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All of us might have seen and heard about Sourdough bread.1 This dish that looks no less than a piece of art has been featured all over social media.
So is sourdough bread worth all the hype surrounding it?
Is sourdough bread healthy? Is it better from a nutritional perspective than other bread? Is it loaded with vitamins, fibres, and minerals, as claimed by its enthusiasts?
Let’s find out.
1. Meet The Superstar Among Bread
2. What Is Sourdough Bread?
Even though it gained immense popularity only recently, sourdough has been around for centuries. Before finding out if sourdough bread is healthy, let us delve into what sourdough bread is.
Sourdough bread means bread that has been made from a special fermentation process2 achieved with the use of a fermented starter instead of regular store-bought baker’s yeast.
The sourdough bread became an instant hit, and everyone was scouring for ingredients, including the sourdough starter, to whip up their sourdough.
The health benefits of sourdough bread add to its popularity. In addition to being a healthier choice compared to other bread like white flour bread, sourdough bread’s potential health benefits are numerous.
The tangy flavour, healthy fats, and other nutritional benefits make sourdough a much better alternative to regular white bread.
As already mentioned, sourdough bread rises due to the presence of wild yeast and the lactic acid bacteria present in the sourdough starter.
The lactic acid bacteria is what renders the characteristic tangy flavour to the sourdough. During cereal fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria react with the various sugars present in the dough and aid in developing its unique flavour. Sourdough fermentation can take over a few days, with the starter taking about a week to complete the process.
Moreover, lactic acid bacteria is a beneficial bacteria in the human gut. Sourdough bread hence aids in bettering gut health as well.
If you are following a specific diet but can’t give up on your bread, ditch the regular bread and turn to sourdough bread.
3. Benefits Of Sourdough Bread
So keep aside all the hype sourdough earned; let us look at the main question here. Is sourdough bread healthy? Is it worth it to take the pain to make a batch?
Does it have all the benefits that sourdough enthusiasts claim it does?
Is sourdough bread healthy enough that we can replace it with our whole grain bread and even consume it while on a diet?
Let us find out!
3.1. Better For Gut Health
The first and foremost answer to the question is whether sourdough bread is healthy would be that it is indeed healthy. The primary reason for the same is that it aids in bettering the health of our gut.3
Our digestive system houses several good bacteria that aid in our digestion. The lactic acid in the sourdough starter is also part of the good bacteria in our digestive system.
Moreover, the mixture of the yeast and lactic acid in the raising agent for the bread and the sourdough fermentation breaks down the plant compounds like indigestible fibre and gluten. These, in turn, make sourdough bread more easily digestible compared to other breads.
3.2. Smaller Glycemic Load
The glycemic index4 of sourdough bread is around 52, much lower than white bread’s. On the other hand, white bread has a glycemic load in the range of 73 to 91.
Thus sourdough bread does not cause any sudden peaking of blood sugar. Regular white bread is often made from refined grains with a higher glycemic index and fewer beneficial nutrients. A greater glycemic load also adversely affects the energy metabolism of the body.
By altering the structure of the molecules of bread, sourdough bread makes the blood sugar levels stable. Hence, everyone, especially those struggling with fluctuating blood sugar, should resort to sourdough bread when craving some bread.
3.3. Storehouse Of Nutrients
What makes sourdough bread so popular in comparison to regular wheat bread is the fact that it is packed with so many nutrients.
From folate and iron to magnesium, a range of nutrients are present in sourdough. Not to mention the probiotic effects due to the sourdough fermentation.
3.3.1. Nutrient Data Of Sourdough Bread
How can our quest of is sourdough bread is healthy be complete without investigating the nutritional makeup of the bread?
One medium slice of sourdough bread has the following nutrient profile.
- 185 calories
- 36g of Carbohydrates
- 1g of Fats
- 1g of Fiber
- 2g of Protein
- 0.5g of Sugars
Sourdough also contains higher levels of soluble Magnesium, Niacin, Iron, Folate, Calcium, and Potassium. It also increases soluble magnesium levels in the body.
3.4. Greater Absorption Of Essential Nutrients
The process of making sourdough, including fermentation, is long. The lengthy fermentation of the dough ensures that complete phytic acid degradation occurs. Phytic acid, if present in excess, can inhibit the complete absorption of nutrients in the food into the body.
The longer fermentation process of the dough here ensures that all the essential nutrients get absorbed into the body.
3.5. Free From Harmful Chemicals
The home baking process to make sourdough bread warrants that you are not putting any harmful chemicals into it. Authentic sourdough consists of just three ingredients. They are flour, salt, and water. Also, the question is whether sourdough bread is relevant only when we make it at home.
It is made without any harmful ingredients, preservatives, or chemicals.
Commercially produced yeasted loaves of bread have numerous additional ingredients, sugars, and oils in addition to the basic components that make bread.
