Rye (Secale cereale  L.): Health benefits and Side effects

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati
Rye ( Secale cereale L.) is an important cereal used as a whole grain or used for making rye bread. However, compared to wheat, rye production is only 3%. It is originated in southwestern Asia around 6500 BC. Nowadays rye cultivation spread in the Balkan, Peninsula and over Europe grew in Poland, Germany, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine (1).

What is Rye grain and Rye berries?

Rye grain is also known as rye berry and traditionally rye bread is made entirely from rye flour or rye wholemeal, but nowadays it is made from a grist of wheat and rye flours, because of the need for wheat gluten to compensate for the weakness of rye gluten.

Nutritional value of Rye

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), rye offers a good source of dietary fiber, phenolic compounds, vitamins, trace elements, and minerals are as follows (2).

Compound Amounts per 100 g
Water 10.60 g
Energy 338 kcal
Protein 10.34 g
Total lipid ( Fat)s 1.63 g
Ash 1.57 g
Carbohydrates 75.86 g
Dietary Fiber 15.1 g
Sugar 0.98 g
Calcium 24 mg
Iron 2.63 mg
Magnesium 110 mg
Phosphorous 332 mg
Potassium 510 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Zinc 2.65 mg
Folates 38 µg
Niacin 4.27 mg
Riboflavin 0.21 mg
Thiamin 0.32 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.29 mg
Vitamin A 11 IU
Vitamin E 0.85 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg
Vitamin K 5.9 µg

Health benefits of Rye

1. Rye suppress appetite

Crispbread of Rye helps in the suppression of hunger and creates fullness thus reducing the desire to eat. This is because it contains dietary fiber such as arabinoxylan, fructan, β-glucan and cellulose (3). These fiber increase extension of the stomach and delayed gastric emptying (for viscous fiber) which in turn may affect nutrient absorption kinetics and increase satiety (4).

2. Tetracycline in Rye

A research study suggested that rye contain antibiotic known as tetracycline which posses no adverse effect on human consumption and may select for antibiotic resistance in bacteria (5).

3. Rye helps in lowering the Cholesterol

Rye is a rich source of soluble fiber arabinoxylan. Thus daily consumption of rye bread more than 200 g increase the concentration of bile acids in the bile. Therefore helps in lowering the serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations than fiber from vegetables and fruit (6).

4. Rye helps in improving bowel health

Generally, this is said that Butyrate a chemical compound in colon improve bowel health and reduce the risk of cancer. Arabinoxylan and cellulose present in rye act as important substrates for butyrate generation. Thus, the intake of high fiber rye may improve bowel and metabolic health by increasing the weight of fecal output (7).

5. Rye protects from constipation

Arabinoxylan, which is abundant in rye act as a laxative and prevents constipation by normalizing colonic microflora, reduce fecal pH and bacterial β-glucuronidase activity and by increasing fecal Short Chain Fatty Acid content without any gastrointestinal adverse effect (8).

6. Rye can prevent cancer

Alkylresorcinols (phenolic lipids) and dietary fiber found in the rye posses cytotoxic effect on cancer cells colorectal cancer, proximal colon cancer, or rectal cancer (9). Therefore, rye can be used as adjuvant therapy for inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis (10).

7. Rye helps in the treatment of Sexual dysfunction

Cernilton, made from the rye-grass pollen is one of the registered pharmaceutical product mainly used in Western Europe, Japan, Korea, and Argentina for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Hence, Cernilton act as phytotherapeutic agents which improve improves overall urological symptoms, including nocturia and treat sexual dysfunction (11).

8. Help postmenopausal women

Women during menopause face several difficulties like decrease insulin sensitivity and secretion, hepatic insulin extraction. Therefore, rye is excellent source of fiber which enhances insulin secretion, possibly indicating improvement of β-cell function further protect from hyperinsulinemia (12).

9. Rye protect against type 2 Diabetes

Amylose layer surrounding the starch granules of rye along with benzoxazinoids and certain phenolic acids is beneficial for lowering postprandial insulin response. Therefore, protects against the risk of type 2 diabetes (13).

10. Rye is good for your heart

Rye bran contains an abundant amount of alkylresorcinols, phenols, and lignans which act as antioxidants and reduced overall risk for myocardial infarction and stroke (14).

11. Rye benefits against gallstone

Presence of water-soluble, highly viscous fiber in rye bran increase the total concentration of bile acids in the bile and to prevent gallstone formation (15).

Interesting Facts: the Main compound found in the rye is Arabinoxylan. Benefits of Arabinoxylan in rye prevents constipation, healthy bowel movement lowers cholesterol, reduce appetite.

Side effects of Rye

1. Rye flour causes Asthma

Research study supported that inhalation of rye flour developed occupational asthma in bakers. Therefore, bakers who are suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma should avoid rye flour (16).

2. Rye contains anti-nutrients

Phytic acid an anti-nutrient may be harmful in high amounts, and interfere in many physiological pathways. However, this problem can be overcome by fermentation, soaking, germination and enzymatic treatment of grains with phytase enzyme (17).

3. Rye may induce Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Presence of high fructan content in rye bread may induce gastrointestinal symptoms in some individuals thus should not consume rye products for precaution (18).

4. Rye side effect due to Gluten

Coeliac disease is the chronic inflammation of small intestines due to an immune response to gluten. Rye contains gluten thus the person who is sensitive to gluten should not eat rye or eat gluten-free rye bread (19).


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780081007198000073
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/20062
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2744918/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006307/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29484666/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10720164
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12663299
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20089780
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10958815
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-017-2890-6
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425142/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12540398
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380355/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12749346
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1319177
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18302143
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859228/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406911/


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