Flour for Diabetics – A Diabetes-friendly Guide

Can people with diabetes eat rye bread? The answer is a resounding yes! Rye bread is a nutritious and delicious option for those living with diabetes. It is high in fiber and low in sugar, making it a perfect choice for those looking for healthy alternatives to white bread. Read on to find out Rye Bread Good for Diabetics.

What is rye?

Rye is a cereal grain that is closely related to wheat and barley. It is a member of the grass family, and its scientific name is Secale cereale. Rye has been cultivated since ancient times and was an important crop in Europe during the Middle Ages.

What is rye?

What is rye bread and what are the benefits for diabetics?

Rye bread is made from rye grain, which is a whole-grain cereal crop. It contains more fiber than white bread, as well as essential minerals and vitamins such as manganese, selenium and zinc.

Rye also has a lower glycemic index (GI) than white bread, meaning that it does not cause blood sugar spikes. This makes it an ideal choice for those with diabetes. Additionally, rye bread is a great source of dietary fiber, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels and can help keep you feeling full longer.

In addition to its health benefits, rye bread also has a unique flavor that can be enjoyed by both diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Rye bread can be used for sandwiches, toast and even as an ingredient in recipes. It is worth noting, however, that rye bread still contains carbohydrates which should be taken into account when planning meals for those with diabetes.

Overall, rye bread is a great option for people with diabetes looking to enjoy the health benefits of whole grains while still controlling their blood sugar levels. It can be enjoyed in moderation and is a tasty alternative to white bread that diabetics can enjoy without feeling guilty. So, give rye bread a try today! You won’t regret it.

The history of rye bread

The history of rye bread dates back centuries. It was originally developed in the Middle Ages as a way to extend the life of wheat bread, which was expensive and often unavailable during that time period. Today, there are many varieties of rye bread available on the market, such as caraway rye and marbled rye.

Rye bread is naturally lower in calories than white bread and is also higher in fiber. This makes it a better choice for those with diabetes, since it will help keep blood sugar levels stable.

How does rye bread affect people with diabetes? Does rye bread increase insulin levels?

Rye bread does not increase insulin levels in people with diabetes. In fact, one study found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate rye bread had lower fasting blood sugar levels than those who ate wheat bread.

Rye bread is a good choice for people with diabetes because it has a lower glycemic index than other types of bread. This means that it does not cause your blood sugar to rise as quickly after eating it. Rye bread is also a good source of fiber, which can help to improve blood sugar control.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether rye bread is a good choice for you.

Read : Healthy Pumpernickel Bread

Types and varieties of rye breads

There are many different types and varieties of rye bread. Some are made with 100% rye flour, while others are made with a mixture of rye and wheat flour. Rye bread can also be made with whole rye grains or rye flakes.

Rye bread is usually denser and darker than wheat bread. It may have a slightly sour taste due to the presence of lactic acid.

When choosing a rye bread, look for one that is made with 100% whole grain rye flour. Avoid rye breads that are made with refined flours or that contain added sugar.

Nutritional value of rye bread

One slice of 100% whole grain rye bread contains:

  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 15 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Saturated fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 120 mg
  • Potassium: 80 mg

Nutritional value of rye bread

The fiber in rye bread can help to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help to improve blood sugar control. Rye bread is also a good source of B vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

Rye bread is a good choice for people with diabetes because it has a lower glycemic index than other types of bread. This means that it does not cause your blood sugar to rise as quickly after eating it. Rye bread is also a good source of fiber, which can help to improve blood sugar control. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether rye bread is a good choice for you.

What are the potential health benefits of eating rye bread?

Eating rye bread may offer a number of health benefits.

Rye bread has a lower glycemic index than other types of bread, which means it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high after eating it. This can be beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes.

The fiber in rye bread can also help to promote feelings of fullness and may aid in weight loss. Additionally, rye bread is a good source of B vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

How to make rye bread?

Making rye bread is much easier than it may seem! All you need are a few simple ingredients and some time to let the dough rise. The basic recipe for rye bread includes:

How to make rye bread?

-1 package of active dry yeast

-2 cups of warm water

-3 tablespoons of honey or sugar

-4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

-1/2 cup of rye flour

-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

-1 teaspoon of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and then stir in the wet ingredients. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes, or until it has a smooth, elastic texture. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for one hour in a warm place.

