Bread! We have to admit most of us like to eat it. Heck, think about your favorite dinner and I bet it has bread or grains with it, or in it. Am I right? There are books and blogs that tell us the only way to be healthy is to remove all breads/grains from our diet forever.
Just a second! When I look at pictures of people from the past, say about 60-70 years ago, I see very few overweight people. So according to today’s logic they must not have eaten bread. Now we know that this is false. Just look at the boy in the picture from 1943. He looks very happy with those big hummer-sized loaves of bread. Could it be that his bread is different than ours in stores today?
It is not widely known that most bread before the advent of rapid rise yeasts in the later 1950’s used a sourdough type rising agent. Let’s look at the 3 benefits of using sourdough as a rising agent and these may just make you rethink your use of sourdough.
Benefit #1 of Sourdough – Nutrition +
One of the greatest benefits of sourdough is the pre-digestion (softening) of the outer cellular wall of the wheat. This softening of the wheat occurs during the culturing/rising process with sourdough. Lactobacilli in the sourdough starter eats on the tough outer wall of the wheat cell, breaking it down somewhat. Nutrients in the wheat are made available to the body at much higher levels when compared to common commercial bread.
We often have students tell us that they get full eating half as much sourdough when compared to commercial breads. This is exciting when you stop to think that we actually are eating for nutrition, not calories.
Benefit # 1 Check Off: Sounds good to me! Eat half the bread as usual and get full. I will label this as Sourdough = Nutrition x 2.
Benefit # 2 of Sourdough – Low Gluten
Gluten intolerance. Did you know this was not near as common an issue in the past as it is today. Sourdough during the culturing process breaks down gluten proteins. Those friendly lactobacilli show up again, and guess what? They like to consume gluten as food and in the process make the gluten just about vanish from the bread.
Studies have been done that show that in sourdough breads and products the longer they are cultured, the more the gluten is broken down. If items are cultured long enough, a gluten-free (according to he USDA definition) food item can be made. Now, I would exercise caution here! You will have to treat these foods as you would any food that contains gluten depending on your level of sensitivity. Also be aware that as the culturing time increases, the sour taste of the bread increases.
Benefit #2 Check Off: By just culturing a sourdough product for 14 hours min. a great amount of the gluten is broken down. I will label this as Sourdough = low gluten.
Benefit #3 of Sourdough – More Minerals
Guess what another benefit happens during the sourdough culturing process. Phytic acid is greatly reduced by the sourdough process. I know this is a tough one to get excited about, especially since most of us say, “Phytic Acid, what is that?” Think of phytic acid as an anti-nutrient. Here is a quote that helps to explain phytic acid.
Sally Fallon tells us in her book, “Nourishing Traditions” that:
“All grains contain Phytic Acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome.”
What this says to me is that overtime the eating of untreated grains (processed bread, processed grain products, etc.) keeps important minerals from being absorbed by our bodies. Could it be that since we eat processed bread/grain products for breakfast, lunch and dinner we are overtime becoming mineral deficient?
Benefit #3 Check Off: The sourdough culturing process neutralizes more than twice as much phytic acid when compared to rapid rise commercial breads/bread products! Sourdough = minerals x 2.
3 Great Benefits of Sourdough
Remember the picture of the boy and his big loves of bread. Now you understand why he had a big smile on his face. He knew he was holding nutritious, gut filling bread. Maybe he did not know about the gluten and phytic acid reduction. Quite different from today’s empty bread.
The neat thing about sourdough is that you can control the sourness very easily. So you can keep it out or let it happen at a level you like. With that in mind you can make many healthy foods we all like, such as: crackers, rolls, pizza crusts, breads, pancakes, waffles, cornbread, cakes, muffins, etc. Yumm! Count me in!
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