Sourdough bread has risen in popularity over the past few years (see what we did there?), and with good reason: In comparison to the average loaf of supermarket-bought bread, it’s packed-full with things good for your health, and way easier to digest. Below, we’ve rounded up all the facts you need to know about our favourite kind of loaf (kidding, we love all loaves equally!)
But wait...First things first. What is sourdough bread?
Sourdough is one of the oldest forms of grain fermentation. It’s believed to have originated in ancient Egypt around 1,500 BC and remained the most popular form of bread leavening until baker’s yeast replaced it centuries later.
While most leavened breads use commercial baker’s yeast to help the dough rise, traditional sourdough fermentation relies on “wild yeast” and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour to leaven the bread.The result is a a loaf that’s tangier, but also, overall pretty good for your health.
It’s more nutritious than regular bread
Sourdough bread is often made from the same flour as other types of bread, but its fermentation process makes its nutrition profile stand out from its counterparts.
For starters, being whole grain, it contains a good amount of minerals, including potassium, phosphate, magnesium and zinc.
Usually, the absorption of these minerals is limited by the presence of phytic acid (a compound naturally found in wheat that actually blocks our bodies from absorbing many of its vitamins and minerals). But the lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread lower the bread’s pH, which helps degrade phytates. This results in a bread that has a much lower phytate content than other kinds.
It’s highly digestible
When sourdough bread dough is rising, the bacteria from the starter ferments the flour in the dough and pre-digests it. What’s more, the fermentation degrades gluten to a greater extent than baker’s yeast. That, in turns, makes it more digestible than conventional bread, especially for those who have a gluten sensitivity.
It’s full of prebiotics!
The sourdough starter that causes sourdough bread to rise is full of good living bacteria, and rich in both prebiotics and probiotics. While the probiotics can’t really cope with the high heat of the oven when the bread is baked, prebiotics do. The bacteria in our guts feed on these prebiotics and help produce nutrients for our bodies that lead to a healthier digestive system.
It has a lower glycemic index than regular bread
Store-bought loaves often cause blood sugar levels to spike quickly. However, because of the sourdough fermentation process, many of the sugars and starches in the flour are broken down and eaten up by the natural yeasts, so that you get a lot less of those in the slice(s) you eat. In other words: sourdough bread’s glycemic index — the number given to foods that measures how the carbohydrates in them affect blood glucose levels — is lower.