Once doubled in size, punch down the dough and form into two loaves. Place them on greased baking sheets and let rise again for 45 minutes. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 40 minutes. When done, remove the loaves from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy your homemade rye bread!

Recipes that include rye bread as a main ingredient

Rye bread is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some delicious recipes that include rye bread as the main ingredient:

Recipes that include rye bread as a main ingredient

• Rye French Toast – Start your morning off right with this tasty and healthy breakfast option. All you need is rye bread, eggs, milk, cinnamon, and honey!

• Rye Bread Pizza – Switch up your regular pizza night with this tasty and unique take on the classic dish. Use rye bread as the crust and top it off with all your favorite toppings!

• Rye Sandwich Pockets – Perfect for a light lunch or dinner, these sandwich pockets are easy to make and can be filled with whatever your heart desires.

• Rye Bread Stuffing – For the perfect accompaniment to your holiday dinner, try this delicious and flavorful rye bread stuffing recipe!

As you can see, rye bread is a great option for those with diabetes who are looking for healthy alternatives to white bread. Not only is it full of nutrients and fiber, but it can also be used to make some delicious meals that the whole family will enjoy. So, give rye bread a try today and start enjoying all its benefits!

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether rye bread is a good choice for you. Thank you for reading at the page earlsgrocery.com.

Rye Bread Good for Diabetics

A slice of wheat bread typically contains around 80-100 calories. This amount can vary depending on the size and type of bread, as well as toppings that may be included. Wheat bread is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly to provide long-lasting energy. It also provides some vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and folate.

Does rye bread affect blood sugar?

There is no one “best” bread for diabetics. However, rye bread is a good choice for people with diabetes because it has a lower glycemic index than other types of bread.

Rye bread does not increase insulin levels. In fact, the fiber in rye bread can help to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help to improve blood sugar control.

Can diabetics eat rye or pumpernickel bread?

Rye and pumpernickel breads are both good choices for people with diabetes. They have a lower glycemic index than other types of bread, which means they do not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high after eating them.

How many slices of bread can a diabetic eat per day?

There is no set number of slices of bread that a person with diabetes can eat per day.

Is sourdough or rye bread better for diabetics?

The main difference between white bread and rye bread is the type of flour that is used. White bread is made with refined flour, while rye bread is made with whole-grain rye flour. Rye bread also has a lower glycemic index than white bread, which means it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high after eating it.

Can diabetics eat bread?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat bread. However, it is important to choose a bread that has a low glycemic index, such as

What foods can diabetics eat freely?

There is no one specific list of “free” foods for people with diabetes. However, in general, foods that have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber are good choices for people with diabetes.


The link between cereal consumption, health and disease has been widely studied and whole grain intake has been consistently associated with lower risk of developing or dying from several major non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and their main risk factors (1–5). On the contrary, refined grains have been associated with increased or no difference in risk of similar conditions (6, 7). Moreover, there is a general consensus that food grain structure is of importance primarily for blood glucose response, but also risk factors such as cholesterol and low-grade inflammation (8–11), where coarser whole grain cereals have been shown to have positive health benefits, while cereals of more refined character have been shown to have a negative impact on health parameters (3, 12, 13). Authorities in several countries recommend consumption of whole grains instead of refined grains (14, 15). However, some studies have indicated that the effect of cereal consumption may vary among different types of cereals, which could be attributed to variations in content of dietary fiber, bioactive components or other features (16–21). For example, some studies have indicated that glycemic control is improved when the whole grain intake is dominated by rye (6, 19, 22). Rye has the highest dietary fiber content among the cereals and it typically reaches 20% of dry matter and beyond, whereas wheat, oat and barley have approximately 10–15%, although the fiber content differ somewhat depending on variety and cultivation (18, 23). Furthermore, the dietary fiber content of commercially available cereal products may also differ widely, depending on formulation and processing (24, 25). Nonetheless, rye has higher total dietary fiber content than other cereals (18). Besides total fiber content, the composition of the dietary fiber also varies among the cereal types. Oat and barley are dominated by soluble beta-glucan, whereas the main fiber type in rye and wheat is arabinoxylan (18). Due to the overall higher content of dietary fiber, rye has approximately 50% more arabinoxylan than wheat and a larger proportion of the arabinoxylans in rye are soluble (18, 26). Soluble arabinoxylans in rye increase viscosity and are less sensitive to degradation compared with beta-glucans and may therefore exert beneficial effects on glycemic profiles and cholesterol when consumed in a wide range of products (27–29). Although observational studies have linked insoluble fiber and main sources thereof such as whole grain wheat products with reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes and improved glycemic control, it is well established from short-term intervention studies that soluble fiber have beneficial effects on glycemic control whereas the effects on glycemia attributed to insoluble fiber are more uncertain (30, 31). An acute meal study involving 19 women showed that a meal rich in soluble fiber reduced postprandial insulin compared to a meal containing a matched amount of insoluble fiber, however, more studies directly comparing soluble and insoluble fiber in dietary intervention settings would be needed to draw strong conclusions (32).

