Is Pumpernickel Whole Grain?

By: Jackie Martin    Last Updated: January 14, 2023       


Is Pumpernickel Whole Grain

Pumpernickel is a rye bread variety that was first made in Germany during the mid-1400s. The term pumpernickel means ‘difficult to digest’, as the bread is very thick and dense. 

Traditionally speaking, the ingredients used to make pumpernickel are known for their deep hue, sweet notes, and impressive nutritional profile.

While the nutritional value of bread depends on how its made, you may wonder if pumpernickel bread is as nutritious as they say.

Whole grain foods, for instance, are full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins that support our well-being. So, is pumpernickel bread whole grain?

We’ll cover the answer in this post, going over the ingredients used to make pumpernickel, its health benefits, and potential adverse effects related to its consumption.

Pumpernickel Bread: The Basics

Pumpernickel bread is traditionally created with a mix of dense rye flour, rye grains, and whole-wheat flour. 

The baking methods involve low heat and a slow cooking period, generally around 24 hours long.

It also requires a gradual fermentation sourdough starter, instead of yeast commonly used in other bread varieties. 

However, this is only the case with German pumpernickel bread. American pumpernickel bread may involve flavoring additives, instant yeast, and other additional ingredients.

This type of pumpernickel bread is also baked quickly at a higher heat. 

Pumpernickel Bread Ingredients

Classic pumpernickel bread is practically rye bread, so its primary ingredients are rough rye flour.

This ingredient gives the bread its strong brown color, intense flavor, and dense consistency. 

Other than pumpernickel flour, the bread’s other ingredients are:

  • Complete rye berries
  • Wheat flour
  • Acidic sourdough starter
  • Cracked rye kernels
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds – dry roasted
  • Salt

The acidic sourdough starter also gives the bread a lightly tart flavor, which sets the loaves apart from other bread.

The starter also has some health benefits, as it’s a good source of antioxidants.

Is Pumpernickel Whole Grain?

Whole-grain bread consists of completely intact grains. The term ‘whole’ means that the germ, endosperm, and bran of the grains remain unbroken. 

Real pumpernickel is a good example of whole-grain bread. The recipe is made with whole grains that fill the bread with fiber. 

Whole wheat bread is the most popular whole-grain bread, but the category can include different whole grains, like whole-grain oats, whole wheat, brown rice, and whole barley. 

Whole grain bread is some of the most nutritious bread you’ll find on sale. These all have different nutritional profiles based on the blend of grains used to make them. 

As pumpernickel is a whole grain food, it’s full of important nutrients that support well-being. Pumpernickel bread contains lots of significant B vitamins, like riboflavin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. 

These B vitamins are necessary to support a healthy body, as they affect our energy levels, cell metabolism, and brain function.

They’re also important for maintaining proper digestion, nerve function, and heart health.

Mineral-wise, pumpernickel bread contains manganese and selenium, two substances that can fight cell-damaging free radicals.

The bread is also high in copper, zinc, and phosphorus, which are needed to maintain strong skeleton bones. 

Pumpernickel Benefits

Pumpernickel Benefits

Whole-grain foods can have some health benefits. Here are some of pumpernickel’s possible health benefits:

Improves Immunity

Pumpernickel contains manganese and selenium. Manganese can help the body maintain a proper immune system, while selenium defends the cells against infection.

These important nutrients may help your body fight infections and disease. 

Research suggests that as rye is higher in bioactive compounds and fiber, wholegrain rye bread could defend against breast cancer. 

Aids Constipation

Prioritizing high-fiber foods can encourage better digestion. This may be down to the fiber, as well as the various nutrients that are found within whole grain foods. 

A study found that rye bread can improve mild constipation symptoms compared to white bread and popular laxatives, all without related gastrointestinal side effects. 

Supports Weight Loss

Whole grain bread, like pumpernickel, is better for your well-being compared to refined grain bread. 

For instance, a typical slice of white bread contains 75 calories, 1.6 grams of sugar, and just 0.76 grams of fiber (see also ‘How Many Grams Of Whole Grains Per Day?‘).

Pumpernickel bread has 80 calories, but just 0.2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fiber. Eating more fiber can help improve satiety after you eat.

Research shows that a calorie-restricted diet that’s high in fiber leads to weight loss success. 

Aids Diabetes Management

Rye grains, like pumpernickel, have been looked into for their glycemic effects on diabetes patients.  

A study found that pumpernickel generated less of an insulin response and led to considerably lower glucose compared to white bread.

Pumpernickel Disadvantages

Even though pumpernickel may have a lot of health advantages, it comes with some drawbacks you should consider. 

Potential Allergies

People with wheat allergies should take care when eating pumpernickel. 

Rye is the primary flour found within the bread. Even though rye flour doesn’t contain wheat, it does contain gluten.

Individuals with wheat allergies often have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. 

A lot of bakeries that produce pumpernickel produce bread that does contain wheat, so there is a chance of cross-contamination. 

Possible Side Effects

The rye used to make pumpernickel contains gluten, so individuals with celiac disease shouldn’t eat it. 

Gluten is also linked to digestive issues, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and gas. Some people have gluten sensitivities without celiac disease.

If this is the case, you should avoid eating rye bread varieties, like pumpernickel. 

Best Time To Enjoy Pumpernickel

You can find pumpernickel bread in most grocery stores throughout the year, but these loaves are most likely the commercial form of the bread.

These may be made with non-traditional ingredients and have additives added to the recipe. 

It’s best to go to an authentic German bakery for real, traditional pumpernickel bread. 

Final Thoughts

Pumpernickel is a whole-grain bread that’s full of important nutrients! The bread’s primary ingredient is rye flour, which gives it a dense consistency and deep, intense color. 

Pumpernickel may have lots of health benefits, like supporting digestion, immunity, and weight loss. 

However, people with wheat allergies, gluten sensitivities, and celiac disease should avoid eating pumpernickel.

Rye flour does contain gluten, and even though it’s not a wheat product, there’s always a risk of cross-contamination within a bakery. 

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