Many assume that eating sourdough bread is much healthier than eating white bread, and for good reason. Sourdough bread is incredibly nutritious, loaded with good bacteria that aid in good digestion, which is why so many people favour it over regular bread. Not to mention it has many health benefits. So when it’s white bread vs sourdough, which one is actually healthier?
How is Sourdough Made?
Sourdough uses a sourdough starter as a rising agent, as opposed to relying on commercial yeast. The sourdough starter is filled with beneficial bacteria or probiotics and wild yeast which include lactobacillus.
When an active sourdough starter is combined with flour and water to create a dough, the good bacteria and yeast feed on the sugar and starches in the flour, converting it to lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
Though most homemade sourdough bread isn’t always tangy, its simply referred to as sourdough since it is fermented, and the fact that it is fermented is beneficial in itself!
Is Sourdough Bread More Nutritious than Regular Bread?
Sourdough bread is often made from the same flour as other types of bread. However, the fermentation process improves the nutritional profile in more ways than some.
For instance, whole grain breads contain a decent amount of minerals, including magnesium, zinc, and potassium. However, the body isn’t able to absorb all of these minerals because of the presence of phytic acid, or phytate.
Phytate is often referred to as an antinutrient because it clings to minerals making them a tedious task for your body to absorb. Fortunately the lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread lowers the bread’s PH levels, effectively deactivating phytate.
Is Sourdough White Bread?
Sourdough bread can be made with any type of flour, providing that the fermentation process is the same.
However, the nutrients obtained from whole wheat flour may be differ than those of white flour. This is why many choose to add whole grain or whole wheat flour into their sourdough starters.
Sourdough’s nutritional value is pretty similar to other bread, and will fluctuate depending on the type of flour that was used, whether it was made from whole or refined grains.
Generally, a single medium slice of sourdough bread made with white bread flour contains:
- Carbs: 37 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 8 grams
Apart from that sourdough has some distinctive properties that allow it to excel the benefits of other types of bread.
Is Sourdough Better Than White Bread?
Nutritionally sourdough bread and white bread are almost the same, with one regular slice containing 93 calories each. Though there is significant difference in how they are made, and this is what separates the two breads completely.
Regular white bread is made using dried yeast that reacts with gluten making the dough rise. However sourdough bread is made using a starter, which is a combination of naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria thriving inside a paste made of flour and water. These bacteria produce lactic acid which ferments the dough, and provides the the bread with its unique sour taste.
Whole Grain Sourdough Bread vs White Sourdough Bread
Bread flour is milled from grain kernels with a structure that is similar to an egg. There’s the outer bran, the inner endosperm with most of the starches and proteins, then the center germ, loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Each type of flour can vary depending on their extraction rate, indicating how much of the total kernel was milled into the flour. With whole grain flour having a 100% extraction rate, milled from the entire grain, white flour has an extraction rate of 72% as it contains the endosperm part of the grain instead.
Whole grain flour has higher fiber content compared to white flour. This is because whole grains contain the bran layer of the grain, that provides the whole grain flour with its incredibly high fiber.
Whole grain flour also contains the germ which is loaded with nutrients, responsible for providing the vitamins and minerals required for the grain to sprout. Whole grain flour contains several types of vitamins, including folate, riboflavin, thiamin and pantothenic which is normally missing from white flour.
Does Sourdough Contain Gluten?
Sourdough bread isn’t considered gluten-free though it does contain very less gluten than other bread.
Gluten isn’t necessarily a bad thing, rather it’s a protein that can provide your bread with a wonderful structure and texture. Though when it comes to individuals who suffer from gluten sensitivity then homemade sourdough bread is always the better option.
In an unfermented situation, the gluten and other carbohydrates in wheat or rye grains are indigestible for some people. As a result they can experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas or other uncomfortable symptoms. This type of gut inflammation can prevent the absorption of essential nutrients when eating bread which isn’t great at all.
Studies have shown that lactic acid bacteria fermentation of wheat and rye sourdough happens to modify the molecular structure of the bread, reducing certain proteins including gluten, and carbohydrates. The resulting sourdough bread is much easier to digest and improves your overall gut health.
Generally speaking, the longer the sourdough is left to ferment the more gluten is degraded and reduced. This is why so many prefer home baking.
White Flour or Whole Wheat Flour?
Using whole wheat flour in place of white flour will heavily impact the flavors and textures of your bread. With whole wheat flour containing the entire grain of wheat, including:
- The bran – this is found on the outer part of the wheat berry. It is rich in fiber and minerals, and gives the most flavor to sourdough bread.
- The endosperm – this is found in the inner most part of the wheat berry. It is rich in starch, and mostly made up of carbohydrates and proteins. This is essential for gluten development in bread
- The germ – a smaller portion of the wheat berry, rich in vitamins and fats.
