While sourdough bread may be more popular than it has been in a long time, have you ever wondered: Why is sourdough bread good for you? It is useful to compare the bread of yesteryear to that which we have become accustomed to buying at the bakery.

For centuries, bread was made with only three ingredients: flour, water and salt. Today, commercial breads that you find on the market may contain a dozen or more ingredients. It is therefore not surprising that a high percentage of people report having difficulty digesting modern bread.

Originally, the method of making bread was to slowly ferment flour with water to create “sourdough”, an alternative to baker’s yeast that naturally leavens bread and gives sourdough bread its characteristic taste. Sourdough bread stands out not only for its flavor, but also for its nutritional benefits.

Why is sourdough bread good for you? Read on to find out why fermenting grains results in an easier-to-digest product, and how sourdough bread can give you more digestible nutrients, such as selenium, B vitamins, folate and more.

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough bread is bread made by fermenting dough. Compared to almost all other breads, what is different about sourdough bread?
True sourdough bread is made from fermented sourdough, rather than yeast. It also has lower gluten content, lower antinutrient content, and lower pH than regular bread. Sourdough is also often described as having more flavor and complexity and better texture than leavened breads.

When the flour and water are left at room temperature for at least several days, natural bacteria (like lactobacilli) and yeast begin to ferment the dough and produce lactic acid. It is lactic acid that gives bread its slightly sour but pleasant taste. Flour naturally contains a variety of yeasts and bacterial spores. When combined with room temperature water, bacteria break down wheat starch into sugars (glucose and maltose), which yeast then metabolizes.

Maltose is one of the by-products of bacterial fermentation that yeasts feed on, and in doing so they produce carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to rise.

Some of the oldest sourdough breads are thought to date back to at least 3700 BCE, in the Fertile Crescent region, although historians aren’t sure exactly when people first started fermenting the grains. Bread production has relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history, the use of baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back less than 150 years.

Is sourdough the same as Ezekiel bread?

No, although the two have a number of points in common. Ezekiel bread is a sprouted grain bread, made from whole grains and usually without yeast. Sprouting cereals lowers levels of enzyme inhibitors and releases nutrients to be more easily absorbed, much like fermentation does. However, sourdough bread takes longer to prepare and is usually not made with sprouted flour. Overall, the two are comparable in terms of nutrient content. This is why they are among the healthiest breads.

Sourdough Bread Nutrition Facts (Plus Ingredients)

Why is sourdough bread good for your health? Much of this comes down to the nutrition of sourdough bread.

The exact nutritional content of sourdough bread depends on the ingredients used (different types of flours/seeds added/oil) and how it is prepared. In general, however, it contains a decent amount of:

Although wheat flour, water, and salt are all you need to make sourdough, other ingredients are sometimes added, including:

wheat bran
apple cider vinegar
olive oil
aromatic herbs, such as rosemary
As you can see, what makes this bread unique is the presence of yeast and bacteria species, which also vary depending on the way the sourdough is made.

The most common yeast species found in sourdough are:

Kazachstania exigua (Saccharomyces exigua)
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Candida milleri
Candida humilis

Lactic acid bacteria strains found in this type of bread can include:

Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis
L. pontis
L. fermentum
L. fructivorans
L. brevis
L. paralimentarius

Why is sourdough bread good for you?

Research tells us that due to its unique method of preparation, here are some benefits of sourdough bread:

1. It may be easier to digest due to its low gluten/antinutrient content.

There is reason to believe that in people sensitive to gluten (but not celiac disease), sourdough bread may be more digestible than commercial breads made with processed wheat flour.
The fermentation process increases the acidic conditions in the sourdough and helps produce enzymes that partially break down proteins, including gluten. This results in lower overall gluten content and decreased levels of phytates/phytic acids and other “antinutrients” that can interfere with nutrient absorption and digestion.

