Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Savvy grocery shoppers know that options in the bread aisle continue to expand. Shelves that used to display white and wheat breads - with few other offerings - now have dozens of kinds when it comes to loaf sizes, flavors and textures. And you no longer have to go to specialty bakeries to snag well-made sourdough bread. With its unique flavor, sourdough has gained lots of carb-loving fans in recent years. It’s also got a lot of health benefits going for it.

What is sourdough bread?

Unlike a lot of standard commercially-made breads that use yeast as the sole rising agent for the dough, a true sourdough bread rises because of the gas that is naturally produced as the grain and other ingredients ferment. Many home bakers use a sourdough starter mix that they “feed” periodically to keep it expanding. They take some starter to use each time they make a batch of bread. It’s one of the oldest types of bread, and it recently saw a resurgence in interest by home bakers during the pandemic as more people took up the bread-making hobby. Baking supply stores sold out of sourdough starter and had to put their customers on wait lists for the popular item.

Health benefits of sourdough

While breads like whole wheat might have more overall fiber content, sourdough breads are known for their long list of health benefits. Sourdough is known for its higher antioxidant content as well as more easily absorbed vitamins and minerals. Let’s look at some of the specific benefits of sourdough bread:
More nutritious. Minerals like magnesium, zinc and potassium are present in all whole-grain breads, but they’re hard for the body to absorb from most breads because it’s blocked by the presence of phytic acid. However, sourdough bread’s fermentation means it’s naturally much lower in phytic acid. This allows the body to use more of the minerals and nutrients present in this kind of bread, studies show.
Higher antioxidant levels. The antioxidant levels offered by sourdough bread are typically higher than other types of bread. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage in your body, which may contribute to disease. Sourdough contains lactic acid bacteria. When this combines with the dough’s low pH level, it offers more of a healthy antioxidant punch, research has shown.
Prevents blood sugar spikes. Fermented breads like sourdough have been shown to help keep blood sugar levels steadier after eating them. Research has shown the fermentation may lower the bread’s glycemic index, potentially slowing the speed of which sugar enters the blood stream after eating sourdough, compared to other breads.
Whether you go all in and use your own sourdough starter, or just select your favorite sourdough loaf from your local grocery store or bakery, all these added health benefits mean slices of sourdough definitely deserve a place at your table.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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