Others studes have shown that a peptide called lunasin found in rye bread has cancer preventive properties. A study published in the Cancer Causes Control journal found that rye bread consumption during adolescence helped lower the risk of prostate cancer.
9. Rye bread could help to fight asthma
Parents around the world know the struggle of white bread versus brown bread.
But the benefits of rye bread for a child’s health could make it worth persevering. A recent study found that children’s diets play a significant role in the likelihood of their developing asthma, and rye bread was named as a feature of the sort of diet that may be able to fight against such health risks.
Interested in making your own rye bread? Discover 5 ways baking bread can be good for your mental health.
By Max Freeman-Mills