Let’s first start by answering what exactly is a Sourdough bread
A Sourdough bread consists of 3 main ingredients like Salt, Flour and a Sourdough starter. The starter is a fermented mix of flour and water that contains colonies of bacteria and yeast. In a sourdough bread, the starter acts like a rising agent. It’s different from a bread made using commercial yeast wherein it takes much longer to ferment fully.
Also most of the breads sold today are made from refined wheat, which has been stripped of most fibre and nutrients. Additionally the dough will have increased flavour due to the organic acids created as a byproduct of natural fermentation. It’s this process that gives the characteristic tangy or sour flavour that gives sourdough its name.
“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat” – Carmen McRae
The science behind why sourdough bread is better than your regular bread
The fermentation process that the sourdough starter goes through introduces a whole slew of nutritional benefits. The body absorbs more nutrients from bread. While bread of all types contains essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. However, we can’t easily absorb these nutrients due to the compounds called phytates or phytic acid that binds to them.
But, sourdough, unlike other breads, contains lactic acid. This lactic acid neutralises the levels of phytates because it lowers the pH of the bread. As a result, bread has a higher level of available minerals and upto 62% less phytic acid than the conventional bread. So, basically the fermentation process breaks down some of the gluten and that makes it more digestible than the average commercial loaf of bread made from standard baker’s yeast.
One more reason to prefer sourdough bread over your regular bread
Because the regular bread is low in fibre and protein, making the digestion rapid thereby leading to the blood sugar rising quickly. Also, after eating refined carbohydrates like the white bread, the surplus of sugar in your bloodstream, unless immediately utilized for an activity, tends to get stored as fat in the body. Plus, the blood-sugar crash will soon leave you hungry after ingesting, so you will reach for another snack.
5 health benefits from a sourdough bread
- Supports gut health – Although the beneficial microbes in the sourdough starter tend to get lost during the baking process,the fibre and plant compounds called polyphenols become more bio available. So, these act as an important fuel source for our gut microbes making bread a gut-friendly choice
- Aids blood sugar management – The prebiotics keep the gut bacteria happy and it may be less likely to spike blood sugar levels
- Reduces the risk of heart disease – Typically diets high in fibre, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease
- Easier to digest – Traditional sourdough bread undergoes a slow process of fermentation, the result of which is an increase in the bioavailability of the bread’s vitamins and minerals.This process also starts the breakdown of protein (including gluten), making sourdough easier to digest.
- More nutritious – Since sourdough bread contains lactic acid and not phytic acid (difficult to absorb) which neutralises the levels of phytates as it lowers the pH of the bread. As a result, sourdough bread has a higher level of available minerals and upto 62% less phytic acid than the conventional bread.