Rye Vs Wheat – Health Impact And Nutrition Comparison

By: Jackie Martin    Last Updated: January 24, 2023       

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Rye Vs Wheat - Health Impact And Nutrition Comparison

Rye and wheat are both cereal grains and they belong to the same family. They are both frequently used for food for both humans and animals and can also be used for a variety of other purposes, such as the distillation of alcoholic beverages.

However, despite all of these similarities, they also share several differences. These can be seen in their health impact and nutritional values. Rye is higher in carbohydrates whereas wheat has more protein, fats, and calories.

In this article, we will take a close look at rye and wheat. We will look at their similarities and differences, and how this affects their health impact and nutritional values.

Let’s get started.

What Are Rye And Wheat?

Let’s begin by explaining more about rye and wheat. Both rye and wheat are cereal plants. These are grasses that produce seeds that can be eaten by both humans and animals.

The grains of these plants have several different components that are used for different purposes.

In processed foods, it’s typically just the endosperm that is used but the wheat germ can be used to boost the nutritional content of foods due to the high levels of vitamins and fibers it contains.

Now let’s look at them both in more individual detail.

Rye

Like wheat, rye is also a cereal grain, and the two grains are quite closely related. Rye is a hardy grain that can grow and thrive in colder temperatures.

It is very tolerant and resistant to frost and drought so there are many areas across the world where wheat can’t grow but rye can. Rye is also used as food for humans and animals.

Rye is commonly used to make flour and bread. It is also a common ingredient in some alcohols such as whiskey and vodka.

Wheat

This was one of the very first grains that were cultivated for human use and consumption. It grows in more temperate climates around the world and feeds more people than any other single grain does.

Its primary use is as food for humans, but it has other uses such as animal food and distilling. There are both hard and soft varieties of wheat.

Wheat is commonly used to make flour, bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals. It also features in many processed foods.

Health Impact

Now we’ve learned more about rye and wheat, let’s look at their impact on our health. All cereal grains can be beneficial to your health as long as they are only consumed in moderation.

Cardiovascular Health

Studies have shown that rye is better for cardiovascular health than wheat. It can reduce various different types of cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

Wheat can also be of benefit to your cardiovascular health but not to the degree that rye can.

Diabetes

Both rye and wheat are low in sugar and have low glycemic indices. Of the two, rye has a lower glycemic index.

Adding whole grains to your regular diet may even reduce your risk of developing diabetes. They can also prevent you from gaining weight.

Cancer

Whole grains have been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing several cancers, such as endometrial, gastric, and pancreatic cancers.

As well as these reductions, there are some additional ones that may be directly linked to rye and wheat.

For example, some studies show there may be a link between rye and a reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer. Wheat, on the other hand, can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Gluten

If you are gluten-intolerant, however, you should avoid both rye and wheat. Both of these grains are high in gluten and should not be consumed by anyone with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Nutritional Differences Between Rye And Wheat

Nutritional Differences Between Rye And Wheat

Although both are cereal grains that are closely related and can be used in similar ways, they do have several differences when it comes to their nutritional values.

Calories

As is the case with nearly all types of grains, both rye and wheat are relatively high in calories. Their calorie count is very similar and is almost indistinguishable.

If you compare 100 grams of rye to 100 grams of wheat, you will find that wheat has just one more calorie. 

Proteins And Fats

When it comes to proteins and fats, both rye and wheat have very high levels but one grain does have more than the other. In the case of both proteins and fats, wheat has more than rye.

Wheat is generally higher in all amino acids, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. The single exception to this is lysine, as both rye and wheat contain virtually the same amount.

When it comes to fatty acids, wheat also has higher levels of these than rye does. This is the case for all three forms of fatty acids, which are saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

However, despite the high levels of proteins and fats, both rye and wheat naturally contain zero amounts of cholesterol. 

Carbohydrates

Although both rye and wheat are relatively high in carbohydrates, rye is richer in carbs than wheat.

Despite the high levels of carbohydrates, both rye and wheat are low in sugar. This is because around 90 percent of all the carbohydrates contained in the two grains are in the form of fiber. Both rye and wheat are great sources of fiber and this keeps them low in sugars.

Of the two grains, rye has larger amounts of dietary fiber. The small amount of sugar that is found in the grains is made from fructose, glucose, and sucrose.

Vitamins

When it comes to vitamins, all cereal grains are great sources of B complex vitamins. The exact B complex vitamins that each grain contains can differ and rye and wheat do feature different ones.

Overall, wheat has more B group vitamins than rye does. It is richer in the following B group vitamins;

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B3
  • Folate form of vitamin B9

In comparison, rye is more versatile in vitamins as it includes several vitamins from outside of the B group. In the case of B group vitamins, it is richer than wheat in the following vitamins:

  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6

Outside of B group vitamins, rye also includes;

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin E (1)

Minerals

As was the case with vitamins, both rye and wheat are good sources of various minerals. They do have differences in the minerals they have and the amounts, however.

In general, wheat is richer in most minerals. Here is a list of the minerals that wheat is higher in;

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Rye does have wheat beaten when it comes to two minerals, however. These are;

  • Choline
  • Potassium

Both rye and wheat contain the same levels of sodium. 

Final Thoughts

In this article, we introduced the cereal grains rye and wheat. We took an in-depth look at both grains and compared their health impact and nutritional value.

Although the two grains have many similarities, they also differ in their nutritional information.

We hope that the information in this article has answered all of your questions about the health impact and nutritional values of rye and wheat.

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