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Is Sourdough Rye Bread Healthy?

By Rikki Hoffman, RDN, CDN

If you’ve ever had a sandwich on rye bread, you know there’s nothing quite like its slightly nutty flavor. Fortunately, in addition to being delicious, rye bread has some nutritional benefits that help it fit nicely into a healthy diet, especially when it’s a rye sourdough bread. This article explores the various benefits of both rye bread and sourdough bread - separately and together. 

What is sourdough rye bread? What is in sourdough rye bread?

Sourdough rye bread is a slow-fermented bread made with rye flour and a sourdough starter. There are four different types of rye bread: light rye bread, dark rye bread, marbled rye bread, and pumpernickel bread. Light rye bread is made from white rye flour and is considered a refined bread. Dark rye bread can be made from whole rye grains, but not always. Some dark rye breads are made with a white rye flour and then colored with cocoa powder, instant coffee, or molasses. Marbled rye bread is made from light and dark rye doughs that are rolled together. Pumpernickel bread is made from coarsely ground whole rye grains. Any of these four types of rye bread can also be sourdough if the dough is fermented.

Is sourdough rye better for you? How healthy is sourdough rye bread?

Sourdough rye bread may be made with white or whole grain rye. Like other whole grains, rye contains important nutrients, such as complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein. Rye even contains more fiber than other whole grains, as well as certain b-vitamins, including folate. Flour made from whole grains has been shown to help lower cholesterol, keep blood sugar more stable in diabetics, and keep you feeling full longer; whole grain flour is therefore considered healthier than regular white flour. The fermentation process of sourdough bread may add nutritional value, by increasing the availability of certain nutrients in the bread. To identify the healthiest sourdough rye bread, look for “100% whole grain rye flour” to be the first ingredient, or the second ingredient after water.

Is sourdough rye bread good for weight loss?

Sourdough rye bread may aid in weight loss. One study found that mice that were fed a diet of whole grain rye had reduced body weight when compared to mice fed a diet of whole grain wheat. Another small study found that whole grain rye bread, especially sourdough rye bread, helped control blood sugar and appetite in humans, which could certainly help with weight loss. However, more studies are needed to determine how good sourdough rye bread is for weight loss in humans. As with all whole grain breads, the nutritional value of sourdough rye bread also depends on the other ingredients. If the bread contains added sugar, this can be detrimental for a weight loss goal.

Is sourdough rye bread easy to digest?

There is good reason to believe that sourdough rye bread is particularly helpful with digestion.  Rye has been found to improve mild constipation when compared with white bread, even better than some laxatives! And the long fermentation period of some sourdough breads may alter the starch content of the bread, making it more easily digestible than other breads for some people.

Is sourdough rye bread good for IBS?

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. Some patients with IBS follow a low FOD-MAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet. Foods that contain gluten and are high in fiber, such as rye bread, are usually not included in this diet. However, some sourdough rye breads are fermented with specific bacteria that break down some of these FOD-MAPs, creating a low FOD-MAP bread. These low FOD-MAP rye sourdough breads may be more easily tolerated by some IBS patients.

Which bread is better for you: rye bread or sourdough bread?

As long as they’re made with whole grains and have limited or no added sugar, both rye bread and sourdough bread are healthy bread options. Sourdough bread may be even healthier than regular bread because the fermentation makes certain vitamins and minerals easier for our bodies to absorb. To combine the benefits of rye bread and sourdough bread, choose a rye sourdough bread!

Looking for healthy sourdough bread? Try Wildgrain

Interested in trying healthy breads made with wheat flours and no added sugar? Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our more popular breads include Sourdough Rye Bread, Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf and Sourdough 7-Grain Loaf. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking methods.

 

About the Author

Rikki Hoffman, RDN, CDN has been a registered dietitian for ten years, working primarily with patients who have kidney disease. She also has a private practice which focuses on helping clients achieve lifestyle and weight loss goals. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Dietetics from Rutgers University and did her Dietetic Internship at Montclair State University.

 

This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.
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