Sourdough Bread: Nutrients, Benefits, and Recipe (2024)

Sourdough relies on a mix of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, rather than baker’s yeast, to leaven the dough. It’s richer in nutrients, less likely to spike your blood sugar, contains lower amounts of gluten, and is generally easier to digest than bread made with baker’s yeast.

Sourdough bread is one of my favorite types of bread.

Not only do I find it tastier than conventional bread, but it’s also arguably more nutritious. Sourdough bread is also less likely to spike your blood sugar than conventional bread, and many of my clients find it easier to digest.

In this article, I review the latest science behind sourdough bread, as well as the many reasons it could be a worthy addition to your diet.

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Sourdough is one of the oldest forms of grain fermentation.

Experts believe it originated in ancient Egypt around 1500 B.C. and remained the main method of leavening bread until baker’s yeast replaced it a few hundred years ago (1).

Breads can be categorized as either leavened or unleavened.

Leavened breads have a dough that rises during the bread-making process. This is caused by the gas that’s released as the grain in the dough begins to ferment (2).

Most leavened breads use commercial baker’s yeast to help the dough rise.

On the other hand, unleavened breads, such as flatbreads like tortillas and roti, do not rise.

Sourdough bread is a leavened bread. However, rather than using baker’s yeast to rise, it’s leavened by “wild yeast” and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour (3).

Wild yeast is more resistant to acidic conditions than baker’s yeast, which allows it to work together with lactic acid bacteria to help the dough rise (4, 5).

Lactic acid bacteria are also naturally found in several other fermented foots, including yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi (6).

The mix of wild yeast, lactic acid bacteria, flour, and water used to make sourdough bread is called a starter. During the bread-making process, the starter ferments the sugars in the dough, helping the bread rise and acquire its characteristic flavor (5, 7).

Sourdough bread also naturally contains varying levels of acetic acid bacteria, a group of bacteria that give sourdough bread its particular vinegar-like aroma.

Starters with high levels of acetic acid bacteria also take longer to ferment and rise, giving sourdough bread its characteristic texture (5, 8).

The yeast naturally found in sourdough bread is also thought to increase the bread’s nutrient content and make it easier for your body to digest than bread that’s made using baker’s yeast (4, 5).

Despite its ancient roots, sourdough bread making remains popular to this day — maybe even more so as a result of the surge in interest in home baking that has occurred during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns throughout the world (9).

Keep in mind that not all store-bought sourdough breads are made using the traditional sourdough method, and this may reduce their health benefits.

Buying sourdough bread from an artisan baker or a farmers market increases the likelihood of it being “true” sourdough bread (2).


Sourdough uses an ancient form of bread leavening. It relies on a mix of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour, rather than baker’s yeast, to leaven the dough.

Sourdough’s nutrition profile is similar to those of most other breads and will be influenced by the type of flour that is used to make it — for instance, whether it’s made from whole or refined grains.

On average, one medium slice of sourdough bread made with white flour and weighing approximately 2 ounces (59 grams) contains (10):

  • Calories: 188
  • Carbs: 37 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Selenium: 32% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate: 21% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 21% of the DV
  • Niacin: 20% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 17% of the DV
  • Manganese: 15% of the DV
  • Iron: 13% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV

Aside from its nutrient content, sourdough has some special properties that allow it to surpass the benefits of most other types of bread. I’ll be discussing these in the following chapters.


Sourdough’s basic nutrition profile resembles those of other breads and depends on which type of flour is used to make it. Sourdough also has a few special properties that make it more nutritious.

Although sourdough bread is often made from the same flour as other types of bread, the fermentation process used to make it improves its nutrition profile in several ways.

For one thing, whole grain breads contain a good amount of minerals, including potassium, phosphate, magnesium, and zinc (11).

However, your body’s ability to absorb these minerals is limited by the presence of phytic acid, also commonly called phytate.

Phytate is naturally found in several plant-based foods, including grains, and is often referred to as an antinutrient because it binds to minerals, making them more difficult for your body to absorb (11).

The lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread lower the bread’s pH, which helps deactivate phytate. Because of this, sourdough bread tends to contain less phytate than other types of bread (11, 12).

Research suggests that sourdough fermentation could reduce the phytate content of bread by more than 70%, with the lowest levels found in breads made from doughs with pH levels between 4.3 and 4.6 and fermented at 77°F (25°C) (13).

What’s more, the dough’s low pH, combined with the lactic acid bacteria it contains, tends to increase the nutrient and antioxidant content of sourdough bread (12, 13).

Finally, sourdough’s longer fermentation time helps improve the aroma, flavor, and texture of whole grain bread. So if you aren’t typically a fan of whole grain bread, a whole grain sourdough bread may be the perfect way to include whole grains in your diet (13).


