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Is Wheat or Rye Bread Better for You?

author image Tara Carson
Based in Richmond, Va., Tara Carson has written articles for editorial and corporate online and print publications for more than 10 years. She has experience as an adjunct professor of nutrition at Northwest Christian University and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism and nutrition from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Is Wheat or Rye Bread Better for You?
Three loaves of sliced bread on a cutting board.

Bread is an important food staple for Americans. Significant grains used in breadmaking include wheat and rye, and have been feeding human beings for thousands of years. Carbon evidence of wheat grains exist from 6,750 B.C., and evidence of rye bread origination dates about 250 years after that. Wheat and rye co-exist in rye bread, which is usually comprised of 25 to 50 percent wheat flour, according to the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota. Both bread types are important for the diet, but comparing their nutritional content reveals each is appropriate for different health conditions.

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Calories and Protein

A slice of wheat bread provides 66 calories, or 3 percent of a standard 2,000-calorie diet, and 2.7 g protein, or 5 percent of the 50 g Food and Drug Administration daily value. A rye bread slice provides 64 calories, 3 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet and 2.1 g of protein, or 4 percent of the daily value. Wheat bread provides a slightly higher value of protein and calories that provide sustainable energy compared with rye bread.


Wheat bread provides .9 g of fiber, or 4 percent of the 25 g FDA daily value, and rye bread provides 1.4 g of fiber, or 6 percent of the daily value. Fiber has important nutritional quality for the management of weight and blood glucose balance. The higher fiber rye bread also provides lower calories, and may be slightly more advantageous for dieters, compared with wheat bread.


A slice of rye bread contains 165 g of sodium, and wheat bread provides 130 mg. The FDA daily upper intake recommendation is 2,400 mg. A diet high in sodium is standard in the United States. Reducing sodium intake improves blood pressure and prevents heart arrythmias. Wheat bread is a better choice for those watching their sodium intake for the management of cardiac and kidney disorders.

Insulin Response

Consuming rye bread results in a better insulin response compared with consuming refined wheat bread, according to a 2003 study by researchers from several universities, including University of Kuopio in Finland. The researchers concluded that the results may be related to the molecular differences in rye bread compared with wheat bread, related to the structure of starch within the bread.

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