The purpose of this review was to gather studies that have investigated the acute effect of rye products on postprandial insulin and glucose and evaluate the occurrence of the rye factor phenomenon. Furthermore, we aimed to evaluate characteristics of investigated products to identify features that could help us to improve the understanding of the mechanisms behind the rye factor phenomenon. Lastly, we intended to evaluate the effect of habitual consumption of rye products on postprandial glucose and insulin response.

Results and Discussion

From the 24 studies included in Supplementary Table 1, 72 pairwise comparisons could be extracted, and a descriptive summary of the pairs is presented in Table 1 and Figure 1. Almost all the control products were wheat based, while a few studies included barley and oat products. Most of the tested products were soft breads and the remaining could be categorized as crisp bread, cold cereal (defined as breakfast type cereals, typically eaten cold with milk, or yogurt) and porridge. The majority of the pairwise comparisons were made between the same kind of product (e.g., soft rye bread vs. soft wheat bread). However, when evaluating the processing of the cereals used in the products, most of the control products were refined endosperm-based products, whereas most of the rye products were coarser products made with whole grain rye flour or rye kernels. A large proportion of the control breads were yeast fermented breads, whereas the rye breads were a mixture of yeast and sourdough fermented breads, as well as a few unfermented breads. It should be noted that not all studies clearly report the method of fermentation of the investigated products (Table 1). Only 21 out of 72 pairwise comparisons were done between products of similar processing (e.g., endosperm wheat flour product vs. endosperm rye flour product), whereas most studies compared effects between endosperm wheat products and whole grain rye products. While rye generally has a higher dietary fiber content than other cereals (18, 43), the difference in processing has also contributed to the difference in fiber content between the rye products and the control products in the pairwise comparisons (Figure 1). The difference in available carbohydrate was low since most of the studies were standardized with regard to available carbohydrate content of the test meals. The serving size of rye products was often higher than the control product to obtain the same amount of available carbohydrate. The rye content of the rye products tested in the different studies are generally high (50–100% of cereal ingredients), except for the four bran based products, which were wheat based breads with 35% added rye bran (39, 44). Due to the higher fiber content of bran, compared to other cereal fractions, these bran-based rye breads have fiber content in similar range as the other rye-based breads (12–19 g/portion), despite the lower rye content.

Table 1. Pairs of rye-control comparisons extracted from the studies presented in Supplementary Table 1, grouped according to effect on postprandial insulin and glucose.

Figure 1. Total dietary fiber and available dietary fiber content of rye products and control products, categorized according to effect on postprandial glucose and insulin (Table 1). Data is mean and standard deviation.

The Effect of Dietary Fiber on Postprandial Responses

Although a relatively wide range of products were found in each category, we found some indications of systematic differences in the product processing and fermentation across the different categories (Table 1). The rye factor phenomenon effect was seemingly more consistent when the rye food type or processing was compared with a similar control food or processing, whereas the other effect categories had more comparisons of products of different type or processing. This could indicate that using products that differ in several factors, e.g., different processing in addition to different cereal sources, might make it difficult to disentangle the effect of rye per se, due to confounding by differences in structural properties or through difference in volume (45). Additionally, there seems to be a difference between the categories when looking at the fermentation method used to produce the tested breads. The rye factor phenomenon is most evident among comparisons between a sourdough fermented rye bread and a yeast fermented control product indicating that sourdough fermentation might be partly responsible for the rye factor. However, some studies using unfermented rye crisp breads (46, 47), as well studies investigating rye based porridges (39, 42), also found evidence of the rye factor phenomenon indicating that the rye factor is not restricted to sourdough fermented rye breads. Most of the pairs falling into categories of reduction in both insulin and glucose, as well as no effect on either, consist of a yeast fermented rye bread compared to a yeast fermented control bread.

Second Meal Effects

Table 2. Second meal effect studies.

