Sourdough bread is an old favorite that has recently risen in popularity.
Many people consider it to be tastier and healthier than conventional bread. Some even say that it’s easier to digest and less likely to spike your blood sugar.
But is there any truth to these claims? This article takes a close look at the evidence.
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 customary form of bread leavening until baker’s yeast replaced it a few centuries ago (1).
A leavened bread is a bread whose dough rises during the bread-making process, usually as a result of gas being produced as the grain ferments.
Most leavened breads use commercial baker’s yeast to help the dough rise. However, traditional sourdough fermentation relies on “wild yeast” and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour to leaven the bread.
Wild yeast is more resistant to acidic conditions than baker’s yeast. This is what allows it to work together with lactic acid-producing bacteria to help the dough rise.
The mix of wild yeast, lactic acid bacteria, flour and water used to make sourdough bread is called a “starter.” During the bread-making process, the starter ferments the sugars in the dough, helping the bread rise and acquire its characteristic taste.
Sourdough bread takes much longer to ferment and rise than other types of bread, which is what creates its particular texture.
To this day, making sourdough bread remains popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, as well as in the San Francisco Bay region of the US.
Summary: Sourdough is an old form of bread leavening. It relies on a mix of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour, rather than baker’s yeast, to leaven the dough.
The nutrition composition of sourdough bread depends on the type of flour used to make it — whether it’s whole grain or refined.
Nevertheless, sourdough’s nutrition profile resembles that of most other breads.
On average, one medium slice weighing approximately 2 ounces (56 g) contains (2):
- Calories: 162 calories
- Carbs: 32 grams
- Fiber: 2–4 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Selenium: 22% of the RDI
- Folate: 20% of the RDI
- Thiamin: 16% of the RDI
- Sodium: 16% of the RDI
- Manganese: 14% of the RDI
- Niacin: 14% of the RDI
- Iron: 12% of the RDI
In addition, sourdough has some special properties that allow it to surpass the nutrition profile of most other types of bread, which is discussed in the next chapter.
Summary: Sourdough’s basic nutrition profile resembles that of other breads, but it has a few special properties that make it more nutritious.
It’s More Nutritious Than Regular Bread
Although sourdough bread is often made from the same flour as other types of bread, the fermentation process improves its nutrition profile in several ways.
Unfortunately, the absorption of these minerals is limited by the presence of phytic acid, which is commonly referred to as phytate.
Interestingly, 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 types of bread (4).
One study showed that sourdough fermentation may reduce the phytate content of bread by 24–50% more than conventional yeast fermentation (5).
Lower phytate levels increase mineral absorption, which is one of the ways in which sourdough bread is more nutritious than conventional bread.
Sourdough fermentation also increases folate levels in the bread, although levels of certain nutrients like vitamin E may be slightly reduced in the process (3).
Finally, sourdough’s longer fermentation time helps improve the flavor and texture of whole grain bread. This may make people more likely to opt for a whole grain bread, thereby promoting a higher consumption of fiber and nutrient-rich breads (4).
Summary: Sourdough bread contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants than other breads. Also, its lower phytate levels allow your body to absorb the nutrients it contains more easily.
It’s Easier to Digest and Often Safe for People With Gluten Intolerance
Sourdough bread is often easier to digest than bread that’s fermented with brewer’s yeast.
Researchers believe this could partly be due to sourdough bread’s prebiotic content and probiotic-like properties (1).
Regularly consuming both may help improve your gut health, easing digestion (9).
Sourdough fermentation may also help improve digestion by degrading gluten to a greater extent than baker’s yeast (10).
Gluten tolerance varies from person to person. Some have no visible issues digesting gluten, whereas it can cause stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation in others (11).
Sourdough bread’s lower gluten content may make it easier to digest, especially for individuals sensitive to gluten.
This makes gluten-free sourdough bread an interesting alternative for those needing to avoid all gluten, such as those with celiac disease.
Summary: Sourdough bread contains lower amounts of gluten, making it easier to digest for people with gluten intolerance. Its prebiotic and probiotic-like properties may further improve digestion.
It May Be Better for Blood Sugar Control
Sourdough bread may have a better effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than other types of bread, though the reason for this isn’t yet fully understood.
Researchers believe that sourdough fermentation may modify the structure of carb molecules. This reduces the bread’s glycemic index (GI) and slows down the speed at which sugars enter the bloodstream (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
The GI is a measure of how a food affects blood sugar. Foods with a lower GI are less likely to produce a spike in blood sugar levels.
In addition, the lactic acid bacteria found in the dough produce organic acids during fermentation. Some researchers believe these acids may help delay stomach emptying and prevent a spike in blood sugar in a way similar to vinegar (4, 17).
The sourdough fermentation process is often used to make rye breads, as rye does not contain enough gluten for baker’s yeast to work effectively (1).
One study showed that participants who consumed rye bread had a lower spike in insulin levels than those given the same amount of conventional wheat bread (18).
In addition, several other studies compared participants’ glucose response after eating sourdough bread and bread fermented with baker’s yeast.
Summary: Sourdough fermentation produces changes in the bread that may allow for better blood sugar control and improved insulin sensitivity.
How to Make Sourdough Bread
Fresh sourdough bread can be made at home from three simple ingredients — water, flour and salt.
Here is a quick overview of the steps required:
- Make a sourdough starter. You can learn about making one in this video.
- Feed your starter daily and let it grow for a few days. You will use part of this starter to make the bread and save the rest for future use.
- Mix part of your starter with flour and water and allow this mixture to rest for a few hours. Then add salt.
- Fold the dough a few times before letting it rest again for approximately 10–30 minutes. Repeat the folding and resting steps a few times until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy.
- On the final rest, let the dough rise at room temperature until it grows to about 1.5 times its original volume.
- Shape your bread loaf and bake it in a Dutch oven.
- Allow bread to cool on a rack for 2–3 hours before slicing it.
For a complete video about how to use your starter to make a loaf of bread, check out this video.
Keep in mind that making your sourdough starter will take approximately 3–5 days. Do not rush this process, as the quality of your starter is what will give your dough a good flavor and help it rise.
Also, note that you will only use part of the starter to make the bread. You can save the rest for future use as long as you refrigerate it and “feed it” at least once a week.
When you’re ready to make another loaf, simply take your starter out of the fridge 1–3 days ahead of time and feed it once a day until it strengthens again.
Here are a few more sourdough bread recipes:
- Basic Sourdough Bread
- Artisan Whole Grain Sourdough
- 12-Grain Raisin Sourdough
- Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Summary: Follow the steps above to make your sourdough starter and first loaf of bread. There are many more recipes available, as well.
The Bottom Line
Sourdough bread is a great alternative to conventional bread. Its lower gluten and phytate levels make it more nutritious and easier to digest.
Sourdough bread also seems less likely to spike your blood sugar levels, which makes it an option for those monitoring their blood sugar.
All things considered, it’s worth giving it a try.
Just remember that sourdough bread can be made from virtually any type of flour, so opt for a whole grain variety.
Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation
Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.
In fact, in a fairly short amount of time, you could start to experience better sleep…less stomach issues…more energy and stamina…less muscle and joint pain…a drop in weight…lower stress levels…and much, much more!
Learn how to Prevent—Even Reverse—Most Major Diseases by “Turning Off” Inflammation!
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!
...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.
Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.
Use them anytime, anywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.
Plus the results are permanent!
Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!
--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)
Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.