As the quest for healthier dietary choices continues, sourdough bread has emerged as a topic of considerable interest and debate. Renowned for its distinct tangy flavor and artisanal appeal, sourdough bread is often touted for its potential health benefits. However, amidst the myriad of bread options available, questions arise regarding the nutritional value and purported advantages of sourdough.

In this interview between Kim Arrey and Ken Connors, CJAD radio host, we delve into the intricacies of sourdough bread, exploring its potential health benefits, nutritional composition, and how it stacks up against other bread varieties. Through this conversation, we aim to unravel the truth behind the hype surrounding sourdough bread and provide valuable insights to help individuals make informed decisions about their dietary choices.


This podcast was aired on the Weekends with Ken Connors show on CJAD.


Ken Connors: Kim, I have become a sourdough bread aficionado.  It’s delicious.  And in fact I can buy a loaf and put quite a dent in it.  Please tell me that eating sourdough bread is a healthy choice.

Kim Arrey: Ken, I have a lot of clients who have switched to sourdough bread because they think it is healthier.  And in fact when I started looking at the research on the topic I found some really interesting results.  Many of the articles suggested that sourdough bread is healthier because of the different type of leavening agent that is used to make it.  Regular bread is made with yeast and sourdough bread is made with a “starter”, that is usually assumed to only contain “good ”  lactobacillaceae bacteria. 

Ken Connors: Before we get into the benefits, what is the difference between sourdough bread and regular bread?

Kim Arrey: To make regular bread you use yeast as a leavening agent.  Sourdough bread is made with a starter that is a fermentation.  This fermentation contains various  species of healthy bacteria and also some yeast that helps the bread to rise.  It is the bacterium and the species of yeasts in the starter that are thought to be responsible for the benefits of sourdough bread.

Ken Connors: Kim, I have heard that sourdough bread is gluten free?  Is that true?

Kim Arrey: Ken, sourdough bread is made from wheat, rye or barley flour contains less gluten but it is not gluten-free.  The bacterium in the starter that ferments the bread breaks down some of the gluten. Sourdough bread is not suitable for people with Celiac disease, but it might be ok for people with gluten sensitivity.  Other proteins that might be responsible for allergic or sensitivity reactions are also broken down, so sourdough bread might cause less inflammation than regular bread.  But if you have a wheat allergy you still have to avoid sourdough bread made with wheat.  Only people who have wheat sensitivity can try sourdough bread. 

However the fermentation that takes place when you make sourdough bread does break down some of the fermentable oligosaccharides that are suspected to aggravate Irritable bowel syndrome.  So people with IBS can benefit by choosing sourdough bread. 

Another benefit of choosing sourdough bread is that is contains less acrylamide than bread made with yeast.   Acrylamide is a chemical that is produced in the browning reaction that make the nice crust on your bread.  Acrylamide is a known to increase your risk of developing cancer.

Ken Connors: I also heard that sourdough bread does not raise your blood sugar as much as regular bread that is made with yeast.  Is that true?

Kim Arrey: Ken, that is a sort of.  Basically what happens when the wheat is treated with the sourdough starter is that the starches are not broken down as much as in regular bread.  So that means that the starch molecules are bigger and take longer to digest.  That is one of the reasons that researchers think that sourdough bread does not raise your blood sugar levels quite as quickly and quite as high as regular bread.  But the amount of fibre that is in sourdough bread might also contribute to this.  As I already mentioned sourdough bread is often made with whole-grain flour and maybe even has some flax or chia seeds added. 

Ken Connors: Kim this is sounding good.  But it does not sound like there are amazing benefits.  . 

Kim Arrey: Many of the reported benefits of sourdough bread have not been actually studied in humans.  Basically, many of the studies looked at what happens in a test tube or what happens in rats.  In 2023 a study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition asked the question: does sourdough bread provide any benefits that might be relevant in clinical practice. And they concluded that while there might be some clinical benefit to eating sourdough bread, probably the biggest benefits that you get from eating sourdough bread is actually pretty basic: sourdough bread is often baked in a local bakery or at home and can be made with whole grains, and it contains fewer additives and it is tastier.  Now that last benefit is somewhat controversial because some people might just get carried away and eat too much….