Other Names of Rye:

  • Secale cereale L,
  • Cereal rye, common rye,
  • Cultivated annual rye,
  • Cultivated rye,
  • Mountain rye,
  • Winter rye,
  • Summer rye

Useful Parts of the Plant:

  • Whole rye berries
  • Rye grains

Rye is a commonly found cereal grown in southern Europe. Native to Europe, the plant was brought to the American grasslands, and today, the United States is a major cultivator of this crop. It resembles wheat, though is much slender and longer. Rye is commonly available as flakes, flour, or the grain itself. Unlike ordinary refined wheat flour, rye flour is nutrient rich and commonly used in bake houses. Rye used to be the staple diet in the regions south of the Baltic and in Finland. It can grow well in soil that is unsuitable for the cultivation of wheat.

Nutritional Information and Properties

Recently, rye has made its presence known on food shelves, owing to its nutritional value. Rye bread is the most popular form of consumption of this cereal. Only a portion of the cultivated crop finds its way to the dining table. The remaining portion is used as pasture and hay for cattle or even as a cover crop. Rye has a higher percentage of soluble proteins and nutrients than its counterparts, wheat, oat, or barley. Rye is a good storehouse of manganese. It is also rich in selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and proteins. The presence of lignin phytonutrients in rye account for its therapeutic applications, and these estrogen-like chemicals in it act as good antioxidants. Rye is also a good source of vitamin B, niacin, and folic acid. Dark unrefined rye contains most of the bran and magnesium with minerals. Light refined rye has lesser amount of nutrients, but not much is lost as it is difficult to segregate the germ and bran of rye.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

Health benefits and therapeutic uses of rye owe their credit to the high nutrient value of rye:

  • Rye is a rich source of non-cellulose polysaccharides that have high water retention capacity. Hence, rye remains a good choice for weight loss.
  • The high fiber content in rye is also beneficial in preventing the formation of gall stones. This is because of the regularization of bile acids so that stones do not get formed.
  • Rye is believed to be helpful in preventing type-2 diabetes. The magnesium content in the whole rye grains aids in the production of enzymes that ensure healthy control of blood sugar.
  • Fiber in rye binds with toxic material in the colon and eliminates them from the body. Thus, it benefits gastrointestinal health. By attaching itself to bile salts, rye fiber also enhances the breakdown of cholesterol in the body. Thus, rye also improves cardiovascular health.
  • The phytonutrients in rye release a powerful antioxidant effect in our body. Whole rye grains consist of its endosperm, bran, and germ. This, in totality, releases the antioxidants that possess unique cancer-fighting properties. Thus, rye is a good choice to keep the formation of cancerous cells at bay.
  • Plant lignans in rye contain enterolactone that is helpful in protecting against cancers and cardiac ailments.
  • Phytoestrogens are also believed to depict estrogen-like activities and hence, offer protection against breast cancer. Rye is a good source of phytonutrients and is considered beneficial to allay cancers related to hormonal production.
  • It is also believed that whole grain consumed with ample quantities of fish has resulted in decreased instances of asthma in young children.
  • The antioxidants in rye grain, ranging from soluble and insoluble antioxidants to vitamin E, phenolic acid, and phytic acid, together, combat heart ailments, obesity, and diabetes.

Other Uses

Rye is also used to make rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, and vodka. It is also a constituent of animal feed.