Rye is most at home in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe where it’s rich and hearty taste is most appreciated. But it can be found worldwide in bread and grain mixes and even in whisky and rye beer.
When ground to a flour it can be made into pumpernickel,sourdough and crisp breads. Bread making is facilitated by its gluten content which is high enough to make baking easy but is lower than in wheat flour.
Rye may be a good alternative to wheat bread and wheat pasta for those sensitive to wheat, although those with full blown coeliac disease will still need to avoid it.
We cover plenty of gluten free grains in this series so going gluten free is relatively easy, especially when home baking.
Rye breads and Rye Porridge has been found in research to satisfy longer than wheat and to improve insulin sensitivity. In addition Rye seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect much needed in those with metabolic syndrome and for diabetes.
In addition at the genetic level a study showed 71 genes concerned with insulin down regulated – which means that rye is acting on the body directly at the level of your genes to help it stay lean and healthy.
The exact quote from the research paper is here but the gist is above so you can skip it if you like!
We detected 71 down-regulated genes in the rye-pasta group, including genes linked to insulin signalling and apoptosis. In contrast, the 12-week oat-wheat-potato diet up-regulated 62 genes related to stress, cytokine-chemokine-mediated immunity, and the interleukin pathway. The insulinogenic index improved after the rye-pasta diet (P=0.004) but not after the oat-wheat-potato diet. Body weight was unchanged in both groups.”
A Few Words about Gluten.
Gluten is a type of protein found in some grains. It gives a sticky texture to dough and makes it easy to manipulate and knead. Like other proteins it is very nourishing but can irritate the digestion of some sensitive people.
Gluten is actually a mix of proteins – gliadins and glutenins. It seems to be the gliadins that cause intestinal damage in some people leading to the well known condition of leaky gut.
Some of these individuals may have to avoid all grains but most will have specific reactions to wheat only or rye only.
This is not concern only the small number of people suffering full blown coeliac disease but also those with allergies to any one of the gluten proteins or even a sensitivity. This latter should be an indicator for a “leaky gut” laboratory test and treatment to heal the gut.
Even reading labels may not be completely helpful because a food may be labelled “Gluten free” and still have up to 20 parts per million gluten. This may be cross contamination from other gluten containing grains in the mill or processing or packaging plant.
For those of us not affected by gluten proteins they are not just a great source of protein but come along with some superb plant chemicals – one of which is the pretty well known lignans and one which is almost unpronounceable called “alkylresorcinol”.
Found in many healthy foods such as whole grains, nuts and seeds and especially in flax seeds lignans role in health protection is still being researched but a short quote will give you an idea of its potential,
“Experimental evidence in animals has shown clear anticarcinogenic effects of flaxseed or pure lignans in many types of cancer. http://is.gd/ujNZEK
Now for alkylresorcinol 🙂
This is a plant chemical I had not heard of so I may well be writing about this some more in future posts as I dig deeper.
For now – we know that it has ”antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antitumour and antioxidative effects. ” http://is.gd/HQ6q7v
Altogether we have in Rye a tasty and nutritious food with a flavour described by its fans as a “sweet dark chocolate coffee flavour, and earthy aroma. ” and that makes my mouth water just typing it.
The protein content, the fact that it has a high content of soluble fibre and the lignans and other healthy plant chemicals add up to one of the World’s most nutritious staple foods.
It is not just a healthy alternative to wheat but has its own unique flavour and characteristics.
Try it and see if it deserves a place in your kitchen!