Sourdough Bread Health Benefits Make It the Best Bread Choice

Research shows that the health benefits of sourdough bread make this delicious food a valuable part of a healthy diet.

sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is a great healthy bread option.

Have you ever been warned that you should cut bread out of your diet because it’s full of carbohydrates, makes you gain weight, and is bad for your health? If you’re a bread lover, sourdough bread may be a great option.

Sourdough bread’s health benefits make it an excellent and healthy bread choice. Its top benefit? Sourdough bread has a low glycemic index and can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels lower, which can prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.

What Makes Sourdough Bread Unique?

All bread is different. What grains are used, how the grains are processed, and the way the dough is prepared and baked all can 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.[1]

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.[4]

GLUTEN-FREE?

If you have celiac disease or are gluten-insensitive, you know that bread can be a challenge. Click here for a gluten-free sourdough bread recipe at Gluten Free & More magazine.

Study Summary: Sourdough Bread Has 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.[2] But the fermentation process in sourdough lowers the glycemic index and makes it a great low GI bread.[2]

A 2009 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.[1] 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 a low gi bread such as 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[4]; preventing spikes in glucose by eating sourdough is one of the many benefits of sourdough bread.

SOURDOUGH BREAD… OR EZEKIEL BREAD?

The most nutritional choice for bread? We make the case here for sourdough bread. But don’t overlook Ezekiel bread. Click here to read about that increasingly popular choice.

Eat Sourdough Bread in Moderation to Replace Other Bread Products

So if you’re continuing to include bread in your diet, it seems that sourdough bread is the best way to go. Try buying a whole grain sourdough bread or make your own at home. (Watch a video with instructions by clicking 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 with Sourdough Bread

Do you enjoy eating sourdough bread? What are your favorite recipes? Share your tips in the comments section below.

NOT SO FAST: ANOTHER VIEWPOINT ON WHETHER SOURDOUGH IS HEALTHIER THAN WHITE BREAD

Does sourdough bread slow down the rate at which glucose releases into our bloodstream? That belief makes it a healthier choice than, say, white bread. Or at least that’s what some experts have purported. But is it actually the case?

In 2017, a team of Israeli researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted studies that produced a different conclusion: that sourdough bread doesn’t necessarily have a lower glycemic index for everyone. The effect may be true with some people, but turns out to be opposite for others. In other words, the glycemic response to the two types of bread varies greatly across people, per the small crossover trial.

The researchers’ summary:

Bread is consumed daily by billions of people, yet evidence regarding its clinical effects is contradicting. Here, we performed a randomized crossover trial of two 1-week-long dietary interventions comprising consumption of either traditionally made sourdough-leavened whole-grain bread or industrially made white bread. We found no significant differential effects of bread type on multiple clinical parameters.

The gut microbiota composition remained person specific throughout this trial and was generally resilient to the intervention. We demonstrate statistically significant interpersonal variability in the glycemic response to different bread types, suggesting that the lack of phenotypic difference between the bread types stems from a person-specific effect.

We further show that the type of bread that induces the lower glycemic response in each person can be predicted based solely on microbiome data prior to the intervention.

Together, we present marked personalization in both bread metabolism and the gut microbiome, suggesting that understanding dietary effects requires integration of person-specific factors.

For related reading, visit these posts:


This article was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.

[1] Br J Nutr. 2009 Feb;101(3):391-8.
[2] Food Microbiol. 2009 Oct;26(7):693-9.
[3] J Nutr. 2012 Jul;142(7):1304-13.
[4] Acta Diabetol. 2008 Jun;45(2):91-6.
[5] Univeristy of Guelph. News Release. 2008 Jul.

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Comments
  • I love my sourdough bread. I find just one slice is enough to fill me and keep me feeling full for much longer than regular bread. I use organic spelt flour and add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia and sesame seeds. As I maintain my own starter and make my own bread, I know there is no added sugar, preservatives, colours or flavours, just my starter, a little himalayan pink salt, filtered water, organic spelt flour and whatever seeds I put in, so it’s got to be better othan shop bought bread and I get great satisfaction from my creation. : )

    Reply
  • How do we know what ‘level’ of sour dough is in a loaf (some are called sour dough and only contain 10% sour dough from the ‘mother batch’. And what % sour dough is required to provide the health benefits described?. In my experience 40% sour dough produces good flavour so manufacturers of cheaper types probably use significantly lower levels. Its a long production process, so not easy to manufacture large scale.

    Reply
  • LOVE READING UHU .. EATING HEALTHY IS MOST IMPORTANT . THERE IS NOTHING ELSE ..
    BEST REGARDS .

    Reply
  • Sourdough from any grocery chain is made from yeast, most likely genetically modified. An independent baker can make real sourdough (where the yeast comes from the air) from organic heirloom wheat.

    Reply
  • I have been on a LCHF diet for 4 years but have continued to eat h9memade sourdough bread all that time. Prior to starting LCHF I was pre-diabetic, BMI 35 and suffering several inflammatory illnesses including osteoarthritis and asthma (I used an inhaler every day) I am now normal weight BMI 24 and free of diabetes, asthma and osteoarthritic pain. All this occurred within the first 8 months and since. But throughtout I continued to eat sourdough bread becuse I enjoy making it and have done so for many years. However, I only eat one slice of the bread daily (about 35g) and have designed a recipe to minimise net carbs. The recipe uses a flour mix of 65% rye and 35% wheat, plus some chia seeds. End result is that a 35g slice cotains only around 14g net carbs. In addition I eat the bread with a very generous amount of butter ~15g per slice. My total daily net carb intake averages around 40g. So my LCHF diet has been very successful without me giving up sourdough bread entirely – though my consumption of it is very low. I’m not suggesting that this would be possible for everyone needing to eat LCHF to improve their health. I do have to exercise discipline however because I love the taste of sourdough so much I could easily eat 2 or 3 slices a day if I let myself.

    Reply
  • Is sourdough bread recommended for gout patients? Won’t the yeast add too many purines, leading to high uric acid?

    Reply

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