The Bay Area's Healthiest Bread

by Grace McCalmon


The Bay Area’s Healthiest Bread

by Grace McCalmon

Bread. We love it. And there may be no better place to indulge than San Francisco, as The City by the Bay specializes in one such bread that’s easier to digest, contains fewer carbs, and even probiotic bacteria all in one delicious, crusty package. What is this magical San Francisco treat?  It’s sourdough, and here are four reasons why you don’t have to wait until race day (or cheat day) to chow down on this delicious and nutritious bread.

A true sourdough bread is leavened with a sourdough “starter.” The starter is made from flour and water that has been left to sit out for several days. During this time, the wild yeasts and lactobacilli bacteria naturally present in the flour ferment. A properly made sourdough bread dough is rich in probiotics, which are often called “good” or “beneficial” bacteria because they have been shown to play a significant role in many areas of our overall health, including digestion, immunity, and even metabolism. While the heat involved in baking kills most of the live bacteria, research shows that even dead bacteria can offer health benefits similar to the probiotics found in foods, or those in our SmartyPants Probiotic Complete gummies.

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The goal of all living things is survival, and plants, just like animals, have ways of protecting themselves. While animals’ protection comes in the form of claws, teeth, and the ability to run away, plants have more innate means of protection, such as hard outer shells, and certain chemical compounds, including lectins, phytic acid, and other enzyme inhibitors. These compounds, known as “antinutrients,” are indigestible, and allow the grain or seed to pass through the animal, emerging out the other end as a pre-fertilized seed, ready to grow. It’s an ingenious process, but one that can be hard on the human digestive system. 

Fortunately, the probiotic bacteria present in the fermentation of sourdough help break down these antinutrients so that the grain is more digestible.

A few scientific studies have put sourdough to the test and found that it is better tolerated by people suffering from digestive issues. Many others have simply performed their own taste tests and found that eating sourdough doesn’t come with the oh-so-attractive bloating and gas that often follows a delicious bowl of pasta.


Ah, gluten. The mysterious thing that everyone stopped eating a few years ago, but weren’t really sure why (for a good LOL see: Jimmy Kimmel “What is Gluten?”) Well, similar to phytic acid, lectins, and enzyme inhibitors, gluten is a family of proteins found in certain grains that can make them hard, and sometimes impossible, for some people to digest. But sourdough preparation significantly lowers gluten content, so this type of bread could be an option if you struggle with gluten-containing grains.


Is butter a carb?” No, Regina, it’s not. But bread definitely is, and while we runners love a good carb-load, you can have too much of a good thing.  If you’re keeping an eye on your intake, fermentation lowers both the sugar and carbohydrate content of grain. Woot woot! Additionally, research shows that eating fermented grains could support a healthy insulin response and may be helpful for people with blood sugar control issues.


Easier to digest, less gluten, and fewer carbs. Sounds like a bread-lovers dream. But, before you tuck into a bottomless bread bowl, be aware that most commercially made sourdough breads are not actually fermented. They just have a sour taste thanks to added flavoring agents. If you want to be sure your bread is truly made from fermented dough, the ingredient label should list a sourdough starter. If you’re dining or ordering out, ask your server how they make the bread.




Posted on March 23, 2017

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Grace McCalmon

Grace is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a graduate of Duke University. She received her nutrition certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association, and her training is based on the work of Dr. Weston A Price, as well as the latest peer-reviewed, scientific research.