Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Ancient Egyptians were the first people to make a type of bread known as sourdough, which dates back more than 5,000 years. This type of bread is regarded to be the first example of leavened bread, which refers to bread that is produced using a rising agent.

Sourdough, which is prepared with yeasts that occur naturally and bacteria that produce lactic acid, was the most common type of leavened bread consumed all over the world until the invention of commercial yeasts in the 1800s.

Benefits of Sourdough Bread

The natural fermentation process that sourdough goes through may reduce the influence that it has on blood sugar levels, improve its digestibility, and increase the amount of nutrients that are available to the body.

All of the information you need to know about sourdough bread, including its possible health benefits, nutritional value, and applications, is provided below under.

A Better Choice for Blood Sugar Control

There is evidence that sourdough has a lesser influence on blood sugar levels and a lower glycemic index than other forms of bread, such as white bread. This is in comparison to conventional leavened bread, which has been proven to have a higher impact on blood sugar levels. GI stands for the glycemic index, which is a classification system that assesses meals that are high in carbohydrates on a scale that ranges from 0 to 100 based on the influence that they have on blood sugar levels.

A food is considered to have a low glycemic index (GI) if it’s less than 55, a moderate GI if it’s between 56 and 69, and a high GI if it’s greater than 70 or higher. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement that determines how quickly food is metabolized and into the bloodstream.

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The fermentation process that is used to manufacture sourdough results in the production of organic acids such as lactic acid and acetic acid. These acids impede the absorption of starch in the digestive tract, which in turn results in a slower rise in blood sugar.

The glycemic index (GI) of sourdough bread is lower than that of bread produced using baker’s yeast, according to studies. For instance, the glycemic index (GI) of a 30-gram (g) serving of bread prepared with white wheat flour is 71, which is regarded to be high. On the other hand, the GI of a 30-g serving of sourdough bread is 54, which is considered to be low. When compared to bread baked with baker’s yeast, this indicates that sourdough may be a more suitable option for promoting appropriate regulation of blood sugar levels for individuals.

In a study that included 43 women with gestational diabetes and 38 pregnant women who did not have diabetes, the researchers discovered that after consuming refined white bread, the women experienced 45.5% greater insulin secretion and 9.6% higher post-meal blood sugar levels compared to when the women consumed the same amount of whole grain sourdough bread.

The findings of this study show that substituting sourdough for other prevalent forms of bread, such as white sandwich bread, may be beneficial for maintaining healthier management of blood sugar levels.

May be Easier to Digest 

Compared to commercially-leavened breads, sourdough is said to be simpler to stomach by a significant number of individuals. This occurs as a result of the fermentation process that sourdough goes through, which not only increases the digestibility of its proteins but also breaks down gluten, which is a group of proteins that are resistant to digestion and can be found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

Despite the fact that not everyone has a problem digesting gluten, individuals who suffer from gluten-related diseases, such as celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), have uncomfortable digestive symptoms after consuming goods that contain gluten.

Studies have shown that sourdough contains lower levels of gluten as well as lower levels of other compounds that are known to cause digestive issues in a large number of people. These compounds include fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) and anti-nutritional factors such as phytates, tannins, and trypsin inhibitors. These compounds have the potential to aggravate digestive symptoms in individuals who are susceptible to them, such as those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In comparison to commercially leavened bread, this indicates that sourdough may be simpler to digest and may cause fewer symptoms of gastrointestinal distress during consumption.

Despite the fact that sourdough may be simpler to digest and may cause fewer gastrointestinal issues in certain individuals, it is not necessarily the ideal option for everyone. This is especially true for individuals who suffer from celiac disease and are required to fully abstain from consuming any and all items that contain gluten.

A More Bioavailable Source of Nutrients 

Phytates, tannins, and trypsin inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional substances that can make it more difficult to incorporate nutrients into the body from the food we eat.

Particular minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and iron, are unable to be absorbed by the digestive tract because phytates, which are abundant in foods such as grains and legumes, bind to these minerals and prevent them from being absorbed.

The process of fermentation that is employed to manufacture sourdough is responsible for the breakdown of anti-nutritional substances like phytates. Particular formulations of sourdough have been shown in a number of experiments to be capable of degrading more than 96% of the phytic acid that is present in the dough.

Phytate-degrading enzymes and lactic acid bacteria are two examples of the chemicals that may be found in sourdough. These compounds have the capacity to lower anti-nutritional factors, which in turn improves the availability and absorption of certain micronutrients that are found in bread. These micronutrients include iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Nutritional Facts of Sourdough 

The nutritional value of sourdough bread is contingent upon the type of sourdough bread that is consumed as well as the sourdough bread’s ingredients. In comparison to sourdough prepared with white flour, for instance, sourdough made with whole grain flour contains a greater quantity of fiber as well as specific vitamins and minerals by comparison.

In comparison to bread prepared with unenriched flour, sourdough bread created with enriched flour, which is a type of flour that contains additional nutrients, will come with a higher concentration of B vitamins.

