“Is sourdough bread low glycemic?” asks Shannon D. on today’s #AskWardee. I’m sharing my thoughts below!
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.)
- 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
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