Why is sourdough better for health?


Wild yeast are single-celled fungi that exist all around us. They feed on carbohydrates, and as they do so they release carbon dioxide, B vitamins, and alcohol. Because they release carbon dioxide, yeast can leaven bread, and because they convert carbohydrates to alcohol, brewers use yeast to make beer and wine, too. This is the fermentation process.

Although the beneficial wild yeast in the sourdough tend to be lost during the baking process, the fibre and plant compounds, called polyphenols, become more bio-available. These act as an important fuel source for our gut microbes, which makes sourdough bread a gut-friendly choice

Fermentation of food grains also improves bioavailability of minerals. Phytic acid is present in cereals bonded with iron, zinc, calcium and proteins. This bonding makes it difficult for the body to utilise the minerals in flour. The enzymatic degradation of phytic acid requires an optimum pH which can be provided by natural fermentation. Such a degradation of phytic acid can increase the amount of soluble iron, zinc and calcium absorbed by the gut. (Gupta, Gangolya and Singh 2015)

The fermentation process and higher fibre content makes sourdough a useful option for those with blood sugar management issues. This is because, unlike many commercially produced breads, sourdough has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. This especially true of rye sourdough.

Typically, diets high in fibre are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Sourdough appears to offer additional benefits thanks to the fermentation process; these benefits appear enhanced when wholegrain rye flour is used. All Heritage Bakehouse sourdough has whole rye in it.

Traditional sourdough undergoes a slow fermentation process, . This process starts the breakdown of protein (including gluten), making sourdough easier to digest.

Scottish Bannocks

  • 100 g plain flour
  • 65g beremeal
  •  2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 115 g medium oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • buttermilk or natural yogurt as required


  • preheat oven to 180C if using and grease a baking tray
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar into a large bowl
  • Add the oatmeal and and beremeal and mix well and rub in the butter
  • Add as much of the buttermilk or plain yogurt as you require to form a dough
  • Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly
  • Pat it into a round shape and press down till it is about 1cm thick all over and make a deep cross to form quarters
  • If baking place on prepared baking tray and into oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean
  • If using the hob place your bannock either in a hot girdle/griddle or in a flying pan (or hotplate of Aga) and brown on underside the turn over and do the other side
  • cool on a wire rack

What goes well with rye sourdough?

Radish allotment pickle

  • 8 oz radishes
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey or 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • Optional add-ins: garlic cloves, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, bay leaf

My radish are a mixture of Chinese and traditional British radish. Cut them in rounds. Sprinkle salt on them to soften them for a few minutes. Rinse off. Pop them in a sterile glass jar. Boil the rest of the ingredients and pour on the radish. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

Serve with rye sourdough and feta cheese or hummus.

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