Pumpernickel Bread Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Pumpernickel bread

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Pumpernickel is a type of bread that is made using a sourdough starter, rye flour, and whole rye grains. This dark, slightly sweet bread originated in the Westphalia area of Germany in the mid-1400s. It is known for its long baking time which gives the bread its characteristic dark color.

While pumpernickel is not as popular in the U.S. as white bread, light rye bread, or sourdough, it can be found in most grocery stores and delicatessens. Pumpernickel is high in fiber and provides important nutrients, making this bread a healthy addition to your diet.

Pumpernickel Bread Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition data is provided by the USDA for one medium slice (32g) of pumpernickel bread.

  • Calories: 80
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 191mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15.2g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Sugars: 0.2g
  • Protein: 2.8g

Carbs

There are 80 calories and just over 15 grams of carbohydrate in a medium slice of pumpernickel measuring about 5" x 4" and about 3/8" thick. A slice of this bread also provides about 2.1 grams of fiber and less than one gram of sugar. The rest of the carbohydrates in pumpernickel is starch.

The glycemic index of pumpernickel is estimated to be about 41, making this a low glycemic food. The glycemic load of a single slice is estimated to be 5. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when a food's impact on blood sugar is estimated.

Fats

There is about 1g of fat in a slice of pumpernickel.

Protein

A single slice of pumpernickel provides 2.8 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pumpernickel bread is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral used in the body to maintain strong bones, healthy reproduction, blood clotting, and a strong immune system.

Pumpernickel is also a good source of selenium, providing about 7.8 micrograms per slice. The body uses selenium for a number of functions including the maintenance of proper thyroid gland function and DNA production.

Health Benefits

Choosing whole-grain foods, like pumpernickel bread, can provide certain health benefits. The minerals in this bread also come with certain health advantages.

Helps Prevents Cell Damage

Both selenium and manganese help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. You can be exposed to free radicals such as cigarette smoke or air pollution in the environment. Your body also makes free radicals as a result of natural functions like eating and exercise. Free radicals can cause cell damage through a process called oxidative stress, which is believed to play a role in diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other conditions.

May Boost Immune Function

Selenium helps protect cells from damage caused by infection. Manganese is used by the body to maintain a healthy immune system. Both of these important nutrients are provided in pumpernickel bread and may be able to help your body fight off disease and infection. In fact, some researchers even believe that because rye contains more fiber and bioactive compounds; bread made from wholegrain rye flour may provide protection against breast cancer.

Constipation Relief

Experts often advise that people consume foods high in fiber to promote better digestive function. According to research, this is due not only to the fiber component but also because of the other nutrients and phytonutrients that are present in whole grains as opposed to their refined-grain counterparts.

One study in particular examined the consumption of rye bread in comparison to other types of wheat bread and its effect on constipation. Researchers found that rye bread relieves mild constipation and improves colonic metabolism better than white wheat bread and commonly used laxatives without causing other gastrointestinal adverse effects.

May Aid in Weight Loss

Pumpernickel bread and other whole-grain breads are healthier alternatives to white bread made with refined grains. For example, according to USDA data, one regular slice of white bread provides about 75 calories and 1.6 grams of sugar but less than one gram of fiber (0.76g). On the other hand, pumpernickel provides 80 calories but over 2 grams of fiber and only 0.2 grams of sugar.

Adding fiber to your diet can help you to feel full longer after eating. Studies show an association between increased fiber intake and successful weight loss in calorie-restricted diets.

Improved Diabetes Management

Pumpernickel and other rye grains have been studied for their glycemic response in people with diabetes. One notable older study suggested that using pumpernickel flour in bread may result in a lower GI value for bread.

At least one more recent study has shown that consuming pumpernickel results in significantly lower peak glucose than other bread including white, whole wheat buttermilk, and wholegrain bread. It also produced a lower peak insulin response than white or wholegrain bread.

Allergies

Those with a wheat allergy may want to be cautious when consuming pumpernickel bread. Rye, the main flour used to make pumpernickel, does not contain wheat. However, many bakeries that make pumpernickel often also bake other wheat-containing bread, so cross-contamination is possible. It is also possible that some wheat flour or whole wheat grains are present in pumpernickel recipes.

There are also some limited reports of rye flour causing a reaction called baker's asthma. Baker's asthma is an allergy usually associated with wheat flour and causes symptoms such as rhinoconjunctivitis and other asthma symptoms in the baking workplace. Some research has shown that rye flour can elicit these symptoms in certain individuals.

Adverse Effects

Those with celiac disease should not consume pumpernickel, as rye contains gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder (not an allergy) in which people with the condition experience an inflammatory immune response when consuming gluten-containing foods.

It is also possible to have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or other forms of gluten-intolerance. People with those conditions should also avoid pumpernickel and other forms of rye bread. Consuming gluten can cause digestive problems such as gassiness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.

Varieties

Pumpernickel is closely related to other types of rye bread. Dark rye bread, for example, uses rye flour and has a deep, dark color, but is not technically pumpernickel bread. True pumpernickel uses pumpernickel flour (made from whole rye berries) and usually incorporates breadcrumbs from other rye loaves.

There are different ways to make pumpernickel bread. The traditional recipe requires that you bake the bread for a very long time at a low temperature. As a result, a chemical reaction (called the Maillard reaction) gives the bread its distinctive deep, brown color, and earthy taste.

Commercial bakers often use a shorter baking time to make pumpernickel. Then they use ingredients such as molasses, coffee, or cocoa powder to get the dark brown color and deep flavor.

When It’s Best

Pumpernickel is available year-round in most supermarkets. But the bread found in big box grocery stores is likely to be the commercial version of pumpernickel. Try visiting a German bakery for a more traditional variety.

Storage and Food Safety

Because there are different ways to make pumpernickel, there are also different ways to store it and keep it fresh. Some dense varieties of this bread are known to have a very long shelf-life. In fact, some traditional German varieties are even sold in a can and are rumored to last up to two years. Check the package for guidance regarding the "best by" date.

As a general rule, if you purchase pumpernickel bread from your local bakery, it may not contain the preservatives that commercial bread is likely to contain. For that reason, you should store the bread at room temperature and plan to consume homemade or bakery bread within 3-5 days. If you buy commercially prepared bread, you can put it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. Commercially-prepared bread or homemade bread may be frozen for up to 6 months.

How to Prepare

You can make your own pumpernickel bread at home. Pumpernickel flour is available in some specialty markets and online. Many flour producers put a pumpernickel recipe on the flour package. Recipes are likely to call for some combination of rye flour, whole wheat flour, and pumpernickel flour. You might also need caraway seeds, molasses, cocoa, or cornmeal. One popular recipe even calls for mashed potatoes.

Once you've got a loaf of pumpernickel, there are countless ways to enjoy it. Many people like to slice it thin and enjoy it topped with a slice of cheese and cured meat. You can make an easy appetizer with pumpernickel by cutting each slice in four small squares. Top each square with cream cheese, sliced red onion, tomato, and a sliver of salmon.

You can also enjoy pumpernickel the same way you enjoy other types of bread. Top it with avocado and eggs for a hearty morning meal, use it to make a savory grilled cheese sandwich, or simply toast it and spread a thin layer of butter on top.

Recipes

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