Five potential health benefits of sourdough bread
Just what is sourdough? We shall never know exactly. But one story goes that, around 6,000 years ago, some baker, somewhere, noticed that the flour and water mix he had left lying around forgotten was behaving oddly. It was bubbling, fermenting; it was expanding; it looked off. It smelt a bit weird. He stuck it in the oven anyway – don’t waste food lah – and voila, the first sourdough loaf was born.
Sourdough bread is not cheap – because it includes the valuable ingredient of time. It takes hours till the starter is ready to be used, and hours more for the bread dough to be sufficiently fermented and ready to go into the oven. But that has not stopped it from becoming ever more popular, not least because of its purported health benefits.
In the long slow fermentation that produces sourdough bread, important nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins become easier for our bodies to absorb.
- Antioxidants and Disease Prevention
Studies have shown that antioxidants like the peptides found in sourdough can lower the risk for certain types of cancer, signs of aging, or chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage that cause serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels
The bacteria that helps form sourdough have a unique effect on the starch in the bread. It changes the structure of the bread molecules – making your body absorb them slower, which lowers the bread’s glycemic index (GI). This means that your insulin levels will not spike as high after eating a slice of sourdough bread as they would after eating white bread.
- Healthy Gut
According to some studies, sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic, which means that the fiber in the bread helps feed the “good” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system.
- Lower Gluten
Sourdough is lower in gluten than other forms of bread, and the acid in the bread appears to degrade gluten. So people with gluten intolerance may find that sourdough is easier to digest.
(However, people with celiac disease are likely to still experience symptoms if they eat sourdough bread. If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, please check with your doctor before adding sourdough bread to your diet.)
Take the plunge today – and fall in love with the flavour and texture of sourdough. You will wonder how something so tasty can be so good for you. But it is.