Effects of Habitual Rye Consumption on Glycemic Control

Table 3. Studies investigating the effect on habitual consumption of rye products on glycemic control.

In summary, there is no consistent evidence supporting a positive effect of habitual rye consumption on postprandial glycemic control, despite the predominantly positive effect found in acute meal studies. However, it should be mentioned that most of these studies evaluate the effect of the intervention on oral glucose tolerance, which may not be directly comparable to a meal tolerance test such as the ones typically used in the acute meal studies. Furthermore, the relatively large variations in study duration, outcomes assessed, and intervention products used makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions and further studies are needed to understand the potential link between the positive effects from acute meal studies and the long-term associations with improvements in glycemic control and reduced risk of type-2 diabetes.

Potential Mechanisms Behind the Rye Factor

Furthermore, high fiber cereals have been shown to increase the fecal energy excretion, through binding of nutrients from the food and reduce the absorption (58). Therefore, it could be theorized, that even though the studies match the rye and control products in terms of available carbohydrate, a larger amount of the available carbohydrate will be bound to the dietary fiber matrix in the fiber-rich rye products, compared to the control products which typically has a lower fiber content, and therefore the amount of carbohydrate available for absorption in the intestine will in reality be lower for rye foods, despite similar content. This could then lead to a slower and/or reduced intestinal absorption of glucose and subsequent reduced insulin secretion.

Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) have been shown to induce insulin secretion (62) and it has been speculated whether the amino acid composition and content of cereal products may influence the postprandial response (46). Generally, the content of amino acids, including BCAA, seem to be higher in the bran faction of the cereal, compared to whole grain flour and sifted flour (63), which could potentially contribute to the lack of a positive effect of bran based rye breads on postprandial insulin and glucose. However, the amino acid content is also highly affected by baking and fermentation, as well as cultivation, why more research is needed in order to understand the potential effect of cereal amino acids on postprandial response (63).

Rye contains several different bioactive compounds that have been suggested to have positive effects on various health outcomes, such as glycemic control and insulin sensitivity (33). Lignans and alkylresorcinols have been shown in in vitro and animal studies to improve insulin sensitivity (64, 65). An association between alkylresorcinols and insulin sensitivity has been confirmed in human studies (29, 66), but since alkylresorcinols may just be a marker of whole grain rye and wheat intake, it is difficult to distinguish between the effect of the alkylresorcinols and other components of whole grain products that could influence insulin sensitivity (67). Human studies on lignans and health has primarily been focused on cancer, due to the potential mild estrogenic effects of certain lignan metabolites (68). The few studies that have investigated the potential link between lignan intake and outcomes related to glycemic control and type-2 diabetes have found conflicting results (69) and as with alkylresorcinols it is difficult to distinguish between the effect of lignans and the effect of other potentially beneficial components of rye. Furthermore, it should be noted that lignans are found in relatively high amounts in other foods, such as flaxseeds, and the associations found in observational studies is not necessarily reflecting an association with lignans from rye (70).

If the mechanism behind the rye factor is mainly related to fiber content and structure, a rye factor phenomenon could likely be obtained with other cereals than rye. Eelderink et al. used a similar methodology as Östman et al. to examine the postprandial response to two wheat based breads with similar ingredients, but different structure (a standard sliced loaf bread and a flat bread; 57, 71). While glucose response was similar between the breads, insulin response was lower for the flat bread, compared to the loaf bread, and glucose kinetics revealed a slower uptake of glucose in the intestine from the flat bread, which likely explains the lower insulin response. In a similar study, comparing two different loaf type wheat breads with different structure and fiber content, Eelderink et al. found similar, but less pronounced results (72). Goletzke et al. found that a whole meal spelt bread had similar effects as two rye based breads, compared to a low fiber soft wheat pretzel (38). Liljeberg et al. found lowering of insulin, without affecting glucose, when comparing barley kernel based breads and a rye kernel based bread with a wheat kernel based bread (73). Together, these findings suggest that the rye factor phenomenon is not restricted to rye-based products. However, rye and barley have higher contents of soluble fiber than wheat, which will likely affect the structure and digestion of the cereal products and may explain the similarities in the physiological response. Bran has more insoluble fiber, and less soluble fiber, than endosperm and whole grain flour which may explain the lack of a beneficial effect of bran-based rye breads on postprandial insulin and glucose (39, 44).