3.6. Source Of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are known to protect the body from a variety of diseases. Bread made from sourdough is rich in antioxidants. Other varieties do not have any trace of antioxidants in them.
Sourdough can hence be consumed to increase the antioxidant intake of our body and as part of a healthy diet, even without ditching our favourite foods. This benefit ticks a big box in terms of whether sourdough bread is healthy.
4. Simple Sourdough Recipe
Now that we have seen that sourdough bread is healthy, let us look at how to make sourdough. The first and foremost step in preparing sourdough is to make the starter for the same. Several recipes can be found on platforms like the Allrecipes food group. Here is a simple recipe that everyone can try at home.
4.1. Sourdough Starter
First, we must create a starter before we can bake a loaf of sourdough.
This flour and water culture is used to cultivate wild yeast and bacteria.
To achieve a nice rise and flavour development, use a “ripe,” or completely matured, starter.
In around five days, we can create our starter.
On the first day, we make a batter out of flour and water and leave it to rest at room temperature overnight.
Wild yeast can be found everywhere, on the flour, in the air, and even on your hands. They will grow swiftly in this environment.
When the culture becomes extremely bubbly within a few hours of feeding and has a fresh, sour fragrance, we can use it for baking our sourdough. We must then pour off some of the cultures over the next few days, then add fresh flour and water to feed the yeast and bacteria.
Once we have prepared a starter, we never have to look back. The same starter can be strengthened and used every time you desire to bake a loaf of fresh sourdough.
We can store our starter in the refrigerator and feed it once a week if you only bake a few times each month.
If you bake frequently, keep your starter at room temperature and feed it once a day or more.
Once we have this ready, it is indeed a breeze to bake our sourdough.
- Feed your starter regularly and give it a few days to flourish.
- A portion of this starter will be used in the first batch, and the remainder will be saved for later.
- A portion of your starter should be combined with the bread flour and water on the day you plan to bake, and you should give this combination some time to rest.
- Next, use salt as per taste.
- Before letting it rest one more time for 10 to 30 minutes, fold the dough a few times.
- Till the dough is smooth and elastic, repeat the folding and resting procedures a few times. Add more flour if need be.
- Let the dough rise one last time at room temperature, increasing its volume by around 1.5 times.
- Give the dough a loaf shape and bake it in a baking stone or Dutch oven.
4.3. Keep These In Mind
The aim is to make sourdough as healthy as possible. Sourdough can be made from grains like whole wheat flour, rye, oats, and others.
While it does not form a strictly gluten-free diet5, patients with gluten intolerance who do not have celiac disease have reported that they do not experience stomach problems when consuming it.
It is better for people with gluten sensitivity than whole wheat bread. While not entirely gluten-free, it is a better alternative to loaves made from other refined grains. Those who do not have gluten sensitivity can even consume whole wheat sourdough. It is also a part of the Mediterranean diet, rich in fibre and other nutrients.
5. So, Is Sourdough Bread Healthy?
In conclusion, we can see that the answer to the question of is sourdough bread healthy is, of course, a resounding yes. Loaded with nutrients and free from the ill effects of white bread, sourdough is our best bet for bread products.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your aprons and get baking today.
Q1. Is Sourdough Healthier for You Than Regular Bread?
Sourdough is a healthier alternative to traditional white or wheat bread. Despite having similar nutrients, the lower level of phytate means it’s easier to digest and more nutritious. Prebiotics help keep your gut bacteria happy and less likely to spike your blood sugar.
Q2. Is Sourdough Bread Okay for Weight Loss?
Bread can have health benefits because of the fermentation process that bread makers use to make it. Beneficial bacteria and low phytates make grains easier to digest, and they can also aid digestion.
Q3. What Is the Disadvantage of Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough, a calorie-dense bread, can make it difficult for you to gain weight. While white bread is fine for ghost bread, it is the least healthy option.
- Paterson, Alistair, and John R. Piggott. “Flavour in sourdough breads: a review.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 17.10 (2006): 557-566. ↩︎
- Valyasevi, Ruud, and Rosa S. Rolle. “An overview of small-scale food fermentation technologies in developing countries with special reference to Thailand: scope for their improvement.” International Journal of Food Microbiology 75.3 (2002): 231-239. ↩︎
- Shreiner, Andrew B., John Y. Kao, and Vincent B. Young. “The gut microbiome in health and in disease.” Current opinion in gastroenterology 31.1 (2015): 69. ↩︎
- Wolever, Thomas M., et al. “The glycemic index: methodology and clinical implications.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 54.5 (1991): 846-854. ↩︎
- Saturni, Letizia, Gianna Ferretti, and Tiziana Bacchetti. “The gluten-free diet: safety and nutritional quality.” Nutrients 2.1 (2010): 00016-00034. ↩︎