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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What’s with Rye?

A common bread MYTH is that rye bread is 100% whole grain and is high in fiber. Dark rye bread especially looks super healthy and full of fiber – it couldn’t be more dark brown than it is!

Rye bread and I go way back…Twenty-five years ago when I was living in Washington D.C. for a summer internship, I think I lived on turkey and provolone sandwiches on dark rye (with just a smidgen of mustard) from the deli next to where I was working. There are certain sandwiches that just beg for rye bread. Some people like tuna salad on rye, for example. But is it a whole grain?

What’s the real story on rye?

The first ingredient listed on the label of most types and brands of rye bread, from Russian Rye or Jewish Rye to Dark Rye or Extra Sour Rye, is none other than…unbleached enriched flour. The second ingredient is usually water with the third ingredient being rye flour. That explains why most rye breads contribute only 1 gram of fiber per slice (one dark rye in my supermarket even contributes less than 1 gram per slice). So, the truth is that most rye breads aren’t usually 100% whole grain (although there might be some enlightened brands out there I haven’t seen yet) and I wouldn’t call them high in fiber either with only 1 gram a slice.

My guess is rye breads aren’t as high in fiber as 100% whole wheat breads because in commercial rye bread sold in America, white flour is typically combined with rye flour to make the bread. Bread companies probably do this due to rye flour not having great gluten qualities; it would make a very heavy bread unless blended with a higher gluten grain like wheat flour. Rye flour on its own though IS high in fiber (3.6 grams fiber per 50 calories or 2 tablespoons of flour).

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Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 9:30 am

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