Sourdough bread is unique in terms of how it’s made and how it affects our bodies, but can it be part of a healthy diet? The revival of low or reduced-carbs diets, such as the keto and paleo diets, has villainized all or certain grains, white bread in particular reigning as public enemy number one in the diet world.
The ultimate question is, does sourdough’s special composition make it a healthier choice? Let us break down the nutrition and health benefits of sourdough.
A sourdough bread recipe is just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and wild yeast. The process begins with making a sourdough starter, to help cultivate this wild yeast, which gives sourdough its distinct, tangy flavor. The starter contains live wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, this starter can be added to sourdough recipe. The easy, but long process of fermenting and rising also helps give sourdough a unique texture and beautiful shape.
A slice of sourdough stacks up very nicely against conventional white bread in terms of protein, vitamin, and mineral content, as well as the presence of prebiotics. While everything should be enjoyed in moderation, this is certainly bread you can feel good about eating. Our sourdough contains no PRESERVATIVES, and our ingredients are mostly organic. I write this because salt and water are not organic.
Vitamin and Mineral-Rich
Sourdough is a great source of several minerals such as iron and selenium. Iron is an essential part of red blood cell production and energy metabolism, and selenium helps protect our immune system, cells, and tissue. Sourdough is also a great source of many B vitamins, which assist in proper nervous system function and help regulate our metabolisms.
Prebiotics & Probiotic-like Benefits
Prebiotics are a type of indigestible fiber that keep your gut healthy by feeding the good bacteria, called probiotics, that live there. The presence of prebiotics in sourdough is thought to make it easier to digest than many other breads and the presence of probiotic cultures have shown to increase vitamin and mineral absorption. The probiotics themselves don’t survive the baking process, but the lactic acid bacteria produced during fermentation remains and provides the benefits. The presence of lactic acid bacteria in sourdough has shown to also contain antioxidant benefits, safeguarding your body against illness.
One slice of sourdough has more protein than an egg, making it an easy way to increase your protein intake. The high protein content can be partially attributed to the tedious sourdough preparation process. All the resting and folding involved in preparing the dough for baking helps to activate its gluten content. Gluten is composed of proteins and helps give bread dough its elasticity. Our organic non-bleached all-purpose flour contains 12 grams of protein alone.
Sourdough differs from other breads in a variety of ways.
First, our ingredient list for sourdough is much shorter than supermarket varieties. Many types of supermarket breads have oils, sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals in their ingredient list. Besides affecting the flavor of the bread, chemicals and additional ingredients are often added to other breads because they can’t stay fresh as long as sourdough can or fend off mold as well. The presence of bacteria, due to sourdough’s unique fermentation process, improves sourdough’s nutritional profile. This allows for better nutrient absorption, improved gut health, and studies have shown fermentation alters the structure of carbohydrates in the dough for better blood sugar control and a lower score on the glycemic index.
Is Sourdough Bread Gluten-Free?
No, sourdough bread is not gluten-free, but it has shown to be easier on the digestive system for those with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. The long fermentation process involved in making sourdough has shown to improve digestion of gluten-forming proteins, known for causing wheat intolerances and allergies.
Some research has shown the presence of fructans*, which cause digestive issues like gluten intolerances and are now thought to be the cause of many self-diagnosed “gluten intolerances.” However, sourdough fermentation breaks down fructans, making them easier on the digestive system.
Phytic acid is another culprit for causing digestive issues in the body and is present in wheat and bread products, but the yeast and lactic acid produced by the sourdough starter neutralizes the effects of phytic acid, making nutrient absorption and overall digestion much easier.
* A fructan is a molecule consisting of a chain of fructose molecules joined together, and with a glucose molecule at the end. Fructans are sugars that are included in the FODMAP group of carbohydrates that can cause digestive disorders.
Sourdough is a naturally leavened bread, which means it doesn't use commercial yeast to rise. Instead, it uses a 'starter'. The starter is fermented flour and water mixture that contains wild yeast and good bacteria. All of our starters are historic or heritage starters.
Prozymi (Greek for starter)
The ‘starter’ is kept in a jar and requires frequent refreshments and feedings with flour and water to remain active and healthy.
Inside the jar the 'wild' natural yeast and lactic acid bacteria are produced. All this natural slow chemistry gives the bread its high nutritional value, digestibility (as gluten is broken down by the naturally occurring acids) and of course its distinctive tangy flavor. Sourdough fermentation produces changes in the bread that may allow for better blood sugar control.
All my bakes involve a very lengthy fermentation process, resulting in bread that is super healthy while tantalizingly delicious. My process, tried and tested, takes 3 days from start to finish.
I bake exclusively with organic flour. I use All purpose (wheat/barley), Rye, Einkorn & Wheat flours.
For my enriched loaves, I choose top quality & organic products like grass fed butter, cheese, seeds, herbs, spices, sugars, fruits and oils.