Rye is a rich and healthy grain that is often overlooked. It’s loaded with many essential nutrients including protein, fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, and much more. If you pass right by the rye bread at your supermarket, you may want to backtrack, because this nutritious grain has way more to offer than wheat or barley. Here are the top ten impressive health benefits of rye.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Whole grain foods, such as rye products, are excellent sources of fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to the cholesterol in the digestive system and pulls it out of the body before it has a chance to make its way into the bloodstream. Diets high in fiber foods, like rye, have been shown to lower total cholesterol levels and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels while increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Whole grain foods with rye can help to reduce the risk of these dangerous health conditions.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the silent killer because often there are no symptoms, but it can be very dangerous. Long-term hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet recommends whole grains as part of a heart-healthy diet. Rye contains many important nutrients that help to keep blood pressure under control. They include fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and selenium.
Promotes Weight Loss
Research shows that a diet low in fiber is associated with an increased risk of obesity. Whole rye flour contains a lot of fiber, which means that it fills you up and keeps you full for a long time after eating. In various studies on rye, people who ate rye bread in a breakfast meal experienced satiety for up to eight hours after the meal. When compared with people who ate wheat bread and wheat cereals, the rye groups remained full for much longer periods of time.
Rye contains many important anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Its antioxidant profile can be attributed to its varied phytonutrient content. Although it is widely recognized that fruits and vegetables hold the highest antioxidant values of all foods, whole grains are in the running as well. While processed grains may contain little to no antioxidant value, whole grains contain amounts similar to many fruits and vegetables. Free radical damage is responsible for chronic inflammation in the body, which is behind many chronic diseases including allergies, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and many others. Antioxidants are our best defense against these toxins, so whole grains — like rye — can help to defend our bodies against chronic inflammation.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Whole rye bread is low on the glycemic index, meaning that it does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Wheat is higher on the glycemic index because it breaks down more quickly in the body. This causes blood sugar spikes, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. The best bread for controlling insulin response is endosperm rye bread and whole grain rye bread — especially sourdough bread.
Gallstones are solid particles that form in the gallbladder when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. They can be very painful and even lead to dangerous complications. Research shows that eating foods that are high in insoluble fiber, such as rye, can help to prevent gallstones. In a 16-year trial conducted in the Nurses Health Study, it was discovered that the higher the fiber intake among women, the lower their chances were of developing gallstones. This is great news for people who eat rye bread because it has tons of fiber!
Foods high in fiber help to prevent and treat constipation. The fiber absorbs water and bulks up the stool, making for easier bowel movements. It also prevents cramping, gas, and diarrhea. Furthermore, rye is considered a pre-biotic. It helps to increase the levels of good gut bacteria, creating a healthier gut environment.
Antioxidants prevent free radical damage that causes alterations in healthy cell DNA. This is the start of the formation of cancer cells. Research shows that rye has similar antioxidant activity to that of fruits and vegetables. Not only do its antioxidants help to fight cancer in all areas of the body, but its composition does as well. Since rye is a healthy digestive aid — both for its fiber and its pre-biotic properties — it creates a healthy gut environment, reducing the risk of colon cancer. Studies also show a link between increased fiber intake from whole grains and decreased risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.
Down-Regulates Harmful Genes
Everyone in the world is born with a set of genes that determine the sex, height, hair color, eye color, skin color — and often, health condition — of each person. Certain genes make people more susceptible to specific health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and others. Research shows that people can manage these gene expressions with a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, a person may be more susceptible to heart disease than others, but if he eats healthy foods and exercises, he may be able to keep that “on/off” switch off his whole life. Studies show that rye helps to down-regulate the genes which make a person more susceptible to health conditions.
Improves Menopause Symptoms
Rye contains compounds called lignans which have phytoestrogens activity. These compounds act like estrogen in the body and help to normalize estrogen activity. This is good news for menopausal women who experience symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes, sleep problems, weight gain, and vaginal dryness because of their plummeting estrogen levels. Rye is an excellent addition to a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. It’s filling, delicious, and nutritious. You can benefit in so many ways by adding this whole grain to your diet.