Health Benefits of Sourdough

The wild fermentation of flour and water produces a form of bacteria that acts like yeast and gives sourdough its fantastic flavour. The increased popularity of sourdough is not just due to its delicious tangy flavour. The ancient process also gives the bread a unique texture, with chewy crust and moist, aerated centre. The bacteria created in fermentation also gives your loaf a longer shelf life – a good sourdough can last up to 10 days.

Here are the main health benefits of sourdough:

Increase in beneficial lactic acid 
Sourdough bread contains the bacteria Lactobacillus in a higher proportion to yeast than other breads. More Lactobacillus means higher production of lactic acid, which means less of the potentially dangerous phytic acid. And what does that mean? More mineral availability and easier digestion! The longer rise time needed for sourdough increases the lactic acid and creates an ideal pH for the enzyme phytase. 

Predigestion of starches 
The bacteria and yeast in the sourdough culture work to predigest the starches in the grains, thus making it more easily digestible when you eat it. Predigestion by sourdough = less digestion for you. Sourdough often has a lower glycemic index than that of other breads – meaning, it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically. This is because it depletes damaged starches within it, simply by its fermentative nature. The bacteria also control yeast population in the gut, so yeast overgrowth and infection is less likely to occur.

Breakdown of gluten
The longer soaking and rising times in the preparation of sourdough breaks the protein gluten into amino acids, making it more digestible. Sourdough preparation is more lengthy (soaking, rinsing, etc.), and this longer prep time results in the protein gluten being broken down into amino acids. Again, this translates to easier and more pleasant digestion.

The acetic acid which is produced along with lactic acid in the fermentation process, helps preserve the bread by inhibiting the growth of mould. So, sourdough naturally preserves itself. 

Better blood glucose regulation
There has been some research suggesting that sourdough bread showed positive physiological responses. The subjects’ blood glucose levels were lower after eating sourdough white bread compared to whole wheat, whole wheat with barley and plain white bread. Interestingly, the subjects tested after eating whole wheat bread fared the worse — with spiking blood glucose levels.

Additional Nutrients
The integrity of sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients. In sourdough, you can find vitamins B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium – in addition to uniquely balanced proteins and fatty acids.

This is in contrast to most commercially produced breads, which maintain only a fraction of their original nutrient content after all the processing they undergo.