We are way past the sourdough pandemic craze, I know. But if you’re either A) curious what all the craze was about, B) wondering what the health benefits are, or C) have an annoying friend who is still singing the praises of sourdough on the daily—sorry, not sorry—then maybe you should give it a go. Or another go, in case you’re one of the many who gave it a shot in 2020.
I’m quite annoying when it comes to sourdough bread. I actually grew my sourdough starter before the baking craze hit, and successfully created June (my starter) in January 2020. By March 2020 I was deep in the trenches of learning how to make the perfect sourdough loaf, and I admit, it did take me a while to get there. But once I finally nailed it, oh man, was it worth it. Now it’s a regular routine of making loaves of sourdough for our home, to the point where we honestly don’t buy any other kind of bread anymore. Unless the recipe calls for it, of course.
Besides the rewarding feeling you get cultivating a sourdough starter, or the comforting joy of pulling a fresh loaf out of the oven, sourdough bread actually has a surprising number of benefits to consider. So If you’ve ever wondered if there’s even a point to baking sourdough bread versus other kinds of bread, I’ve got you.
Sourdough is lower on the glycemic index.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measuring tool for understanding how quickly food can make your blood sugar rise, while the glycemic load (GL) looks at how that particular food will affect your blood sugar. While measuring blood sugar levels is discussed frequently for people with type 2 diabetes, it’s also an important measurement when it comes to understanding how food digests in the body. Managing blood sugar levels helps with regulating your satiety, meaning if you’re having less blood sugar spikes, you’ll continue to feel full for longer periods of time.
It’s also important to understand the glycemic load (GL) which looks at how a particular food will affect your blood sugar. So although food can have a higher GI, if it consists of complex carbohydrates (versus simple carbohydrates, like a cupcake), because of the way it digests, it won’t raise your blood sugar as much, giving it a lower GL.
Sourdough bread has a GI rating of 54, and a GL of 8, which is actually better compared to white bread which has a GI of 70 and a GL of 10.5.
Some of the longest-living people in the world eat it.
In Ikaria, Greece, it’s a common practice to bake sourdough bread. While it may seem random, it’s important to note that Ikaria is considered one of the five blue zones in the world, which are regions in which the densest population of centenarians live—aka, people living up to 100 years or longer. We can learn a lot from the longest living people in the world (here are some of their top habits), and if baking sourdough bread is a part of it, you know I’m all in.
Sourdough is easier on the stomach.
Working with living bacteria (yes, sourdough is quite literally bacteria that you have to feed and take care of) actually does have its benefits. In fact, the bacteria during the fermentation process (the process where your bread rises overnight) can actually convert the simple sugars in the bread into lactic acid. While this does give the sourdough that unique taste, it also positively affects the digestion process (clearly resulting in a lower GI) and even makes it easier for people to digest who have gluten sensitivities.
Sourdough benefits your gut microbiome.
In that same camp, because of the lactic acid, sourdough bread also has positive benefits for your gut microbiome. If you’re not familiar, your gut is made of good bacteria and microbes in the digestive tract that positively affects your cognitive health, immune system, mental health, and more (you can read more on it here). Research proves that sourdough—thanks to the lactic acid and natural fermentation process—can improve gut health while also helping patients who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, and even celiac disease.
Sourdough assists in the consumption of nutrients.
This one, I admit, is new for me! While researching the benefits of sourdough, I actually came across more research that shows how sourdough can actually be a better source of absorbing certain vitamins minerals in your diet compared to other bread. In particular, nutrients such as magnesium, iron, and zinc are present in sourdough bread compared to its white and white-wheat counterparts.
Looking to bake sourdough bread? Here’s my method!
It may feel daunting at first, but I promise you, the process is even easier than dealing with baker’s yeast, in my opinion. Here’s my foolproof recipe for the perfect sourdough loaf. And if you don’t have a friend trying to hand out leftover sourdough discard, you can try growing it yourself by following my step-by-step journey.
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