Sourdough bread is rising in popularity. This old favorite form of bread is considered healthier and better tasting than the traditional style of white bread. It is said to be easier to digest and does not have the same effect on your body’s blood sugar levels.
But when looking at the facts surrounding nutritional values is sourdough bread healthier than white bread?
What Makes a Sourdough Bread?
The form of sourdough bread was said to have originated back during the days of ancient Egypt and is still a form of bread leavening.
It was not replaced as a bread form until the baker’s yeast was discovered a couple of centuries ago. Leavened bread is one that has a dough, which rises during the process of making it from the gases created as the grains ferment.
Commercial baker’s yeast is used in traditional bread such as white or whole-wheat, but with sourdough bread, a ‘wild yeast’ is used.
Along with the wild yeast used in sourdough bread, there is also a form of bacteria called lactic acid. Both of these materials are naturally found in flour to cause the leavening process. This bacteria, lactic acid, is also found in other foods which are fermented such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickles, and yogurt.
To begin a recipe of sourdough bread, you start with what is called a ‘starter.’ A starter consists of the lactic acid, wild yeast, water, and some flour.
While you are making the bread, your starter will begin to ferment the sugar, which helps it to rise and give your sourdough bread its unique taste.
You can purchase sourdough bread at your local market. These store-bought versions are typically not made in the traditional method, so you are not getting all the health benefits of a conventional form of sourdough.
If you purchase a loaf at the farmer’s market or an artisan baker’s, you are then most likely getting a healthier, more traditional form of bread.
Nutritional Content of Sourdough Bread
The nutritional values of sourdough bread will depend on whether refined or whole-grain flour was used to make it.
Regardless of which flour was used; however, sourdough bread has a profile that resembles most of the other bread types.
One two-ounce (medium slice) of sourdough bread contains:
• About 160 calories
• 32 grams of carbs
• 12% of your recommended daily intake of iron
• Between 2 and 4 grams of fiber
• 14% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of niacin
• 6 grams of protein
• 14% of your RDI of manganese
• 2 grams of fat
• 16% of your RDI of sodium
• 22% of your RDI of selenium
• 20% of RDI of folate
There are other unique qualities of sourdough bread, which make its nutritional values surpass other forms of bread, such as the whole grains used to have an excellent amount of minerals. Other minerals found in sourdough that are important for your health are zinc, magnesium, phosphate, and potassium.
There have also been studies conducted on how the lactic acid found in sourdough bread has the capability of releasing antioxidants during its fermentation process.
This process increases the folate levels in the sourdough bread. With the longer fermentation time involved in making sourdough bread, the flavor and texture are improved over that of white bread.
This improvement may be a personal choice, but it does promote higher consumption of nutrients and fiber to make it healthier.
Sourdough Bread is Easier to Digest Than White Bread
The sourdough bread is made from wild yeast, while the white bread is made from a baker’s yeast, which is harder to digest. Research on the two forms of yeast shows the yeast used in sourdough bread has prebiotic and probiotic-like properties.
Probiotics are living microorganisms consumed when you eat fermented foods or supplements. These microorganisms promote a healthy balance of the bacteria found in your gut and have also been connected to other health benefits.
Prebiotics are substances found in different forms of carbs that your body cannot digest. The probiotics are needed to eat these substances.
When you consume these two substances regularly, you will ease your digestive process and the health of your gut. Another reason sourdough bread is easier on your system is the fermentation process degrades the gluten content more than a baker’s yeast will perform. Gluten causes digestive issues in many people who are allergic to it.
Gluten has become a significant concern to both children and adults in recent years. The increase in those who cannot tolerate gluten in their diet has sparked many producers of food products to find ways to eliminate this substance from food choices.
The intolerance levels vary from one person to the next, but sourdough bread containing lower gluten levels, makes it a healthier choice for those who have to monitor their gluten intake.
The fermentation process of sourdough bread does not degrade the gluten levels completely; it does reduce the amounts. Those who have celiac disease or have a high gluten intolerance should avoid sourdough bread made from rye, barley, or wheat.
Sourdough Bread has Better Effect on Blood Sugar Levels
Research has shown that sourdough bread has a better effect on blood sugar levels than other forms of bread. It is believed the fermentation process of this bread may change the structure of the carb molecules found in it.
With the change of carb molecules, the bread’s glycemic index is decreased, and it slows down the rate at which sugar enters your bloodstream. When a food has a lower glycemic index, it is not as likely to create a spike in your blood sugar levels.
A study was conducted to compare glucose level differences when people ate sourdough bread versus bread baked with baker’s yeast.
The results showed when eating sourdough bread; they had lower blood sugar readings than when they ate the bread made with the baker’s yeast.
The conclusion as to whether sourdough bread is healthier than white bread comes down to it being a great alternative to your traditional white loaf of bread.
It does have its nutritional values and is easier to digest, but often comes down to a preference in taste. This bread is definitely worth a try, especially if you are someone who monitors your blood sugar.