On the other hand, white flour contains less bran and germ, with mostly endosperm left, depending on how fine it has been milled. Using whole wheat flour for your sourdough bread will give your load of bread a more:
- complex flavor profile, from the minerals in the bran
- a dense and heavy texture of bread
White flour will give you a lighter, softer textured bread, with an open crumb, and a milder flavor profile. You can find out more on this at what’s the best flour for sourdough.
Benefits of Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread is loaded with nutritional benefits that many should intend to take advantage of.
Here are some nutritional values outlined below:
- Nutritious and Delicious
- Promotes Proper Digestion
- Can Promote Weight Loss
- Increases Phytochemicals
- Rich in Protein
- Easy to Digest
- Tastes Better
Nutritious and Delicious
Plant foods such as grains, are naturally high in anti-nutrients like phytic acid. These make it hard for the body to absorb the certain nutrients in that particular food.
For instance, whole grain bread is full of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphate, but to absorb these minerals can be difficult.
Sourdough bread contains lactic acid which neutralizes these compounds by lowering the PH, making these nutrients readily available for absorption, especially if whole grain flour is being used.
The fermentation process, coupled with a lower PH in sourdough, will also increase the antioxidant content along with other nutrients.
Promotes Proper Digestion
The natural fermentation process makes it easier to digest compared to other breads made with baker’s yeast. People who consume sourdough bread regularly, are less likely to encounter bloating or digestion problems.
Fermentation can also break down gluten, which is an essential protein in wheat that is known to cause gut sensitivity in some individuals.
The fermentation process breaks apart any traces of gluten, meaning that sourdough bread is much more digestible. However, those who suffer from celiac disease should remain careful, as sourdough can still contain small amounts of gluten. Instead, try to opt for gluten-free sourdough bread made from sorghum flour, brown rice flour, etc.
Moreover, sourdough bread is full of prebiotics, which is an indigestible fiber that helps feed your good gut bacteria, ultimately promoting a healthy digestive system.
Can Promote Weight Loss
The prebiotics present in sourdough can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, therefore promoting glucose regulation and metabolism leading to the burning of fat and possible weight loss.
Sourdough bread made with whole grains is rich in fiber with lower glycemic index and glycemic load, making it a suitable choice for anyone looking to lose some weight.
Glycemic index is used to measure the rate at which certain types of foods raise your blood sugar levels, on a scale of 0 to 100. With pure glucose or sugar being at 100. The glycemic index can be pretty high in processed foods compared to foods that are high in fiber.
On the other hand, glycemic load is used to measure carbohydrates in food and how rapidly they can raise blood glucose.
Sourdough bread contains a GL measurement of 8 and a GI measurement of 54, while regular bread contains a GL of 9 and an GI measurement of 71.
The fermentation process in sourdough bread decreases the anti-nutrients (phytates) as well as increasing valuable phytochemicals.
Sourdough bread contains more valuable compounds compared to other breads. These compounds offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that promote good health.
Rich in Protein
Protein is an essential component that provides structure and support to your cells, and can also support different immune functions.
A medium slice of white sourdough bread contains 8 grams of protein, and regularly consuming sourdough bread on a daily basis can boost your daily protein intake.
Easy to Digest
Compared to bread made with baker’s yeast, sourdough bread is much easier to digest, meaning that it is also much easier for your body to absorb certain nutrients.
Sourdough bread is made with three simple ingredients: flour, water and salt, while other breads are made with flour, water and yeast.
Sourdough fermentation makes the bread easily digestible, as the lactobacilli in the sourdough culture break down complex starches into simpler sugars which can easily be absorbed by the body.
Many expect sourdough bread to have a very apparent tart flavor. But since its baked at a lower temperature compared to regular bread, it emerges with a more milder flavor. The leavening process also allows sourdough bread to remain soft for an extended period.
When baking your own sourdough bread its important to note that different types of flour will provide you with different results. For instance, all-purpose flour will bake a lighter load, while whole wheat or rye flours will make denser loaves.
White Bread vs Sourdough – The Facts
Sourdough bread is a better alternative to regular or white bread. It has an incredible nutritional value, and generally easier to digest making it more available for those who suffer from gut sensitivity.
While it is possible to make sourdough bread with white flour, you may miss out on the incredible nutrients that you can get from whole wheat or whole grains.
The main difference between sourdough bread and white bread is that they are leavened differently. While white bread is leavened using a packaged yeast, sourdough bread us leavened with lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeasts. This combination of bacteria and wild yeast is a sourdough starter.
According to some research, sourdough whole meal bread can aid in losing excess weight. This is due to the combined glycemic index and glycemic load ratings.
Sourdough bread is a much healthier alternative to regular white bread or whole wheat bread. Although the nutrients are quite comparable, the lower phytate levels makes it more digestible and nutritious. The prebiotics keep your gut happy, and less likely to increase your blood sugar levels.