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What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpernickel?

What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpernickel?
Rich, dark pumpernickel bread contains healthy amounts of fiber.

Pumpernickel -- a brown bread made from coarse rye flour -- features a rich, robust flavor and partners well with hearty foods such as aged cheese and smoked salmon. For the bread to be considered true pumpernickel, it should be made from whole-grain rye flour; it is the nutritious bran and germ of the rye that gives pumpernickel its rich chocolate color. Eaten in moderation, whole grain pumpernickel -- tasty, high in fiber, and rich in assorted vitamins and minerals -- is a healthy dietary choice.

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The Basics

One slice of pumpernickel bread contains 2.26 g of protein, .81 g of total fat, 12.35 g of carbohydrate and 1.7 g of fiber. Pumpernickel is low in fat and cholesterol-free, with one slice containing a diet-friendly 65 calories -- less than the amount found in an apple. The small amount of fat in pumpernickel bread is composed mostly of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Fiber and Lignans

The amount of dietary fiber in a single slice of pumpernickel bread is about the same as that found in a 1/4 cup of raisins or a 1/2 cup of brown rice -- both considered good sources of fiber. Fiber can help lower your levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol, control your blood sugar and reduce your risk of diabetes and diverticular disease. In addition, fiber promotes efficient bowel movements and creates a feeling of satiety -- or fullness -- which may help curb overeating. Pumpernickel is also high in natural phytochemicals called lignans, which have antioxidant and estrogen-like qualities. High intake of plant lignans is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in some studies; research into the benefits of lignans is ongoing.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pumpernickel contains B-complex vitamins -- particularly thiamin, or vitamin B-1, needed to produce energy in the body -- and niacin, or vitamin B-3, essential in nervous and digestive system health. Also present in pumpernickel is folate, in the amount of 24 mcg per slice; this B-complex vitamin is important in the production of red blood cells and helps prevent rare neural tube defects in newborns. Pumpernickel also provides manganese in the amount of .330 mg per slice; manganese helps form a potent antioxidant called superoxide dismutase, which scavenges harmful free radicals in the body. Selenium -- a trace mineral essential for proper immune system function -- is also present in the amount of 6.4 mcg per slice. Pumpernickel also contains the minerals calcium and magnesium -- essential for the building and maintenance of strong bones -- as well as iron, vital for making hemoglobin.


Scientific research supports the beneficial effects of whole-grain foods such as pumpernickel. In a study of women with coronary artery disease published in 2005 in "American Heart Journal," researchers found that more than six servings of whole grains a week were associated with smaller declines in coronary artery diameters. They concluded that higher intakes of whole-grain foods could slow the progression of atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Research also supports possible chemoprotective effects for foods rich in plant lignans. In a meta-analysis published in 2009 in "British Journal of Cancer," the authors examined the relationship between breast cancer risk and intake of plant lignans. High dietary lignan intakes were associated with reduced breast cancer risk in seven studies of postmenopausal women; the authors called for further study.

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