Is Sourdough Bread Healthy? Here’s the scoop

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(Last Updated On: August 20, 2023)

Sourdough bread has been extremely popular recently, and for good reason. The unique fermentation process in making sourdough plays a significant role in unlocking beneficial nutrients, making it a healthier option compared to your regular loaf of bread.

Rich in vitamins and minerals such as B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium, sourdough bread offers so many nutritional benefits.

Additionally, the fermentation process can lead to increased prebiotic and probiotic-like properties, improving your gut health. Sourdough is not only easier to digest but is also known to provide better blood sugar benefits.

I honestly can’t believe that I didn’t know all the amazing benefits that sourdough bread had to offer earlier. Now I absolutely love making (and eating) sourdough bread for myself and my family.

What is Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is a type of bread made from a mixture of flour and water, fermented using a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast. The sourdough starter contains wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which work together to leaven the dough, giving the bread its unique sour flavor and texture.

To begin making sourdough bread, you first need a sourdough starter. Starter, also known as leaven, is a living organism that can be maintained and propagated for continuous use in bread making. It consists of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment for several days, allowing the wild yeast and bacteria to multiply.

Interested in learning how to make your own sourdough starter? Check out my article How to Make Sourdough Starter: An Easy, Step-by-Step Guide.

As the wild yeast in the starter ferments the dough, it produces carbon dioxide gas, which causes the bread to rise. At the same time, the lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid, which contributes to the bread’s distinctive tangy flavor.

Sourdough bread is unique in that it relies on the combination of wild yeast and bacteria for fermentation, rather than commercial yeast. This natural fermentation process results in a bread with a more complex flavor, a slightly denser texture, and potential health benefits, such as improved gut health and lower glycemic index.

Nutritional Profile of Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread offers a unique nutritional profile compared to other bread types. The follow info is based on a typical slice of sourdough bread from a round boule. (43 g):

  • Calories: 116
  • Carbohydrates: approximately 21 g, including a lower glycemic index than regular bread, meaning it may help regulate blood sugar.
  • Protein: around 4 g, providing essential amino acids for muscle building and repair.
  • Fat: 0.5 g, mainly in the form of healthier unsaturated fats.
  • Fiber: about 2 g per slice, helping to support digestion and maintain gut health.
  • Vitamins and minerals: sourdough contains small amounts of B vitamins and important minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc.

To maximize the nutritional benefits of sourdough bread, choose a loaf made with whole grain flour. Whole grain sourdough provides additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to a loaf made with refined white flour.

Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is not only delicious, but it also offers several health benefits that make it a great addition to your diet. The unique fermentation process used to make sourdough gives it some advantages over regular bread.

More Digestible: Sourdough bread is good for your gut. The fermentation process leads to an increased number of prebiotic and probiotic-like properties, which help improve gut health. This process also helps breaks down gluten, making it more digestible than normal bread. This can help alleviate bloating and other digestive issues caused by gluten consumption, particularly for those with gluten sensitivities.

Better for Blood Sugar Control: The fermentation process also impacts blood sugar levels. Sourdough bread has been found to have a lower glycemic index compared to other breads, which means it doesn’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This can make it a better choice for those with diabetes or those looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Higher Nutrient Content: Another benefit of sourdough bread is its nutrient profile. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. These nutrients are important for overall health, and consuming sourdough bread can help you meet your daily nutritional needs.

Sourdough and Gluten

When it comes to gluten, sourdough bread can be a better option for people who are gluten-sensitive or have gluten intolerance. The fermentation process in sourdough bread results in partial breakdown of gluten proteins, making it potentially easier to digest for some people with gluten sensitivities.

My hands-down favorite flour comes from a local mill, Sunrise Flour Mill, that uses pre-1950’s wheat and an old-school milling technique. So many people say they can eat bread made with Sunrise Flour Mill’s Heritage Bread Blend, without any tummy issues!

Try Sunrise Flour Mill’s Heritage Bread Blend (directly from their website) and get 10% off!
or you can find Sunrise Flour Mill’s Heritage Bread Blend here on Amazon.

However, it’s important to remember that sourdough bread is not suitable for individuals with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body reacts negatively to gluten, causing damage to the small intestine. Traditional sourdough bread is made from wheat, which contains gluten.

For those seeking gluten-free options, there are sourdough bread varieties made with gluten-free flours, such as rice or quinoa flour.

Sourdough Bread and Microbiome

Now we’re going to get a little scienc-y 🙂 Sourdough bread is made through a unique fermentation process that involves a symbiotic colony of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts. This combination results in benefits to the bread and those eating it! In this section, you’ll learn about the connection between sourdough bread and the microbiome, including the roles of lactic acid bacteria, probiotics, prebiotics, and more.

When you make sourdough bread, the lactic acid bacteria and yeasts work together to ferment the dough. The most prevalent type of LAB found in sourdough is lactobacilli, responsible for producing lactic acid during fermentation. This acid not only contributes to the bread’s characteristic tangy flavor but also helps extend its shelf life.

One advantage of sourdough bread is its potential probiotic effects. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome and contribute to overall well-being. While the live bacteria in the sourdough starter do not survive the baking process, they still have the potential to improve the bread’s nutritional qualities and have a positive impact on your health.

Fermentation also leads to the creation of prebiotics, which are an essential component in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotics are food for the beneficial bacteria present in our intestines. Sourdough bread contains prebiotic fibers, such as arabinoxylans, that are highly fermentable by the gut’s native lactobacilli. By including some sourdough bread into your diet, you can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Lastly, the presence of lactic acid bacteria in sourdough bread helps break down certain components in the dough, making it more easily digestible for the consumer. LAB activity during fermentation can break down phytic acid, an antinutrient present in whole grains that can interfere with mineral absorption. This means that you may benefit from better absorption of essential minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium when consuming sourdough bread as opposed to other types of bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sourdough bread help with weight loss?

Sourdough bread, like other bread types, contains calories and isn’t a weight loss food. However, moderate consumption can fit into a healthy, balanced diet that promotes weight loss. The key here is portion control and ensuring you consume it in moderation along with other nutritious foods. Keep in mind that weight loss is best achieved through a combination of healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.

Does sourdough bread improve gut health?

Yes, sourdough bread can have a positive impact on gut health. During the fermentation process, sourdough bread develops prebiotic and probiotic-like properties, which can help contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. These properties can aid in the digestion process and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Is sourdough bread OK for diabetics?

Sourdough bread can be a better option for diabetics compared to regular bread, as it has been shown to have a lower glycemic index (GI). A lower GI means that it doesn’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike as quickly as other bread types might. However, it’s still important for diabetics to monitor their carbohydrate intake and maintain a balanced diet. It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or a dietitian for personalized advice.

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