Sourdough bread contains higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than other breads. It also contains lower levels of phytate and therefore allows your body to absorb the nutrients it contains more easily than those in regular bread.

Sourdough bread is often easier to digest than bread that’s been fermented with brewer’s yeast.

The lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast present during sourdough fermentation help neutralize the antinutrients naturally found in grains, which helps your body digest foods made from these grains more easily (12, 13, 14, 15).

Sourdough fermentation may also produce prebiotics, a type of indigestible fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, in turn easing digestion and improving your gut health (14, 16).

What’s more, the sourdough fermentation process also helps break down large compounds found in grains, such as gluten proteins, ultimately making them easier for your body to digest (13).

Gluten is a type of protein found in certain grains. It can cause digestive issues in people who are sensitive or allergic to it (11).

Gluten tolerance varies from person to person. Some people have no noticeable issues digesting gluten, whereas in others it can cause stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation (17).

Sourdough bread’s lower gluten content may make it easier to tolerate for people who are sensitive to gluten.

This makes gluten-free sourdough bread an interesting option for people with gluten-related disorders.

However, keep in mind that sourdough fermentation does not degrade gluten completely. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid sourdough bread containing wheat, barley, or rye.


Sourdough bread contains lower amounts of gluten, lower levels of antinutrients, and more prebiotics — all of which may help improve your digestion.

Sourdough bread may have a better effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than other types of bread, though scientists don’t fully understand the reason for this.

Researchers believe that sourdough fermentation may change the structure of carb molecules. This reduces the bread’s glycemic index (GI) and slows down the speed at which sugars enter the bloodstream (13, 14).

However, several factors can affect the GI response, and more research is needed on how sourdough affects it (18).

The GI is a measure of how a food affects blood sugar. Foods with a lower GI are less likely to produce a spike in blood sugar levels.

In addition, the lactic acid bacteria found in the dough produce acids during fermentation. Some researchers believe these acids may help prevent a spike in blood sugar (13, 19).

The sourdough fermentation process is often used to make rye breads because rye does not contain enough gluten for baker’s yeast to work effectively.

One study showed that participants who consumed rye bread had a lower spike in insulin levels than those who ate the same amount of conventional wheat bread (20).

In addition, several other studies have compared participants’ blood sugar increases after eating sourdough bread and bread fermented with baker’s yeast.

Generally, participants who ate the sourdough bread had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who ate the breads fermented with baker’s yeast (3, 21, 22, 23).


Sourdough fermentation produces changes in the bread that may help control blood sugar better than bread made using traditional baker’s yeast.

You can make fresh sourdough bread at home from three simple ingredients: water, flour, and salt.

Here is a quick overview of the steps required:

  1. Make a sourdough starter a few days beforehand. You can find many simple recipes online. Creating an initial starter takes less than 5 minutes.
  2. Feed your starter daily and let it grow for a few days. You will use part of this starter to make the bread and save the rest for future use.
  3. On the day you want to make your bread, mix part of your starter with flour and water and allow this mixture to rest for a few hours. Then add salt.
  4. Fold the dough a few times before letting it rest again for 10–30 minutes. Repeat the folding and resting steps a few times, until the dough becomes smooth and stretchy.
  5. On the final rest, let the dough rise at room temperature until it grows to about 1.5 times its original volume.
  6. Shape your bread loaf and bake it in a Dutch oven.
  7. Allow the bread to cool on a rack for 2–3 hours before slicing it.

Keep in mind that making your sourdough starter will take 3–5 days. Do not rush this process, as the quality of your starter is what will give your dough a good flavor and help it rise.

Also, note that you will use only part of the starter to make the bread. You can save the rest for future use as long as you refrigerate it and “feed” it at least once a week.

When you’re ready to make another loaf, simply take your starter out of the fridge 1–3 days ahead of time and feed it once a day until it strengthens again.


Follow the steps above to make your first loaf of bread. An online search will reveal many recipes for sourdough starter and bread that you can follow.

Sourdough bread is a great alternative to conventional bread.

It’s richer in nutrients, less likely to spike your blood sugar, and generally easier to digest.

Just remember that sourdough fermentation doesn’t degrade gluten completely. So if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it’s best to avoid sourdough bread made from wheat, barley, or rye, all of which contain gluten.

Many people report that sourdough bread has a better aroma, flavor, and texture than bread made using baker’s yeast. All things considered, you may want to give sourdough bread a try.

You can make sourdough bread from virtually any type of flour. For the most benefits, choose a sourdough bread made from whole grains over one made from refined grains whenever possible.

Just one thing

Try this today: If you have flour and water, you can make sourdough starter right now. The first step takes less than 5 minutes. Keep in mind that you’ll need to make it 3–5 days in advance of the day you want to bake your first loaf of sourdough.

