We all grew up knowing that whole wheat bread, or wholemeal bread, is the healthiest option when it comes to choosing a staple bread for your home.
Although there is no denying the health benefits of wholemeal bread, there is a new rising star in the realm of healthy bread and it’s sourdough.
Sourdough bread isn’t the new kid on the block – in fact, it’s been around for centuries – but, it’s increasing popularity over the last few years has people side-eyeing their whole wheat loaves and asking themselves: “Is this really the healthiest option for me and my family?”
Like anything, you need to compare the two to find which type of bread is best for you and your needs. Both offer a range of benefits which I’ll dig into, so you can finally put the question to rest in it’s bread basket for once and for all.
As the old saying goes: age before beauty, so we’ll dive right into the benefits of whole wheat bread before we cover the ‘God tier’ of bread that is sourdough.
Benefits of whole wheat bread
Whole grains are often touted by health professionals as an important part of any healthy diet, which is because they are packed full of nutrients that help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity – unlike the white breads of the world. Whole-grain diets can also support healthy digestion and in some cases, may reduce your risk of cancer.
So, what is it about whole wheat bread that makes it so good for you? Here’s the top three reasons:
1. High in fibre content
Whole wheat breads typically have much higher fibre content than your common supermarket bread. the bran component of wheat, which is the main source of fibre. In fact, a regular slice of wholemeal bread provides around 2g of fibre.
Fibre is beneficial for your health because it works to keep you feeling fuller for longer, improves your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can even assist in preventing diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
2 Rich in B vitamins
Along with fibre, wholemeal bread is packed full of B vitamins that are essential for making sure the body's cells are functioning properly. They also help the body to convert food into energy, create new blood cells, and maintain healthy skin cells, brain cells, and more.
Some of these B vitamins include:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) enables our body to use carbohydrates as energy
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) helps to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) assists to convert the food we eat into energy for a healthy nervous system
- Vitamin B9 (Folate) creates healthy new cells in our body
3 Lower GI
Wholemeal bread has a lower Glycemic Index, or GI, than other breads which means that it maintains healthy, more stable blood sugar levels. This allows you to minimize spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels, which is particularly important for anyone with type 2 diabetes.
Low GI food, like whole wheat bread, provides a number of additional health benefits, including reducing blood sugar levels, aiding weight loss, and lowering your risk of heart disease.
Now, what are the health benefits of sourdough?
Although sourdough is often made with the same flour as regular bread, it’s the fermentation process that helps to improve its nutritional value.
What does this mean? Well, the fermentation process helps to unlock B vitamins, folates, antioxidants, and lactic acid, which lowers phytate content and aids mineral absorption.
I know it’s all gotten a bit scientific, but stay with me. I’ve compiled a list of the top 3 health benefits of sourdough for you below:
1. Prebiotic content
Sourdough is easier to digest than most other breads, due to its prebiotic content – which is non-digestible fibres that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This is why people often tout sourdough as the best choice for promoting a healthy gut.
Researchers say that regularly eating food with prebiotic content and probiotic-like properties, like sourdough, helps to improve your gut health, digestion and boost your immune system. It is even said to prevent some diseases.
2. Better source of minerals
Research suggests that the fermentation process of sourdough improves the bioavailability of fibre and minerals. This is due to the naturally occurring compound found in grains called phytic acid, which is broken down and helps us to better absorb the bread’s nutrients and minerals.
It’s for this reason that sourdough bread is a better source of minerals, especially magnesium, iron, and zinc.
The lactic acid bacteria in sourdough bread are responsible for increased antioxidants in the bread, compared to other types of bread. These antioxidants include vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids – all of which boast a wide range of health benefits, such as helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Antioxidants are known to protect your cells from damage that cause serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and more. If this isn’t a good reason to chow down on some sourdough, then I don’t know what is!
Final food for thought
So, you’ve made it this far. You’re probably wanting me to just come out and tell you which bread is healthiest. But, it’s not that simple.
Both sourdough and whole wheat bread are the healthier options among their bread brethren. However, which one is healthiest for you depends on what you’re looking for from your daily loaf. If you’re looking for a high fibre bread, then opt for whole wheat bread, whereas if you usually have digestion issues then sourdough is your best bet.
Still can’t decide? Why not both? You can combine the best of both worlds and bake your own whole wheat sourdough to reap the benefits of both types of bread. Oh, and it’s delicious, so there really is no downside to shaking things up in the kitchen and baking a hybrid sourdough.
Before you go, make sure you check us out on Instagram and tag us @youkneadsourdough, so I can feast my eyes on your beautiful sourdough creations.