Have you ever been warned that you should cut bread out of your diet because it is full of carbohydrates, makes you gain weight, and is bad for your health? If you’re a bread lover, this may be one of your most difficult dietary tweaks.
Fortunately, researchers have some good news: Sourdough bread health benefits make it an excellent and healthy bread choice. Sourdough bread has a low glycemic index and can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels lower, helping to prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
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Download this expert FREE guide, Complete Nutrition: Low-carb diet, high-protein foods, healthy meal plans, how to use a calorie counter, and more.
Create healthy meal plans and discover the Superfoods that can transform your plate into a passport to better health.
What makes sourdough unique?
All bread is different. What grains are used, how the grains are processed, and the way the dough is prepared and baked can all affect the composition of bread products, and in turn, how they are metabolized in our bodies. This can affect how fast the bread moves through our digestive system once we eat it, and the way our body breaks down and absorbs the starches.
With sourdough, the grain, oftentimes wheat, is fermented with lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts. In this process, the grain is metabolized by the bacteria and lactic acid is produced. Sourdough has reduced simple sugar content and high levels of lactic acid, which makes it unique from other types of bread.
A lower glycemic response
Most bread products (especially white bread and highly processed bread) are loaded with carbohydrates and the starches are quickly digested. This produces a high glycemic response, meaning that your blood sugar spikes quickly after eating. Elevated glucose in the blood comes along with increased insulin concentrations which can be detrimental to health. But the fermentation process in sourdough lowers the glycemic index.
A recent study looked into the difference between ingesting white bread, whole wheat bread, white sourdough bread, or whole grain wheat barley bread. Eating sourdough bread led to the lowest blood sugar and insulin levels. Furthermore, the beneficial effect of lowered glucose lasted beyond into the next meal, too.[1,5]
Another study in prediabetic patients found that sourdough bread elicited significantly lower glucose and insulin levels than regular bread. The researchers concluded that a diet including sourdough bread might delay the evolution of insulin resistance into diabetes itself. Even short bursts of high blood sugar can worsen insulin resistance and contribute to diabetes; preventing spikes in glucose by eating sourdough is one of the many sourdough bread health benefits.
Eat sourdough in moderation to replace other bread products
If you are going to eat bread, it seems that sourdough is the best way to go. Try buying a whole grain sourdough bread or make your own at home. (Watch a video with instructions right here.) Eat in moderation, however. Remember that while it may be better than other types of bread, sourdough is still carbohydrate-heavy and does raise your glucose levels.
Share your experience
Do you enjoy eating sourdough bread? What are your favorite recipes? Share your tips in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2015.