“Is sourdough bread low glycemic?” asks Shannon D. on today’s #AskWardee. I’m sharing my thoughts below!
I broadcast #AskWardee live each Wednesday at 10am Pacific (1pm Eastern) on Periscope and Facebook Live. Both the podcast and video replay of this week’s show are below. Enjoy!
Subscribe to #AskWardee on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, or the Podcasts app.
The Question: “Is sourdough bread low glycemic?”
Shannon D. asks:
I have a question that sort of dove tails on the lighter fluffier sourdough question that you recently went over. I stumbled upon information on how whole grains aren’t healthy because they cause blood sugar to spike because they are high glycemic. This information came from a cookbook author who wrote a cookbook on low glycemic breads and baked goods. I was wondering about your take on this and if you could tell me if sourdough breads cause blood sugar to spike like other whole grain breads.
First, what is the glycemic index?
“The glycemic index [GI] a system that ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood-sugar levels.”
The purpose of this scale is so that sensitive individuals can judge the impact a particular food will have on their blood sugar, and either eat or avoid it accordingly. This is very important for diabetics in managing blood sugar, or even those who have been told they are at risk for developing diabetes.
Now, that rank is from 1 to 100, but that means nothing without context.
- High GI foods are ranked at 70 or greater — like potatoes
- Medium GI foods are ranked at 56 to 69 — like sweet potatoes and corn; sweeter fruits like pineapple and apricots; and millet
- Low GI foods are ranked at 55 or lower — like carrots and other moderately sweet vegetables, most other fruits, most nuts/seeds; beans; dairy; and most grains
- Very Low GI foods are ranked below any of these because they have no impact on blood sugar or no established GI value — like non-starchy vegetables; spices; herbs; and meats and seafood
By the way, this information comes from The World’s Healthiest Foods.
The high GI foods cause a sudden and extreme spike in blood sugar levels, while medium/low GI foods produce a more gradual increase.
I’m not sure where this author got the idea that whole grains are high GI, because they all look to be on the medium GI list to me. Unless it’s because they’re ground up to make bread and grinding is a process that makes the grains more readily digestible and the sugars faster metabolized.
Now, to Shannon’s question…
Sourdough Bread And Blood Sugar
Based on the research I have seen, regular non-sourdough white bread has a glycemic index of 71 (that’s High GI), while sourdough bread has a glycemic index of 53 (that’s Low GI).
This means sourdough is a very effective method for lowering the glycemic index of the bread!
Yet, how does sourdough lower the glycemic index?
The bacteria and yeast consume the starches and sugars in the flour, so it has less starch when you eat it. Also, I saw research that suggested that the beneficial acids in sourdough (produced by the beneficial organisms in the starter) can help with blood sugar and digestion, too.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Just because sourdough bread is considered a low GI food does not mean one should eat to excess. A lot of bread is still a lot of bread.
One slice is still one serving of grains.
If you’re managing diabetes or blood sugar, you can (and should) decide what’s allowable for you.
And like with anything health-related, do your own research, pay attention to your body’s responses, and proceed with caution. One size does not necessarily fit all.
I would suggest also looking into ancient grains like einkorn. Einkorn has 1/2 the amount of starch as modern wheat. Combined with sourdough, I speculate your bread will be even lower than a GI of 53. (Though I don’t have proof of this… it’s just logical.)
If you’re interested in learning more about sourdough, grab my free sourdough starter instructions and also my free einkorn no-knead bread recipe. Together, they’re a powerhouse!
- Free Sourdough Starter Instructions
- Free No-Knead Artisan Einkorn Bread Recipe
- The World’s Healthiest Foods
- Einkorn 101
- 4 Reasons I <3 Einkorn
- 30 Traditionally Prepared Einkorn Goodies
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee Show is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about Traditional Cooking: whether it’s your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking or your GNOWFGLINS lifestyle.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
Where: @TradCookSchool on Periscope or Traditional Cooking School on Facebook
What If You Can’t Make It?
Don’t worry. You can catch the replays or listen to the podcast!
- Come back here to AskWardee.TV; all replays will be up within hours of airing live; the print notes are always posted at the same time I go live.
- Follow @TradCookSchool on Periscope or Traditional Cooking School on Facebook to view the replay.
- Subscribe to the #AskWardee podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, or the Podcasts app. While you’re there, be sure to leave a rating and review!
Want To Get YOUR Question Answered?
Here’s how to submit your question. If we answer it on #AskWardee, you’ll get a gift!
Or, you can…
- Tweet your question to @TradCookSchool on Twitter; use hashtag #AskWardee
- Send an email to wardee at AskWardee dot tv — add #AskWardee to your email so I know it’s for the show
Please do NOT add future questions for #AskWardee to the comments of this post because they might get missed!
Do you follow a low glycemic lifestyle? Do you find that sourdough bread raises your blood sugar?
save time, spend less, and get healthy... simple & delicious traditionally-cooked meals using ingredients you already have... even leftovers... 30 min or less!
free worksheet + videos:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes... While Spending $0 Extra!
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).
Ok, Sourdough is a Low GI. That makes sense. Would non-wheat flours make a difference with the glycemic impact though? Just curious.
Any flours that have less starch than wheat will be lower on the GI index. So yes, there could be a difference. It depends on which flour though. 🙂
Traditional Cooking School
Do you have an egg free option for paleo sourdough? Very interested in your classes, I am a wellness coach and do healthy cooking classes, your classes would allow me to take my health and my clients to the next level of health!
Hi Coach Pam!
Wonderful. We’re excited to have you join our classes. 🙂
You may wish to leave a comment on Megan’s post for Paleo Sourdough to ask about egg-free. She may have a recipe or tips: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/2016/02/09/grain-free-sourdough-bread-paleo/
I’m wondering about carbohydrate content of the sourdough starter. Is it different because partially digested and thus “alcoholic”? Thanks!
Carbohydrates are reduced in a sourdough starter, because the organisms have consumed the starch in the flour. Acids, such as vinegar and lactic acid, are produced as a byproduct of the organisms eating the starch.
Traditional Cooking School
Yes- I help people with weight loss and have them log food. How many carbs are we talking in loss? Minimal?
Can you make sourdough sprouted wheat bread? If so, do you use just like wheat flour?
Can you use sprouted wheat flour in you sourdough bread? If so, does it change the recipe? Would this have an even lower glycemic index?
Yes, you can use sprouted flour for sourdough bread. We speculate that yes, it would have a lower GI, but that is reasoning it out rather than finding that info somewhere.
Traditional Cooking School