In summary, limited evidence for the underlying mechanism behind the rye factor exist, but it appears that structural properties, such as particle size, viscosity, and fiber matrix, are likely the major determinants for the postprandial response to consumption of cereal products.

Limitations and Future Perspectives

Amongst the studies included in this review there is a large variation in the methodology used to evaluate the postprandial response to the tested products. Some studies report the results of repeated measures models, some report AUC or iAUC over time periods varying between 2 and 5 h and some used other measures, such as peak values, glycemic index and insulin disposition index. This makes it impossible to directly compare the effect size between different studies and give an overall estimate on the magnitude of the effect across studies. While postprandial glucose response has been shown to correlate with glycated hemoglobin, which is a stronger predictor of diabetes risk, little is known about the long term implications of postprandial insulin response (74). Some studies have indicated an association between postprandial insulin response and risk of metabolic disease (75, 76), however, more evidence is needed in order to evaluate the implications of reductions in postprandial insulin response on long term disease risk.

Our understanding of the mechanism of action behind the effect of different cereals on postprandial glucose and insulin response remains suggestive, as only few studies include more mechanistic outcome measures such as measures of glucose kinetics using tracer techniques. Studies by Eelderink et al. and Östman et al. shed some light on a potential underlying mechanism by incorporating tracer-techniques, but more studies are needed to draw general conclusions (57, 71, 72).

The degree of characterization and the reporting of compositional information on products vary between studies and makes it hard to make comparisons across studies. Generally, more detailed characterization beyond nutritional values, is needed to further elucidate the effects of rye products on glycemic control as well as the underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, many studies compare rye products with a relatively high fiber content to wheat-based products with a relatively low fiber content, which makes it difficult to distinguish between the effect of fiber content and other factors, such as cereal source. However, it is important to keep in mind that the different cereals have a different fiber content and composition, even in their native form (18), why there will be differences in the fiber content, even when comparing a 100% whole grain rye product to a 100% whole grain wheat product – which underlines that fiber content and composition may explain part of the rye factor phenomenon. Moreover, one should consider the effect of different processing techniques, e.g., a milled whole grain rye flour compared with rolled whole grain rye flakes which may have very similar fiber content and composition, but at the same time express vastly different structural properties, which may in turn affect the physiological response (77).

Method of fermentation has been shown to influence the structure of bread, which could in turn influence the physiological response to consumption of the breads. However, this is often clouded by the fact that sourdough fermented rye breads are often compared to yeast fermented wheat breads, making it difficult to disentangle the effect of cereal source from the method of fermentation. From an applicational point of view it is sensible to test a yeast fermented wheat bread with a sourdough fermented rye bread, as this is the typical types of bread available on the market and consumed by consumers. However, from a mechanistic point of view studies investigating different combinations of cereal sources and methods of fermentation are needed in order to understand the underlying mechanisms and determinates for postprandial response.


In conclusion, rye-based products have consistently been shown to lower insulin response in the postprandial phase, either alone or in combination with reductions in glucose response, compared to wheat-based products. Recent mechanistic studies using tracer-techniques have suggested that this may be attributed to slower glucose uptake in the intestine, which in turn may be linked to structural properties of rye products, rather than fiber content per se. However, the rye factor phenomenon might not be a unique property of rye-based cereal products, as similar effects have been observed from other types of cereal products with similar fiber content and structural properties. Some studies indicate a role of sourdough fermentation, potentially through its effect on structure, but due to lack of studies properly designed to address this research question, effects of fermentation from other factors cannot be disentangled. There is a need for carefully controlled studies investigating the postprandial effects of products based on different cereals, as well as the structural properties standardized across cereal species to understand the link between structural properties and postprandial response.

Author Contributions

RL conceived the idea for the review. KI and KJ conducted the literature search and extracted the data. KI analyzed the data and wrote the article under supervision of RL. All authors read the manuscript, provided valuable inputs, and approved the final manuscript.


The current study was funded by Barilla. The funder had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, manuscript preparations and revision, or decision to publish.

Conflict of Interest

RL is the founder of the Nordic Rye Forum, which is a research and dissemination platform for research related to rye and health that includes academic institutions as well as institutes and food industry with interest in rye across the Nordic region. The forum and its activities are funded by the industrial partners. RL is the PI of several projects funded by several cereal industrial companies. Such funding is used to carry out scientific studies. RL receives no salary, honorary, or by any other means have any personal economic benefits from industrial collaborations.

The remaining authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.868938/full#supplementary-material

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