Is Sourdough Bread Good for You?
Regardless if you just started making your own sourdough and are curious to find out about its nutrition, or looking for healthier alternatives to traditional yeast bread, this article will help you get the answers.
Bread is an essential food for many people. Personally, I don't think I have ever gone a day in my life without eating it. Yes, my love for bread is REAL! So, naturally, I started baking it. First, I tried different recipes of traditional yeast bread because it's easier and faster. However, I wasn't really impressed with the taste, and when the bread was still hot, I could smell the yeast, which is not my favorite smell. Therefore, I advanced myself to the next level of bread baking and started experimenting with sourdough. It took me a while to learn, but the result was worth it. Click here to read about how I did it and get my Beginner Sourdough Bread Recipe. Contrary to yeast bread, I noticed that while baking sourdough, the kitchen smelled like an artisan bakery, and the taste of the bread was full of flavor. But are there any other benefits?
Apart from the benefit number one, which is being in control of making your own bread without different preservatives, additives, and stabilizers and knowing exactly what goes in it, it turns out there are a lot of health benefits of eating sourdough bread.
I first became interested in it after noticing that my digestion has improved, and I don't get stomach bloating anymore. Of course, I wanted to find out why and if home-baked sourdough bread may be the reason. I started my research by learning about the sourdough making process.
How is Sourdough Bread Made?
Only 4 ingredients are involved in making this delicious variety of bread: flour, water, salt, and sourdough starter, the latter being the most important one. This is what is going to leaven the bread. It takes 7 to 10 days to make the starter, creating a plethora of good bacteria at the same time through the fermentation process. First, equal parts of flour and water are mixed and left to ferment, refreshing the mixture once every 24 hours until it starts doubling in size at the six-hour mark. To make the dough, water, flour, and salt are added and left again to ferment for a few hours, combined with stretching and folding the dough in order to develop gluten. Next, it's shaped and left to proof in a banneton proofing basket either at room temperature or in the fridge.
So, Why is Sourdough Bread healthy?
As I discovered, the secret is in the fermentation process. Wild yeast, enzymes, and lactic acid bacteria created during the fermentation stage break down some of the carbohydrates (fructans) and gluten-forming proteins found in flour and, thus, help improve digestion. While it doesn't make the bread gluten-free, it significantly reduces the amount of gluten, making it easier on the digestive system.
Lactic acid bacteria also neutralizes phytic acid in wheat, responsible for blocking nutrient absorption, and makes the absorption a lot better. This becomes extra useful since sourdough is very vitamin and mineral-rich. According to Healthline, it contains Selenium, Folate, Thiamin, Sodium, Manganese, Niacin, and Iron in 12-22% of RDI.
Besides aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption, sourdough bread also keeps you fuller longer due to higher amounts of soluble fiber and resistant starch created during fermentation. Since they can't be broken down and absorbed by the digestive system, they slow down the digestion and increase the feeling of satiety. This may be beneficial in weight loss to help control appetite and calorie intake, especially if you are using whole wheat flour, which is lower in calories and higher in protein and fiber than white flour.
Another benefit of sourdough bread is its low glycemic index, i.e., the rate at which glucose is released into the bloodstream, which is important for people concerned about their blood sugar levels. As a low GI food, sourdough bread provides steady energy, which helps avoid afternoon energy slump and increases concentration. It is a perfect snack before a workout for better performance and greater endurance. As a fitness fanatic, I completely agree.
On top of all of these amazing health benefits, there are a few practical benefits as well.
For example, sourdough bread stays fresh much longer than the traditional bread made with instant yeast. Due to its natural acidity, it can fight the bad bacteria and keep the mold at bay longer. You can easily keep it on the counter for a week in a zip-lock bag. I like to make a breakfast sandwich with it every morning, toasting it in a frying pan with butter. I love it so much that I think about it before going to bed and can't wait to wake up to eat it!
One more practical advantage of making your own sourdough bread is that it can also save you money - it costs less than $2 to make 2 loaves compared with store-bought bread prices at about $3-4 per loaf. So, besides eating the healthiest and most delicious bread, you will be saving $4-6 per week and $192-288 per year if your family uses 2 loaves a week. Personally, I can think of a lot of ways to use the extra money!
So, are you in love with sourdough yet? It smells and tastes amazing, stays fresh, and helps you save money, but most importantly, it is the healthiest choice of bread for you and your family! Check out my recipes to discover different kinds of sourdough bread, learn how to make a Sourdough Starter, and use it in other baked goods - you'll be amazed how versatile it is.
Tools for Sourdough Bread Baking: