White bread is toast. Yes, after years of being at the top of our affections for rounds of sandwiches, toasted soldiers and bacon butties, sales of the sliced white stuff are down.
Among the reasons cited for the decline are a dwindling number of children taking packed lunches to school, the greater choice of speciality loaves on offer to us and even a conscious effort to eat foods with less sugar and more nutritional benefits in them.
As the white bread market changes, rye bread is one of the products that offers a viable alternative to those looking for a nutritious snack without sacrificing the sandwiches.
Once a niche product confined to specialist health stores, rye bread is having a moment. Rye itself even cropped up in Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella in the form of rye ginger cookies.
Rye bread has its fans in Made in Chelsea’s Millie Mackintosh and TOWIE’s Lucy Mecklenburgh, and features in top restaurants around the world. So what’s the fuss about? We look at five benefits of eating rye bread:
1. It keeps you stabilised
An advocate of eating rye bread, Amber Rose, author of Love, Bake, Nourish, reckons it’s a great option for keeping your body in balance.
“Rye has a much lower glycemic index than ordinary white flour,” she says. “This means it won’t spike your blood sugars.”
2. It’s fibre rich
Rye bread – and, in particular, dark rye - usually has higher fibre content than other breads, which can be useful for those suffering from constipation.
“As far as I’m concerned, the main benefits to eating foods made with wholemeal rye flour lie in the high fibre content of this grain,” explains Rob Hobson, nutritionist and co-author of the Detox Kitchen Bible.
“Fibre in the diet is associated with reducing the risk of heart disease, bowel cancer and diabetes as well as helping with weight loss and maintaining good digestion.”
3. It’s full of goodness
Brands of rye bread may differ in ingredients so check the pack for the full low-down, but on the whole, rye is low in saturated fat and rich in B vitamins, iron - which makes red blood cells - and magnesium, which converts food into energy.
4. Most – but not all - people can eat it
Again, it always pays to check the label on any food you buy, but rye bread can be a good option if you’re catering for people with different dietary requirements.
“It’s much lower in gluten than wheat and other grains so, as a result, can be enjoyed by those that are sensitive to it,” explains Rose. Those with gluten intolerance or coeliac disease should still avoid rye, however.
5. It tastes nice
Although tasting different to white bread (and perhaps not as satisfying to dip into runny eggs), rye bread is great paired with tart beetroots, tangy cheeses and pickles, or used to make Scandinavian-inspired open sandwiches.