2. A lower glycemic index

Studies have shown that sourdough breads made from whole grains have a slightly lower glycemic index than other types of bread, especially highly processed breads made from white flour.
Wholemeal sourdough breads made from whole wheat flour, rye and other cereals are recommended for people following a Mediterranean diet, because of their satiating dietary fiber content.

Is sourdough bread good for weight loss?

This of course depends on how much you consume, but it is possible if it helps to fill you up and if consumed as part of a balanced diet. In fact, some studies have shown that sourdough bread tends to lead to greater satiety (fullness) compared to other breads, possibly due to its digestibility and absorption of protein and carbohydrates.

3. May be a good source of fiber, nutrients and protein

Wholegrain sourdough is considered a fiber-rich food and a good source of essential nutrients like selenium, folate, thiamin, manganese, niacin, and iron. While some of these nutrients can be difficult to absorb from grains that have not been soaked, sprouted or fermented, studies suggest that they are generally easier to absorb from sourdough due to the way from which it is prepared, just like the amino acids of the sourdough which form the proteins. Getting more of these essential nutrients from your diet is important to support functions like red blood cell production, energy metabolism, immune system activation, and more.

How to make your own sourdough

How to make sourdough bread from scratch? First, you need to craft or find sourdough starter.

Remember that sourdough bread recipes do not use yeast. A starter (or leavening agent) is therefore essential to help your bread rise and provide it with some of its nutritional benefits.

Sourdough is also sometimes called preferment, and it is made simply by combining flour and water. When left to ferment, it transforms into a colony of microorganisms, including wild yeast and lactobacilli. This process typically takes between five and ten days, depending on the method, temperature, and desired degree of acidity for the bread when baked.

To keep your sourdough “alive” and active, you need to refresh it by adding flour and water throughout the process. Once the sourdough is stable, you can store it in your fridge and feed it periodically, about once or twice a week.

What is the best sourdough bread in the world?

There are actually dozens of different ways to make sourdough bread, depending on the equipment you have, the time you want to invest, and how demanding you are with the finished product.
One of the main differences between sourdough recipes is whether or not the bread is kneaded. Another thing to consider is the timing you follow to allow the bread to rise.

Here is the basic process for making your own sourdough bread from scratch:

You want your sourdough to be bubbling and active before making bread, so feed it four to twelve hours before mixing it with the flour and water.

Mix your ingredients thoroughly, then let the dough rest for it to thicken.

You may need to knead or shape your dough one to three more times before it’s ready (although no-knead options are also available). The dough is then shaped into a loaf and baked for about an hour.

For home bakers, it is often recommended to bake the bread in a Dutch oven, usually with the lid on the bread for a while to steam it, then without the lid to crisp it up.

If you’re a beginner, an easy way to make sourdough from scratch is to choose an essentially no-knead bread recipe and let it “mass rise” overnight. This means that you prepare the ingredients at night and the bread rises while you sleep, so it’s ready to be baked when you wake up.

If overnight rising and little kneading sounds appealing to you, try this sourdough bread recipe:

Mix the flours you use, such as whole wheat flour and regular bread flour, with salt. Use about 520 grams of flour and a teaspoon of salt. It is recommended to weigh your ingredients for best results: 520 grams of flour is roughly equivalent to 4 cups.

Mix 90 grams of your sourdough (just over 1/2 cup) with 385 grams of water (about 2.25 cups). Then pour the wet ingredients into your bowl with the flour, and mix with your hands or a spoon to incorporate them completely.

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Then stretch it a little in the bowl. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest on the kitchen counter overnight, for 9 to 12 hours.

Once it has rested, in the morning stretch, fold and shape the dough. Let it rest for another hour, and preheat the oven to 230°C. Line your oven with parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking. (Do not use oil or butter.) Place your loaf in the hood oven, then “score” the loaf by cutting a large slit in the top about an inch deep and several inches long.
Leave the lid on for the first 20 minutes, then remove it and cook for another 30-35 minutes. Let the bread cool for an hour, then eat it!

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.