Due to winter hardiness, better drought resistance than many other cereals and an ability to grow in less fertile soil, rye became a mainstay crop for early civilisations from Turkey through Europe and up into Russia.
Rye has been discovered in Alpine Bronze Age settlements and Iron Age formations in Denmark as well as being widely cultivated throughout the Roman Empire.
Rye is known to have been a prevalent crop in the Baltic region by the 11th century and spread to the Americas by the settlers during the 16th & 17th Centuries, further enhancing it’s culinary opportunities.
Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, crisp bread, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder. It can also be eaten whole, either as boiled rye berries, or by being rolled, similar to rolled oats
"Rye is generally recognised as having a whole host of ‘healthy’ good qualities, as well as having a great taste". Tom Layton
Rye, the principal grain consumed in traditional Scandinavian diets, is a fibre-rich food associated with satiety, weight management, and blood sugar control. In a European study, 158 people were assigned to either a standard Nordic diet (with lots of refined grains) or a healthy Nordic diet (rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy) consuming their usual calorie level. Researchers found that a high intake of whole grain rye (as measured using a plasma biomarker) was associated with decreased LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and an improved LDL to HDL ratio, while the biomarker for whole wheat consumption was not associated with any change in cholesterol.
(Source: PLoS One. 2014 Oct 23;9 (10):e110827. Magnusdottir OK et al.)
Rye is unusual among grains for the high level of fibre in its endosperm – not just in its bran. Because of this, rye products generally have a lower glycemic index than products made from wheat and most other grains, making them especially healthy for diabetics.
The type of fibre in rye promotes a rapid feeling of fullness, making rye foods a good choice for people trying to lose weight.
·Eating foods high in insoluble fibre, such as rye, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology
(Source: American Journal of Gastroenterology, whfoods.org)