What Is Whole Grain Rye Bread?

Jay Leone

Whole grain rye bread is any type of rye bread made with every part of raw rye grain seeds including the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. There are many different types of rye bread that utilize whole rye grains including pumpernickel, a very heavy, slightly sweet rye bread. Whole grains are generally very healthy and offer many benefits when taken on a regular basis. Eating these grains can help reduce the risks of certain cancers, childhood asthma, and heart disease.

Whole grain rye bread uses whole grain flour.
Whole grain rye bread uses whole grain flour.

Great sources of protein, whole rye grains can contain anywhere between 10 and 15 percent protein. Whole rye grains also offer a generous amount of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants among many other beneficial nutrients. Breads made with these grains offer health benefits beyond what breads made mostly out of flour or partial grains can offer.

Rye bread that uses the whole rye grain is considered a whole grain bread.
Rye bread that uses the whole rye grain is considered a whole grain bread.

The bran part of rye seed is the tough outer skin, which is designed to protect the other parts from water, pests, sunlight, and disease. Rye bran contain B vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. When fertilized, the germ component of a rye seed can sprout and grow into a new rye plant. The germ from a rye seed contains a little protein, some healthy fats, B vitamins, and minerals. Endosperm provides food for the germ and contains proteins, carbohydrates, and small amounts of minerals and vitamins.

Whole grain rye bread uses the entire raw rye grain seed.
Whole grain rye bread uses the entire raw rye grain seed.

Many countries around the world produce and consume different types of whole grain rye bread. Rye grains are slender and grow in a variety of colors from grayish green to yellowish brown, depending on the variety. A majority of the rye used across the globe is commercially grown in countries such as Poland, Canada, China, Denmark and Russia.

Eating whole grains can help reduce the risks of childhood asthma and heart disease.
Eating whole grains can help reduce the risks of childhood asthma and heart disease.

Whole grains are naturally cholesterol free and low in fat. Many whole grain rye bread manufacturers add no preservatives, sugars, or fats to their products, which further contributes to their health benefits. Rye grains and other whole grains contain large amounts of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for healthy enzyme activity in the body. Many whole grains are also rich in phosphorous, manganese and selenium.

Fiber has the ability to remove toxins from the body by binding to them in the colon. Whole grain rye bread contains an abundance of fiber. Fiber protects cells within the colon from harm and is known to help prevent colon cancer. Other health benefit linked with fiber are that it helps speed along digestion and reduces bile acid secretion, which can lead to gallstones.

Whole grain rye bread is typically low fat, cholesterol free, and high in fiber.
Whole grain rye bread is typically low fat, cholesterol free, and high in fiber.

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Discussion Comments


When I was in Finland, I had the best whole grain rye bread there. The Finns have been eating rye bread for centuries and they know how good it is for us. I learned from a baker there that whole grain rye bread has the highest fiber amount, I think he said something like 15%. And it's apparently also one of the few breads with the lowest glycemic index. So it's the best choice for people who have metabolic disorders like diabetes.

I certainly felt great eating whole grain rye bread while I was in Finland. It kept me full and surprisingly energetic for a long time. I usually get hungry about two hours after breakfast and need to have a snack. But when I had whole grain rye bread for breakfast, I did not get hungry until lunch time.

After I returned from Finland, I did some searching and found a decent whole grain rye bread supplier in my city. It's not as good as the Finnish one, but it's not too bad either. I actually should learn how to bake bread and make my own at home but I've been too lazy so far.


@burcinc-- I think whole grain rye bread is made from rye flour that was coarsely milled and where the bran and germ of the rye was not removed. So the ingredients will probably just say whole grain rye flour. Plus, if it is sliced bread, you should be able to see some of the bran and germ in the bread through the packaging.

I suppose producers could also make whole grain rye bread by mixing rye meal with rye flour. But then, it should mention rye meal in the ingredients list. And yes, rye meal is whole grain because it has the bran and germ.

If you are buying fresh whole bread and you don't have the opportunity to see the inside of the bread, you should ask what type of rye flour has been used. If it was made with light rye flour, then it is not whole grain. The assumption of dark bread being whole grain is true in this case. Because whole grain rye flour is called dark rye flour and does look darker than the rest.


So is whole grain rye bread simply bread made with rye meal?

What do I need to look for in the ingredients list of packaged rye breads to know if it truly is whole grain or not?

I wasn't a huge fan of rye bread in the past. But lately I am trying to eat healthier and I learned that rye bread is healthier than wheat bread and is more nutritious. I tried a rye bread sandwich at a restaurant last week and it was very delicious. So I've decided to switch from wheat bread to whole grain rye bread as my staple.

I'm a little confused about how I can make sure that the bread I'm buying is really whole grain though. I used to think that if the bread looks brown, then it must be whole grain. I know now that that's not the right approach, so I want to be able to tell apart whole grain rye from the rest.

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