If you opened the internet between now and 2020, you no doubt have seen that sourdough is said to be healthier than its non-sourdough counterparts. But is it really healthier?
The short answer? Yes, but it depends! We've examined where sourdough bread comes from, why bread has gotten a bad wrap (and most carbs for that matter) and how fermentation is used to make the highest quality breads for our bodies.
We've kept the scope of this article to sourdough bread, but sourdough truly knows no bounds. Whether we are talking breads, pasta, pastries and beyond, sourdough is a superpower that can be used to create some of the most delicious baked goods you have ever eaten that also happen to be healthier than their non-sourdough versions.
Please note, these are our opinions. We are not doctors or health practitioners, but we know how our bodies feel and sourdough and us are good friends.
Where does sourdough come from?
Baking sourdough bread is an ancient art. It is a simple bread made of flour, water, and salt, although we do get into enriched doughs as well. Through fermentation, sourdough is a bread high in flavour, while low in gluten and free of phytic acid. It is a "pre-digested" food due to the magical properties of "wild yeast”.
Sourdough is a very simple thing. It is derived from the wild yeast that is literally everywhere - in the air, on the surface of the fruit, fruit trees, leaves, in your bag of flour, literally everywhere!
In the sourdough baking process, we simply capture this yeast and tame it - like any PET. Learning to bake with sourdough is a process that cares for this wild yeast, which then rewards us with delicious and healthy breads, buns, pastries and more. The sky is the limit with sourdough.
Is bread bad?
Bread has gotten a bad rap over the last few decades. More and more people are sensitive to gluten, and commercial yeasts and generally, feel "lousy" after eating bread. This is due to a combination of things, and for "keep it simple" terms, we chalk it up to:
Rushing the food preparation process.
Not treating our food and ingredients in the way they were intended.
Although our ingredients are not the same today as they were centuries ago (from a nutritional standpoint), if we use the traditional, time-honoured methods of preparation, we are able to create beautiful, flavourful and healthy bread today!
Does fermentation make sourdough healthier?
The beneficial bacteria, lactobacillus, pre-digests complex carbohydrates into more digestible simple sugars and breaks down protein into amino acids. This process releases nutrients into the dough. As well, phytic acid, which leads to poor absorption of nutrients, is completely eliminated in the fermentation process we teach.
Lactobacillus in the sourdough culture, makes eating good quality sourdough bread an aid to digestion. This beneficial bacteria also helps to control candida albicans, whereas commercial baker’s yeast is a pro-candida organism.
Reduces Gluten Levels
In 2010, a small study in Italy experimented with celiac patients in a 3-part study. This study experimented with: #1 - Regular bread, #2 - partially fermented sourdough bread and #3 - long-fermented sourdough bread (like we teach). In the first group, gluten levels were detected over 89,000 ppm (parts per million), and patients did not do well. In the second group, gluten levels were reduced below 30,000 ppm, which is still not acceptable to a celiac or gluten-sensitive patient. In the third group, through a long sourdough fermentation process, gluten was nearly eliminated to a very acceptable rating of 8-ppm. *Worth noting, the level most gluten-sensitive or celiac people can handle is below 20 ppm or less. THIS FACT is what got me started in sourdough and keeps me excited every time I meet or teach someone who previously could not enjoy good quality, fabulous flavoured breads and pastries. However, if you have celiac disease, please consult a doctor or learn to make sourdough without the use of wheat flours.
Lower on the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index of sourdough bread is 54 compared to 71 for non-sourdough white bread, making sourdough bread a low GI food. A low-GI ranking indicates that sourdough is digested and absorbed more slowly by the body which produces a more gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. This has been proven to provide many health benefits for medical conditions such as diabetes while also assisting in weight control by improving appetite control and delaying hunger.
Lasts Longer and is Inexpensive to Make
Sourdough has an extended shelf life compared with other breads due to the acid present in the starter culture. It improves not only the taste, smell and texture, but it also delays staleness and prevents mold. These factors allow for a a superior loaf in both taste and quality. Plus, baking your own sourdough bread literally costs pennies on the dollar using the highest quality organic ingredients we use and sell.
WARNING: once you have mastered baking your own sourdough bread, you will find it very difficult to go back to commercial bread. The smell, flavour and pride in making it yourself is incredible!