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  • Writer's pictureHelen

Benefits of eating Sourdough Bread

This week I was having a chat with a vegetarian friend who is sensitive to gluten. She has swapped her usual loaves for sourdough bread and has really noticed a difference.

I have been eating sourdough bread occasionally for the last few years and decided as it's "Sourdough September" to really look at the benefits of eating this fermented food and see why it is better for your gut.

Sourdough is a culture of yeasts and beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in bread flour and dough. The yeasts are more varied and less concentrated than baker’s yeast, so they raise the dough more slowly. The lactic acid bacteria (LAB) also require many hours of fermentation to work their wonders.

The acids slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the bread's glycaemic index (GI), so it doesn't cause undesirable spikes in insulin. They also render the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.

Bread, especially if made with unrefined flour, is a significant source of dietary minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. But often the contents of bread pass straight through the body without being absorbed. The main culprit is phytic acid, which is present in the bran layers of cereals, which ‘locks up’ the important minerals. Sourdough, through its fermentation process, neutralises the phytic acid and so makes the minerals more bioavailable.

LAB produce beneficial compounds: antioxidants, the cancer-preventive peptide lunasin, and anti-allergenic substances, some of which may help in the treatment of auto-immune diseases. These by-products seem able to survive heating, suggesting that baked sourdough bread may have ‘probiotic’ potential by stimulating immune responses in the gut.

All in all sourdough bread, although more expensive than your usual wheat loaf, has some real health benefits. If you buy from an artisan bakers you can usually get an organic loaf too (also better for you).


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