Last Updated on 2023-02-16 , 5:58 pm
You’ve probably only ever seen sourdough twice in your life—atas cafes and on social media during COVID-19 (when everyone only drank dalgona coffee and ate sourdough bread).
At first, you brush it off as a trend, another unnecessarily fancy food you can’t be bothered to try.
But when your friends and everyone around you start going out of their way to opt for sourdough bread, it makes you wonder if they have a point.
Bread is Uncool Now
Before we even go into what sourdough is, let’s ask (and answer) the obvious question: what happened to regular white bread?
It has been smothered to death and demonised by modern diets after being labelled unhealthy, causing many to steer clear of it.
The fact of the matter is, bread has been around for thousands of years ever since it was first made in Egypt. Variations of it from different cultures have sprouted throughout the globe but the staple white bread has persisted.
In the early 19th century, white bread was generally saved for special occasions and the wealthy because wheat was the most expensive grain to grow and its sifting process required a lot of labour.
However, as industrialisation eliminated the labour cost and white flour could be produced more quickly, white bread boomed in industrialised countries. Suddenly, white bread was accessible to more people (mostly the middle class) because it became cheaper.
Its immense popularity can also be attributed to the fact that white bread used to only be for the rich. Now that it was within reach for most people to eat, white bread became desirable.
People also viewed white bread as pure and clean, making it more appealing, particularly when some foods were made poorly and adulterated.
So, What Happened?
Consumers grew more aware of the nutritional value of white bread and started pulling away from it.
Research about how the overconsumption of white bread could contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes started cropping up.
It was also found that white bread was a processed food that contained low-quality carbs and even added sugar. This was proven by multiple studies that revealed eating high-glycemic white bread results in large blood-sugar spikes, which then increases the risk of the aforementioned illnesses.
The scrutiny over white bread’s chemical dough conditioners, preservatives, added sugar and GMOs grew to be a big problem for consumers.
In the US alone, bread sales stagnated around 2015, with American consumers spending less money on bread in 2017 than in 2013. There has also been little growth in bread sales from 2015 to 2020.
Along with this new knowledge that white bread isn’t all that healthy coming out, new types of, what was deemed “healthier”, bread were also being introduced.
It was an easy solution to the white bread problem and many quickly jumped ship.
Sourdough or Superdough
Of the many healthier bread alternatives popping up in the market, like whole wheat bread, sourdough is one of the most popular.
Grand View Research found that the market value of sourdough surged from $298.7 million in 2014 to $2.4 billion in 2018.
And it isn’t just individuals who were opting for sourdough – restaurants and cafes are starting to incorporate this magical bread into their menus.
What’s So Good About Sourdough
Sourdough – whose ingredients are traditionally salt, flour and a sourdough starter (notice the absence of yeast, milk, oils, eggs, and sweeteners) – is a very simple bread to make.
The most work one has to do when making sourdough is making the sourdough starter, which acts as the rising agent. It also gives the bread a more tangy flavour, hence the name sourdough.
The sourdough starter, a fermented mix of flour and water, contains colonies of bacteria and yeast. When incorporated into the bread dough, it traps carbon dioxide in it, allowing the bread to rise.
Apart from its easy preparation and baking process, sourdough carries a multitude of health benefits.
While the number of calories, carbs, and fibre in sourdough is comparable to regular white bread, it is lower in sugar and higher in protein.
The fermentation process used to make sourdough improves its nutritional value, contributing to its higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Your body can also absorb these nutrients more easily, compared to white bread, since sourdough has lower levels of phytate and contains lactic acid.
This fermentation process also breaks down gluten, meaning sourdough is more digestible than white bread and will result in fewer digestive problems as well as bloating.
Furthermore, because of the (say it with me) fermentation process, sourdough is less likely to spike your blood sugar as much as regular white bread.
Is Sourdough Really That Healthy?
Before considering if the sourdough you’re consuming is truly healthier than white bread, you must also consider the baker. The chances of sourdough really being healthier are better if the bread is homemade rather than produced by factories.
A tip would be to check the ingredients if you were to buy sourdough.
The big appeal of it, however, lies in the homemade aspect of it.
Generally, sourdough is simple to make and is a healthier alternative to regular white, or even whole-wheat, bread.
Its prebiotics can help you maintain good gut health and it is more digestible and nutritious than white bread.
Next time you see it on the menu, there is definitely no reason to not give it a try.
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