Endosperm and whole grain rye breads are characterized by low post-prandial insulin response and a beneficial blood glucose profile

Nutr J. 2009 Sep 25;8:42. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-8-42.


Background: Rye products have previously been shown to induce comparatively low post-prandial insulin responses; irrespectively of their glycaemic indices (GI). However, the mechanism behind this lowered insulin demand remains unknown. An improved insulin economy might contribute to the benefits seen in epidemiological studies with whole grain diets on metabolic risk factors and weight regulation. The objective of this study was to explore the mechanism for a reduced post-prandial insulin demand with rye products.

Methods: 12 healthy subjects were given flour based rye products made from endosperm, whole grain or bran, produced with different methods (baking, simulated sour-dough baking and boiling) as breakfasts in random order in a cross-over design. White wheat bread (WWB) was used as a reference. Blood glucose, serum insulin, plasma ghrelin and subjective satiety were measured during 180 minutes. To evaluate the course of post-meal glycaemia, a measure of the glycaemic profile (GP) was introduced defined as the duration for the incremental post-prandial blood glucose response divided with the blood glucose incremental peak (min/mM).

Results: The study shows that whole grain rye breads and endosperm rye products induced significantly (p < 0.05) lower insulinaemic indices (II's) than WWB. Rye bran bread (RBB) produced significantly higher II compared with all the other rye products. Furthermore, the acute insulin response showed better correlations with the GP than with the GI of the products. The endosperm rye bread and the whole grain rye bread with lactic acid induced a significantly higher GP than RBB, WWB, white wheat- and whole grain rye porridge, respectively. A low insulin incremental peak was associated with less severe late post-prandial hypoglycaemia (r = 0.38, p < 0.001), and hypoglycaemia was negatively correlated to subjective satiety at 180 min (r = -0.28, p < 0.05). A low insulin incremental peak was also associated with a milder recovery of plasma ghrelin in the late post-prandial phase (180 min, r = 0.34, p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Our study shows that endosperm and whole grain rye products induce low acute insulinaemic responses and improved glycaemic profiles. The results also suggest that the rye products possess beneficial appetite regulating properties. Further studies are needed to identify the unknown property or bioactive component(s) responsible for these beneficial metabolic features of rye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Bread
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period / physiology*
  • Satiation
  • Secale*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin