Surprising Benefits of Rye Bread

By Anne Palumbo

Rye breadTasteless, white Wonder bread was not the only bread I consumed during my growing years. Our family also ate a lot of rye bread: dark pumpernickel, marbled rye and traditional light rye.

My German father insisted on it; and, over time, I grew to love the taste and texture.

Since then, and with each passing year — years marked by disturbingly high cholesterol counts or worrisome digestive issues or tightening waistbands — my fondness for rye has only intensified.

Why rye? Earthy, dense, chewy rye? Like other whole grains with the germ, endosperm and bran intact, unprocessed rye rocks with a variety of nutrients and health benefits.

Rye breadRye is a terrific source of fiber, ranging from about 2 grams to 6 grams per slice, depending on the kind of rye bread consumed. Many of our health problems — from heart disease to certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes to obesity — stem from too little dietary fiber, which is why leading institutions, like the American Heart Association, recommend we consume at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.

Whole-grain rye bread can help meet that goal.

Blood sugar control is important for everyone, especially people with diabetes or at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes; and rye bread — thanks to its unique concentration of fiber, manganese, and phenolics (powerful antioxidants) — aids how we process sugar.

Working together, these important nutrients help stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing both the release and absorption of sugar and insulin into the bloodstream.

Adding whole grains like rye bread to your diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to studies at the Harvard School of Public Health. Multiple factors — from its cholesterol-lowering fiber to its aid in weight control (since whole grains make you feel full longer) to its inflammation-busting plant compounds — all contribute to healthier hearts.

Avocado Rye Toast with Egg, Tomato, and Sriracha Mayo

Serves 2

2 slices rye bread
1 avocado
1-2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
8 thin slices Roma tomato

Sriracha Mayo
2 tablespoons light mayo
¼ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or hot sauce of choice)
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly mash avocado with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk Sriracha mayo ingredients together in small bowl.

Cook eggs any way you like. Toast rye bread. Spread Sriracha mayo (if using) over the toast, then top with avocado mash, tomato slices, and cooked egg. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, if needed.

Helpful tips

If possible, seek authentic rye bread from local bakers. If buying from store, read labels carefully: the first ingredient should say rye flour or rye meal, whether you buy light, dark or marbled rye. True pumpernickel, one of the healthier ryes, is made entirely from coarsely ground whole rye grains. For those who prefer a more lightly flavored rye, Pepperidge Farm makes a “Whole Grain Seeded Rye Bread” with a blend of whole wheat and whole grain rye flours.

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at