Is Sourdough Bread Healthy?

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Written by: Niccole Ulrich, Nutritionist

The million dollar question: is sourdough bread healthy? Is it healthier than other breads? If you’re like me and eat it daily, you’ll be relieved to know that the answer is YES! The process of making sourdough bread influences its nutrient profile heavily. Two very simple ingredients of flour and water are mixed and placed in the hands of time and temperature to go through a fermentation process. While this doesn’t require much from us except “hurry up and wait”, there’s a lot going on during that fermentation process. The fermentation process lends itself to a variety of health benefits once we actually bake and eat the bread.

sliced sourdough sandwich bread on a round cutting board with a striped tea towel underneath

What’s the difference between sourdough bread and other bread?

Traditional breads use something called a leavening agent like yeast, baking powder, baking soda, etc. These are used to help the dough expand and rise by releasing air or gasses within the dough mixture. Essentially, it catapults the small ball of dough into a lighter, expanded dough that is then baked and forms the soft, fluffy bread. In sourdough bread, the fermented product that we use called “sourdough starter” is the leavening agent. A mature sourdough starter is fed flour and water which activates the good bacteria and wild yeast. As it feeds off the flour it produces carbon dioxide bubbles. Once it has grown to double in size or more and is bubbly along the sides and top it is ready to use as a leaven for the bread.

cut open sourdough bread next to a jar of active sourdough starter and a jar of dehyrdated sourdough starter on marble

The Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

The three health benefits of sourdough bread we will talk through in this article include enhanced digestion, lower blood sugar, and bioavailable nutrients. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Those words make you want to tune out in fear of this sounding like the lecture your doctor gives at your annual physical. But no need to worry! I’m going to break it down to the simplest form to answer the question is sourdough bread healthy. So pull up a seat while you enjoy another slice, and enjoy some light reading about what that slice is doing in your body to help support your goal of a long, healthy life.


Ongoing research shows that our bodies can have difficulty processing gluten, especially in overwhelming amounts. Some of the symptoms that can manifest especially for people that have gluten irritations include bloating, gas, and upset stomachs. Poor digestion can lead to inflammation in the body, and inflammation is a breeding ground for many chronic diseases.

Unique to the fermentation process in sourdough bread is the fact that it breaks down the gluten which is otherwise present in all other wheat containing breads. Although flour is added to the bread dough, over time, the fermented starter breaks down the gluten in the newly added flour (just as it breaks down the flour that’s added to the initial sourdough starter). The fermentation process also reduces levels of FODMAP’s, a type or carbohydrate that can cause bowel irritation.

Although it is not considered gluten free, people with gluten sensitivities may be able to digest sourdough bread much easier. However those with Celiac’s Disease would need to make gluten-free sourdough. For help with gluten free sourdough check out A Couple of Celiacs.

Blood Sugar

Branching off of digestion, after the food is digested it enters into the bloodstream. Eating carbohydrates naturally cause a rise in blood sugar when they’re digested. However, some foods cause a more drastic spike/fall in those glucose levels. You’ve likely experienced the physical manifestation of this that feels like an “energy crash.” Frequently experiencing these extreme surges of high blood sugar can increase our risk of diseases, like diabetes. Foods that cause a rapid, significant rise in blood sugar are referred to as “high glycemic” foods. In comparison, sourdough is a “low glycemic” food. This means it has a more gentle effect and our glucose levels don’t take such a drastic hit.

As sourdough ferments, the starch and gluten interact in such a way that it reduces the biological effect of the starch and of the overall bread. The starch becomes more resistant, quite literally it resists digestion! Because it takes longer for the body to digest, like in the case of protein and fat, it contributes to a more stable blood sugar as it’s slowly released into the blood.

Bioavailable Nutrients

During the long fermentation process phytic acid is broken down. This is helpful because phytic acid binds to minerals which prevents our body from absorbing the nutrients. Once the phytic acid is broken down the minerals are available for the body to absorb. Because of this sourdough bread is a better source of minerals, especially magnesium, iron and zinc than traditional yeasted breads.

half loaves of sourdough bread on a cooling rack next to a knife next to multiple slices of sourdough bread on a cutting board

Take My Online Class

Ready to start making sourdough bread? My online class will teach you everything you need to know to make delicious artisan bread from home on any schedule and at any skill level. Set yourself up for success with clear, concise explanations, easy to follow recipes, and a few extra bonuses. Plus, get access to my private mentoring group, my eBook All Roads Lead to Sourdough, and some of my 100+ year old dehydrated sourdough starter (if you live in the USA).

Enroll in the class ->

Whether you’re here for the nutrition facts, or they just happen to be a pleasant bonus on your sourdough journey, you won’t regret picking up this habit and adopting it into your life. Sourdough bread continues to check all the boxes: it tastes amazing, it’s something anyone can do, and it’s good FOR you!

Sourdough Recipes You Need To Try

Parmesan, Asiago and Hot Honey Sourdough Bread with pink himilayan salt and sourdough starter.
woman in a white shirt and jeans standing on a colored background wall

Author’s Note

Hey there, my name is Niccole Ulrich. I am a mom, Nutritionist, food photographer, and raving fan/student of Emily’s here at Country Roads Sourdough. I’ve spent over five years studying about food and how it works in our body. I am all about finding tips, tools, tricks, and hobbies that make life even sweeter. Like a lot of us, I have a desire to live a healthy life while enjoying food that’s just downright good. When those two worlds collide, we get things like sourdough! That’s where you and I become instant friends, why we both landed on this blog. So, let me tell you a little about sourdough.