In the following is a breakdown of the nutritional content of a slice of enriched white flour sourdough that is 59 grams in size and of medium size:

  • Calories: 188
  • Carbs: 36.5 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 7.67 g
  • Fat: 1.26 g
  • Iron: 2.28 milligrams or 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 0.088 mg or 10% of the DV
  • Folate: 82.6 micrograms (mcg) or 21% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 0.252 mg or 21% of the DV
  • Niacin: 3.17 mg or 20% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 0.218 mg or 17% of the DV
  • Manganese: 0.33 mg or 14% of the DV
  • Selenium: 17.5 mcg or 32% of the DV
  • Zinc: 0.619 mg or 6% of the DV

Breads that are manufactured with enriched flour are excellent providers of B vitamins, including thiamine, which is essential for the metabolism of energy, growth, and the regulation of cellular function and development, as well as folate, which is a B vitamin that is necessary for the division of cells.

Folate is also responsible for regulating the levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid that, when it reaches an excessive level in the body, can lead to an increase in inflammation and oxidative stress. There is a correlation between having a high homocysteine level and an increased risk of a number of health issues, including heart disease.

Wheat flour contains a naturally high concentration of the mineral selenium, which acts as a potent antioxidant in the body. It shields cells from the oxidative damage that could otherwise result in disease.

Additionally, enriched wheat has iron added to it, which is a mineral that is necessary for the production of energy, the transportation of oxygen, and the synthesis of hormones. It is possible that the minerals that are found in sourdough, such as iron, are more easily absorbed by your body as compared to non-fermented breads. This is because sourdough contains fewer anti-nutrient molecules than non-fermented breads.

Not only does sourdough contain fiber, but it also contains natural prebiotics, which are fibers that are beneficial to the digestive system if consumed regularly. Taking sourdough as an example, it contains beta-glucan, which is a form of prebiotic fiber that is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine.

This fermentation results in the release of chemicals that are known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are beneficial to gut health because they provide a source of fuel for the cells that line your digestive tract, they regulate inflammation, they assist the creation of mucus, and they have other beneficial effects.

It is important to keep in mind that the nutritional content, which includes the levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, will differ based on the components used in the sourdough.

Risks of Eating Sourdough

Despite the fact that sourdough has a number of positive effects on one’s health, it is not the best option for everyone.

Despite the fact that sourdough includes a lower amount of gluten compared to other breads prepared with wheat flour, it is not gluten-free and hence is not suitable for individuals who suffer from celiac disease or who are sensitive to foods that contain gluten.

Consider purchasing a gluten-free sourdough product if you are unable to consume gluten but would still like to enjoy sourdough. In order to make gluten-free sourdough bread, gluten-free flours are utilized. Some examples of gluten-free flours include millet, sorghum, teff, quinoa, and buckwheat.

Because gluten imparts a chewy and airy texture to baked goods, it is important to keep in mind that sourdough that does not contain gluten will have a different texture than sourdoughs that are made with wheat flour.

Furthermore, because of its high carbohydrate content, sourdough is not suitable for individuals who are following extremely low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet.

Tips for Eating Sourdough

The crust of sourdough is crisp, while the texture of sourdough is chewy and airy. There are certain sourdough breads that have a more pronounced tangy flavor than others, which is a hallmark of this type of bread.

In addition to being great when combined with both sweet and savory components, sourdough may be consumed in a variety of different ways.

Here are some healthy ways to add sourdough into your diet:

  • If you are looking for a nutritious breakfast or lunch alternative, consider spreading mashed avocado on sourdough toast and topping it with kimchi, red pepper flakes, and a fried egg topping.
  • Use leftover sourdough to make croutons for salads.
  • Use sourdough for sweet dishes like French toast and bread pudding.
  • Swap regular bread for sourdough when making sandwiches and grilled cheese.
  • Serve hearty soups, stews, and curries with a side of toasted sourdough.
  • Toast thinly sliced sourdough and use it on cheese plates and veggie platters.

In addition to being sold in bakeries and farmer’s markets, sourdough can also be purchased online and at grocery shops. You can also make your own sourdough bread by purchasing sourdough starter or making your own at home. Both of these options are appropriate for making sourdough bread.

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In addition to being used in the preparation of classic sourdough bread, sourdough starter can also be utilized in the preparation of various dishes, such as pancakes, muffins, crackers, pizza crust, and pastries.

Conclusion

Bread that has a sour flavor is called sourdough, and it is produced by using yeasts and lactic acid bacteria that are found in nature.

Although the nutritional value of sourdough varies depending on the ingredients that are used, the majority of sourdough is a substantial source of a number of vitamins and minerals, including selenium and B vitamins.

Despite the fact that sourdough is a healthy option for the majority of people, individuals who have a need to avoid or restrict gluten, such as those who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, should steer clear of sourdough that is made using flours that contain gluten.

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