Sourdough bread has the bread ferment for a while with naturally occurring yeast and lactobacilli. This gives the bread its namesake sour taste. It also means the bread keeps longer, thanks to the lactic acid created by the lactobacilli.
Sourdough bread is made by missing a lactobacillus culture with the yeast, then adding it to the dough. This process goes back at least six thousand years. For comparison, baker’s yeast has only been used for around 150 years.
Traditionally, some of the dough from the sour dough loaf was kept for use the next day while the rest was baked into bread.
While baker’s yeast has become the predominant leavening agent for bread, sourdough remains popular. Some continue to eat it because it is traditional.
It is the main leavening agent for rye bread because rye bread doesn’t have enough gluten to be made into yeast bread. Others eat it for the health benefits.
What Are the Benefits Of Sourdough Bread For Diabetics?
It is not uncommon to be told that bread is off-limits if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. If you ditch bread, you don’t have to worry about counting sugar and carbs if you aren’t eating such a carb-heavy food.
However, bread remains one of the literal staples of our diet. The solution for many is to switch to healthier breads like sourdough bread.
A side benefit of picking up sourdough bread is that you don’t make a mistake with your sugar intake. Diabetics may be advised to eat whole wheat bread, but there are many fake whole grain breads.
They may only be 20 percent whole grain and even dyed brown to appear to have more fiber than they really do. In the worst case scenario, you’re picking up rye with added molasses that has more sugar than white bread. That makes sourdough bread a safer choice.
A second major benefit of sourdough bread is due to the acetic acid produced by the fermentation of the bread. Acetic acid is the main ingredient in vinegar.
This chemical is good for lowering blood sugar. Better yet, sourdough bread tastes far better than a spoonful of vinegar. Lactic acid itself provides a number of antioxidant benefits.
More importantly, the lactic acid in the bread has been shown to not only lower your blood sugar but keep the glucose levels low into the next meal. Swings in one’s blood sugar levels are damaging in and of themselves.
What Are the General Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread?
One side benefit of sourdough bread is that it is typically easier to digest than conventional white bread. Some belief it is due to the prebiotic content of the bread, something that’s lacking in bread fermented with yeast.
It is far easier to digest than other high-fiber, whole grain breads. What is less clear is whether or not the probiotic cultures increase mineral and vitamin absorption after you eat the bread.
Sourdough bread is similar to white bread in terms of mineral content, vitamins and protein. One slice provides 15 percent of your iron needs, 2 percent of your calcium and potassium, one gram of sugar and around seven grams of protein. It is a better source of selenium that commercial white bread.
You get roughly a fifth of your daily requirements from a single slice. It is a superior source of B-vitamins. It is an excellent source of folate and thiamin, delivering nearly a fifth of your needs.
One slice contains as much protein as an egg.
Because of the probiotics that make sourdough bread naturally last longer, sourdough bread tends to be free of preservatives and other chemicals added to commercial bread.
It also tends to be free of oils and sugars that some think are unhealthy. If you’re diabetic, the sugars definitely are bad for you.
There are conflicting studies as to whether or sourdough bread improves overall gut health.
What has been shown is that consumption of low glycemic index bread can delay the development of diabetes in insulin resistant people.
What are the advantages to eating sourdough bread over other diabetic-friendly breads?
Sprouted grain bread has an even lower glycemic index and carb count than sourdough bread. However, there are several strikes against it. One is the heavy texture. Another is the taste; it is unfamiliar to many people. Yet another consideration is the price.
Sprouting grain is an additional processing step that most grain producers won’t take. You can find Ezekiel bread and other sprouted grain breads in the organic or health foods section, but depending on where you live, it may only be available at the health food store.
The same is true of spelt bread, an old wheat species that has a low glycemic index.
In comparison, real sourdough bread is found in almost every bread aisle. Its widespread consumption means it is cheaper than sprouted grain bread. You’ll also be able to order a variety of classic sandwiches made with sourdough bread.
Who shouldn’t be eating sourdough bread?
Sourdough bread may have less gluten than other types of bread, but it is not gluten free.
This means it won’t irritate your system as badly as other types of bread if you have gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. However, if you have these conditions, you shouldn’t be eating sourdough bread.
Interestingly, sourdough contains fructans, a carbohydrate that can cause issues like gluten. This means that a few people who can eat gluten-heavy bread may react to sourdough.
However, a fair number of people self-diagnosed with gluten sensitivity may actually be reacting to fructan. In these cases, sourdough is actually the better choice, since the fermentation process breaks down more fructan in sourdough than any other bread-making process.
How do you make sourdough bread?
Sourdough bread making generally starts with a “starter”. That is a mix of flour, water, wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Wild yeast is more tolerant of acidic environments than baker’s yeast.
This starter is mixed with the dough. The yeast and lactic acid help the bread to rise while giving it the characteristic “sour” taste. However, sourdough bread needs much more time to ferment, so it requires much more time to rise.
This gives sourdough bread its unusual texture. Some commercial sourdough bread makers use shortcuts to speed things up; know that this reduces the sourdough bread’s health benefits.