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Rye bread versus # 039, just # 039; bread

  1. Rye bread is perhaps the most trusted of all the 'alternative' types of bread we know in the Netherlands. By the end of the 19th century, for a large part of the Dutch it was even the staple food next to potatoes, mainly because it was cheaper. But do we actually know what rye bread is?

  1. Oddly enough, what we usually call 'rye bread' in the Netherlands (and sometimes also call 'Frisian rye bread') is actually not bread. It is 'Pumpernickel', a specialty originally from Westphalia which is prepared from the broken grain ('scrap') of rye. This preparation takes place at a low temperature and a long baking time, so that no crust is formed. Actually, this variant is not so much fried as cooked.

Regional variants

  1. In addition, other regional variants are available according to recipes from the southern parts of our country. Of these, 'Brabantine rye bread' is the best known. This is already a bit more like the bread from the baker and is also baked much hotter and shorter: one and a half to two hours, against fifteen or twenty for Frisian rye bread. In practice, the industrial variants available from us, regardless of the designation of origin, always include wheat. Rye can also be used to bake bread, which in neighboring countries is called 'rye bread' (rye bread, Roggenbrot, pain de seigle), but to avoid confusion it is often referred to as 'bread from rye flour'. This is bread that is baked in the classic way and also shows more similarities with the usual wheat bread. It is usually only available from specialist bakers; they also generally use more or less wheat flour in their dough.

Health benefits?

  1. On paper, rye has a number of health benefits over wheat. For example, a study published in 2010 in the journal Nutrition found that mice fed rye bread showed a lower weight, a lower cholesterol level and slightly less insulin resistance. Rye also has benefits for blood sugar over wheat and it is more satiating, so that you tend to eat less of it. Furthermore, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are indications that rye causes fewer inflammatory responses in individuals with the metabolic syndrome. However, the above data has all been obtained with bread made from rye flour, which is not the same as what we in the Netherlands call 'rye bread'. For example, the American rye bread that has been tested in terms of nutritional value is almost equal to (American) whole grain wheat bread: the same number of kilocalories (259 per 100 grams), slightly more carbohydrates, slightly less fat, slightly less protein. Dutch dark rye bread contains only about 189 kilocalories per 100 grams, against 211 for Dutch wholemeal wheat bread.

Not unambiguous

  1. There is therefore no clear answer to the question about the health benefits of rye bread over (whole grain) wheat bread in the Netherlands. The clinical test results we have are all based on rye bread that is very different from what we eat. Moreover, there are major differences between the rye bread types available in the Netherlands. One thing is certain: contrary to what the Nutrition Center reports on its site in so many words, rye bread - or at least the product that we call that in the Netherlands and that is in fact pumpernickel - does not seem a good choice for people. with a wheat allergy. After all, we have not found any rye bread in any supermarket that, according to the ingredient declaration, does not contain wheat. So be careful!


  1. Again, rye bread is no more a miracle product than any other type of bread. Moreover, the health benefits of 'our' rye bread have not or hardly been researched. So see rye bread mainly as an opportunity to vary in your diet. Fortunately, one thing is clear: eating as varied as possible is always a good idea for those who want to stay healthy.

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