Whole grains like rye flakes have become almost synonymous with “healthy food,” and for good reason. Studies have connected diets rich in whole grain to a reduced risk of diseases like asthma, Crohn’s disease, gout, and ulcerative colitis. Whole grains can also reduce your risk of death from stroke or cancer.
Rye flakes may not be the most famous whole grain, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch. They come from the kernels or “berries” of the rye plant. They’re made like rolled oats — by steaming, rolling, and drying the rye berries.
The final product looks similar to rolled oats as well. They’re easy to cook with and available at health food stores and specialty retailers.
The vitamins, minerals, and fiber in rye flakes can benefit your health in many ways. Rye is rich in potassium, which your body needs to produce the energy that powers your nerves and muscles. Potassium also helps to strengthen bones and prevent kidney stones.
Rye is also a good source of B vitamins, which are important to many body processes. For example:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin) help to keep your energy level up
- Riboflavin keeps your liver and nervous system healthy
- Vitamin B6 supports your immune system
- Folate is important for preventing birth defects
Beyond these, rye flakes provide other health benefits including:
Rye can help your digestive system to function more effectively. As a whole grain product, rye flakes reduce the levels of chemicals called metabolites.
Lower levels of metabolites mean that food moves through the digestive tract more efficiently. This reduces your risk of various digestive disorders, including colorectal cancer.
Because rye flakes are high in soluble fiber, they have a lower glycemic index (GI) than most other popular grains. Choosing rye can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. The soluble fiber in rye may also help to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Rye could also help you to control your weight. In one laboratory study, mice that ate a rye-based diet weighed less and had less body fat than mice that ate a wheat-based diet.
Human studies have shown that rye can help you to feel fuller after a meal. It may also encourage you to eat less at the next meal.
Low GI foods like rye flakes can boost your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which helps your body to clean out the “bad” LDL cholesterol that can clog your arteries and cause heart disease. More studies are needed to confirm the benefits of rye in particular.
Rye flakes also help your body to control blood pressure. Too much sodium can cause strain on the blood vessel walls, but the potassium in rye flakes can help to get rid of excess sodium in the blood. This can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Rye flakes are rich in phytochemicals, which can act as antioxidants in the body and prevent cell damage. This can help to reduce your risk of cancer and other serious health conditions. Rye flakes are also high in many essential vitamins and minerals, including:
Nutrients per Serving
A one-fourth cup serving of rye flakes contains:
Like all whole grains, rye flakes are high in carbohydrates. They’re complex carbohydrates, so they won’t cause the blood sugar spikes you’d get from white bread or pasta, but it’s still important not to overdo your intake. Limit your intake to one ¼ cup serving.
How to Prepare Rye Flakes
You can prepare rye flakes like rolled oats. One option is to cook them into a porridge, boiling them in water until the mixture thickens. You can eat the porridge plain or mix in healthy additions like nuts and berries.
Rye flakes also make healthy and delicious recipe ingredients. Here are a few ways you can use them:
- Mix up some rye-based granola or muesli
- Replace rolled oats with rye flakes in cookies
- Toast rye flakes and sprinkle them over your cereal
- Use them as a binding agent in savory dishes like hamburgers, meatloaf, and stuffing