Is Whole Grain Rye a Healthy Food?

by Sandra Ketcham

Whole grain rye helps protect against heart disease and other health problems.

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Unlike refined rye, whole grain rye does not have its germ and bran removed through milling. It contains all naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the entire grain. Because of this, whole grain rye is a better source of fiber than refined rye or other milled grains and therefore offers the same benefits as other whole grains.


Rye looks similar to wheat, but the grain is longer and varies in color from gray-green to yellow-brown. Rye typically has a deeper, stronger taste than other grains and breads made from rye are often denser and more compact due to the reduced elasticity of rye's gluten.

Benefits of Whole Grain Rye

A diet that includes whole grain rye and other sources of dietary fiber may reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other health problems. High-fiber foods also help reduce or control weight by making you feel fuller for longer periods, thereby curbing the urge to overeat at meals and snack between meals. Fiber is not the only beneficial ingredient in whole grain rye; researchers are looking into the beneficial effects of the lignans, antioxidants, phenolic acids and phytoestrogens in whole-grain foods.

Sources of Whole Grain Rye

Rye is not as familiar to most American consumers as whole wheat or oat, but it is available in most supermarkets as pre-sliced bread, often partially flavored with caraway seeds. Whole grain rye is commonly found in bread mixes or recipes originating from Scandinavia and Northern Europe, but breads are not the only potential source of whole grain rye. The Whole Grains Council states that rye berries make great additions to rice, soups and salads. Whole grain rye is also available in many health food stores in cracked or whole grain form or as flakes.


Not all rye is whole grain, and you must check food labels carefully before purchasing rye products to ensure you are getting as much fiber as possible. MayoClinic.com recommends choosing products that list whole grains near the top of the ingredient list, and buying products that contain a minimum of three grams of fiber per serving. Whole-grain rye items may also list rye berries in the ingredient list, according to the Whole Grains Council.

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About the Author

Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."