Sourdough bread is undoubtedly delicious with a chewy crust and light and airy crumb. The increasing popularity of sourdough bread represents a return to older baking methods, and making bread in this way results in a loaf that is more nutritious and better for us in a number of ways:
1. Sourdough bread uses less yeast: since the 1960s most of the bread produced in the UK has been manufactured by the Chorley Wood method. This method involved the addition of extra yeast (at least double that of a traditionally prepared loaf), encouraging the bread to rise much faster. However, this extra yeast can contribute to digestive imbalances and problems, especially for individuals who have a yeast intolerance. Sourdough bread is made with natural yeasts from the air, making it much easier to digest and led likely to cause the bloating many of us associate with bread.
2. It supports blood sugar balance: the sourdough fermentation and rising process produces lactic and acetic acids in the bread (they give the bread its distinctive ‘sour’ taste). These acids also slow down the release of glucose from the bread into our bloodstream. This means that sourdough bread provides a more sustained release of energy over time and does not cause the blood sugar spikes followed by energy slumps that we can get from eating other white breads.
3. It’s easier to digest: sourdough bread is allowed to rise more slowly and this slow fermentation enables the natural yeasts to fully break down the gluten in the wheat grain. As a result the wheat and gluten in sourdough bread is much more digestible and individuals who find they cannot tolerate other breads, or who are intolerant to wheat or gluten, find sourdough much easier to digest.
4. It’s more nutritious: the slow fermentation process of sourdough bread allows the yeast and bacteria in the dough to break down the grains (such as wheat or spelt) used to make the bread. This releases a lot of the nutrients that are ‘locked’ inside the grain producing a much more nutritious loaf.
Sarah Trimble is a Nutritional Therapist at the Framar Health Clinic.