Health benefits of sourdough?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 17:35
Comments Off on Health benefits of sourdough?

ND_blog_Sourdough_1109_fin Q. I use homemade whole-grain sourdough daily. I am totally
convinced it has exceptional health benefits. But I can't find
nutritional info on it. It seems to me that it has to have probiotics,
for instance.

A.   Sourdough starter does contain lactobacillus bacteria, often referred to as probiotics. It's the lactobacillus that give sourdough its characteristic sour flavor. But it's hard to say for sure which strains are present in a sourdough without laboratory analysis. The sourdough in my kitchen probably has different strains than the one in yours, for example. And different strains of lactobacillus offer varying health benefits, as discussed in this recent post on probiotics.

But whatever beneficial bacteria may be present in your sourdough starter, they will probably be destroyed by cooking. Most lactobacillus bacteria are only viable to about 112 degrees F.  So while sourdough starter could be considered a probiotic food, sourdough bread would not.

Another potential health benefit of sourdough is that the bacteria partially "digest" some of the starches and sugars in the grains.  As a result, sourdough bread appears to cause less of an increase in blood sugar than yeast breads. (Here's a link to the study.)

In terms of the relative nutritional value of sourdough, the biggest factor is probably whether it's made with refined or whole-grain flour. And, although whole-grain sourdough may be healthier than regular white bread, it is still basically bread. I wouldn't eat it in unlimited quantities!

For more on the science of sourdough, see this article.

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