When I was a kid, someone told me that sourdough bread was made from an old piece of dough that had been around for thousands of years. Needless to say, I avoided sourdough bread for years until I learned how it was really made.
Sourdough bread starts with a live fermented culture of flour and water (called a “starter”) that must be fed regularly to stay alive, just like a pet. The naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria in the starter act as a leavening agent, which is why sourdough does not require commercial yeast to rise.
Sourdough bread gets its unique taste from the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process. Lactic acid releases antioxidants, which help slow damage to cells caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Sourdough bread also contains prebiotics, which are non-digestible fibers that nourishes the helpful bacteria living in your gut.
In addition, the fermentation process breaks down protein, gluten, and phytate (an “anti-nutrient” that reduces your body’s ability to absorb minerals). Studies suggest sourdough breads have a phytate content that is between 24% and 50% lower than other breads.
Studies suggest sourdough bread has a better effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than other breads, although the reason for this is not fully understood.
In conclusion, sourdough does not rely on baker’s yeast to rise, it includes less gluten and phytate, it is easier to digest and absorb, and it won’t harm blood sugar levels like other breads.
There’s absolutely no reason not to start eating it!
When shopping for sourdough, choose a whole wheat variety and keep in mind that some store-bought loaves are not produced using the traditional fermentation process and thus do not contain the same health benefits.