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Rye

What is Rye?

Rye is a cereal crop that is grown extensively for its grains as well as for its forage. Scientifically known as ‘Secale Cereale’, it belongs to the wheat tribe ‘Triticeae’ and is mostly used as flour, rye bread, rye beer, and as animal feed. Although it is not consumed on a wide scale as compared to wheat, it is still grown extensively in many parts of the world, especially in areas where difficult conditions do not permit the growth of wheat. Almost one-third of the total rye production in the world is used in the form of human food.

Rye
Characteristics of Rye

Rye possesses certain characteristics that makes it suitable to be gown in areas where wheat cannot be grown. It has the strength to survive harsh winters and can grow very well in low fertile sandy soils and during drought. In addition, rye requires less than 30% of water and can survive prolonged submersion in water. Due to these features, it is typically grown for providing food to livestock and also in areas where erosion control is very crucial.

Rye bears a lot of resemblance to wheat and produces kernels in the same manner as wheat. However, the kernels of rye are much smaller and dark in color as compared to those of wheat. Also, the yield of rye flour per acre is much lower than that of wheat and is a little bit more difficult to thresh and harvest than wheat or any other grain. Rye contains many healthy nutrients like dietary fibers, manganese, phosphorous and proteins. It also contains many important B vitamins like thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, etc.

Rye
History of Rye

The cultivation of rye started around 4000 years ago and was actually the most regularly consumed bread until the 19th century, when it was replaced with the production of wheat. The grains of rye are thought to have been originated somewhere in Southwestern Asia. During the Middle Ages, rye was being cultivated on a large scale in Central & Eastern Europe. During the 17th century, rye was brought to North and South America by the Europeans. The cultivation of rye also slowly began in Russia, and later in Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa and Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Uses of Rye

Following are the areas where rye is used extensively throughout the world:

  • For Human Consumption: Foods made of rye that are consumed by humans include bread and other bakery items made of rye flour. It does not produce true gluten as wheat but has major amount of proteins that helps in making nutritious leavened bread. Beverages like beer and whiskey and vodka are also made from rye
  • Animal Feed & Bedding: Rye is also used as a feed for livestock. However, it should be mixed with other grains in small proportions and then fed to the animals. This is because of the fact that rye has a low feed value and can be palatable and toxic if it is infested with ergot. Apart from this, the fibrous straws of rye make it ideal to make a comfortable bedding for the livestock
  • As a Cover Crop: According to recent studies, rye also helps in reducing the growth of weed by about 95%. However, if used as a cover crop in areas that are meant to produce wheat or other crops, care must be taken to ensure that the cover crop is immediately destroyed, otherwise it can become a weed pest.
Health Benefits of Rye

A diet rich in rye has many potential health benefits that can be explained as follows:

  • Avoiding Constipation: Rye is rich in dietary fibers that help in reducing the intestinal transit time. This helps in improving the bowel functions, thereby preventing constipation
  • Reducing Weight: In addition to being rich in fibers, rye is also very low in fats. Thus, it is an ideal source of diet for many over-weight people as it helps in keeping the weight under control
  • Controlling Diabetes: The presence of dietary fibers in rye has been seen as a major factor in increasing the insulin sensitivity, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes
  • Reducing Cardiovascular Diseases and Cancer: Fiber-rich rye also helps in reducing many cardiovascular and cancerous diseases.
Health Benefits of Rye

A diet rich in rye has many potential health benefits that can be explained as follows:

  • Avoiding Constipation: Rye is rich in dietary fibers that help in reducing the intestinal transit time. This helps in improving the bowel functions, thereby preventing constipation
  • Reducing Weight: In addition to being rich in fibers, rye is also very low in fats. Thus, it is an ideal source of diet for many over-weight people as it helps in keeping the weight under control
  • Controlling Diabetes: The presence of dietary fibers in rye has been seen as a major factor in increasing the insulin sensitivity, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes
  • Reducing Cardiovascular Diseases and Cancer: Fiber-rich rye also helps in reducing many cardiovascular and cancerous diseases.