You can find starter recipes and instructional videos to follow online with a quick search.

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Sourdough Bread: Nutrients, Benefits, and Recipe (2024)


What are the nutritional benefits of sourdough bread? ›

Potential Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

This is due to the way that the lactic acid bacteria in the bread interacts with these nutrients. These bacteria destroy certain types of acid commonly found in other types of bread, which increases the availability of nutrients like folate, potassium, and magnesium.

Why is sourdough the healthiest bread? ›

It's richer in nutrients, less likely to spike your blood sugar, contains lower amounts of gluten, and is generally easier to digest than bread made with baker's yeast. Sourdough bread is one of my favorite types of bread. Not only do I find it tastier than conventional bread, but it's also arguably more nutritious.

Is it healthy to eat sourdough bread everyday? ›

The type of flour used — all-purpose, whole wheat, rye — can affect the nutritional content of sourdough bread, says Wee. But generally speaking, sourdough bread is a healthy option and can be eaten regularly as part of a nutritious, balanced diet.

Can diabetics eat sourdough bread? ›

Sourdough bread is made through a slow fermentation process, which may cause this type of bread to raise blood sugar more slowly than other breads. As a result, sourdough bread could be a great choice for those with diabetes. Whole grain sourdough bread is the best sourdough bread for diabetics.

Is sourdough bread anti-inflammatory? ›

The best bread to reduce gut inflammation is bread made from whole grains. Refined grains, such as the grains found in white bread and white pasta, are known to increase inflammation across the whole body. Sourdough bread and rye bread are both good options for an anti-inflammatory diet.

Why is sourdough better for your stomach? ›

Luckily when it comes to IBS, bread and digestion we have an ally: sourdough. The wild yeast and lactobacillus in the leaven neutralise the phytic acid as the bread proves through the acidification of the dough. This prevents the effects of the phytic acid and makes the bread easier for us to digest.

Why is sourdough bread good for your heart? ›

Sourdough bread's fiber, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium content all support a heart-healthy diet. The soluble fiber found in sourdough bread binds to dietary cholesterol in the small intestine, helping pass this fat through the system instead of absorbing it.

What is the healthiest bread to eat? ›

Next time you're at the store, look for the following options to find a healthy bread you like.
  • Wholegrain bread. Wholegrain bread is minimally processed and made with flour from fully intact grains. ...
  • Multigrain bread. ...
  • Dark rye bread. ...
  • Authentic sourdough bread. ...
  • Flaxseed, or linseed, bread. ...
  • Ezekiel, or sprouted grain, bread.
Mar 19, 2024

Is sourdough bread a superfood? ›

It's nutritious.

Sourdough contains a variety of vitamins and nutrients, making it super beneficial to your day-to-day health.

Is sourdough a probiotic? ›

Although baked sourdough bread may not contain probiotics since they are likely not able to survive the high heat of the baking process, it does still contain prebiotics, which are also vital for proper digestion and gut health.

What is the healthiest flour for sourdough bread? ›

Compared to whole wheat flour, rye flour is said to be the most nutrient- and amylase-dense option for a sourdough starter. Overall, it has a lower gluten protein content than wheat flour, which means it produces slack, sticky, and dense doughs.

How many slices of sourdough can I eat a day? ›

Whether or not it is healthy for you to consume sourdough every day depends on the rest of your diet. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends 6 servings of grains per day. For reference, one slice of sourdough bread is a single serving.

What is the best way to eat sourdough bread? ›

One of my favorite ways to eat sourdough bread is by toasting, adding a layer of butter, and my favorite, raspberry jam. We eat our bread by making turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese, and French toast, and I even love making croutons out of stale bread.

Is sourdough bread good for losing belly fat? ›

But flour type and personal diet need to play a big role. Is sourdough bread good for weight loss? Yes, it may help in your weight management journey. It's complex carbs and high fibre content can leave you feeling full and limit snacking.

Is sourdough bread better for you than bread? ›

The bottom line

Sourdough is a healthier alternative to regular white or whole wheat bread. Although it has comparable nutrients, the lower phytate levels mean it is more digestible and nutritious. The prebiotics also help to keep your gut bacteria happy, and it may be less likely to spike blood sugar levels.

Is sourdough bread probiotic? ›

Although baked sourdough bread may not contain probiotics since they are likely not able to survive the high heat of the baking process, it does still contain prebiotics, which are also vital for proper digestion and gut health.

Why is sourdough easier to digest? ›

Because of the organic acids produced by the Lactobacillus bacteria, sourdough has a lower pH than standard bread. This not only gives it a desirable “sour” flavor and longer shelf-life, but also makes the bread kinder to your gut (Marti, et al., 2015; Siepmann, et al., 2018).

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