Rye bread might not always be your first choice when making a sandwich, but you may want to reconsider the humble carb. Rye bread has a low glycemic index, which helps it balance blood sugar — it's also known to be pretty darn good for your gut.
An August 2019 study published in the journal Microbiome found that we have at least two types of bacteria to thank for the health benefits of rye. First off, the rye sourdough used when baking the bread is super rich in lactic acid bacteria. Along with fermenting the dough, this bacteria also produces acids that are known to have a good impact on insulin metabolism.
Turns out, the bacteria in your gut produce compounds that are partially similar to compounds produced by sourdough. Additionally, gut bacteria produce derivatives of trimethylglycine, also contained in rye. At least one of those derivatives has been shown to reduce the need for oxygen in heart muscle cells, which can help protect your heart from a risk of a low blood supply and even enhance the heart's overall performance. This might also explain why rye can help you have better blood sugar levels and a lower risk of heart disease.
"The major role played by gut microbes in human health has become more and more evident over the past decades, and this is why gut microbes should be taken very good care of," said researcher Ville Koistinen in a press release. "It's a good idea to avoid unnecessary antibiotics and feed gut microbes with optimal food — such as rye."
It remains unknown why rye bread makes your blood sugar levels fall so much faster than other types of healthy bread. But we do know this phenomena leads to better health overall. Did we mention rye bread is also chock-full of fiber, which can aid with weight loss and help you feel so much fuller than other carbs? No wonder why it's sometimes called a "supergrain."
Rye bread is quite popular in other countries, especially Finland. European rye can be more dense and sour, while the American options are lighter and less intense. You can usually find both in grocery stores and farmer's markets all over the U.S., and can even buy some brands of rye bread online, such as Mestemacher Bread Whole Rye ($25.99, Amazon) and Bread Alone, Organic Sour Rye ($5.79, Amazon). It's certainly worth a try if you haven't given it a chance already. Could this be the forgotten superfood that's been under our nose this whole time?
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