Whole Grains Are Healthier
“Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel,” says the Whole Grains Council. “Reﬁning normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, and the grain is otherwise greatly reduced in at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich reﬁned grains, so reﬁned products still contribute valuable nutrients. But whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more ﬁber, and many important vitamins and minerals.”
By whole wheat sourdough bread, I mean whole wheat bread that is bulk fermented with a natural sourdough starter, that is, with levain that was five days in the making. Much of what is sold in markets as sourdough bread is made mechanized and does not have the same bubbles and chewy consistency as good sourdough. There aren’t any laws as to what can be called sourdough bread, and ingredient lists on the bread package can be very misleading as they often do not give percentages. If it does not say ‘whole wheat’ at the start of the ingredients list and ‘sourdough starter’ instead of only ‘yeast’ at least at the end, it may be perfectly fine bread, but it is not the ‘real thing’ to me.
Fewer Empty Carbs
Refined foods are often stripped of almost all bran and germ, including all fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them “empty” calories. Empty carbs refer to any highly processed carbohydrate that contains less fiber. They are often referred to as “bad carbs” and can sabotage any healthy diet, contribute to weight gain, and increase the risk for serious health problems.
To its credit, white bread doesn’t have added sugars like so many ‘junk foods,’ but it doesn’t bring much to the table, either. A more natural source of ‘good’ carbohydrates should be preferable: fermented whole wheat!
I stay away from the empty carbs of bleached white flour. Bleached white flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while whole wheat flour is made from grains that have not undergone heavy processing. Some reasonable recipes might call for a bit of white flour, strong flour, or bread flour. I bake with a lower percentage of bread flour − a lesser evil, so to speak.
As a native German, I was not raised on sliced white bread but on rustic ‘Mischbrot,’ a bread from a wheat and rye dough mix. Similar to wheat flour, different rye flours are determined by how much of the rye kernel — i.e., the endosperm, bran, and germ — is present. The more rye kernel there is, the darker the flour. This also means a more intense rye flavor and often a denser texture in your final baked goods. I may use a little rye in my whole wheat sourdough bakes.
I understand that commercial or industrial bakers need to cut a few corners to be profitable. They may add enzymes and sugars, use white AP flour, and unfiltered tap water. They may spike the dough with yeast and vinegar and skip cold-fermenting the dough overnight. They may include preservatives and freeze the bread to account for days of delivery to the store. I want none of that.
Eat Premium Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread And Perhaps Lose Some Weight
Five years ago, a nurse told me that she now considered me obese at 5’10” in height and 224 lbs of weight. I was shocked and immediately started to go on a Keto diet of the fewest possible carbs − cutting out almost all sugars − like pastries, ice cream, and flavored yogurts. However, I did not give up my daily IPA.
A year and a half later, I had lost 35 lbs and felt much better. I had no problems keeping my weight at 200 lbs ever since, simply being mindful of my low-sugar calorie intake then. Brown rice and cauliflower pizza from Costco became my treats.
In June of 2023, I got hooked on baking whole wheat sourdough bread simply because of its mouthfeel, aroma, and taste and all. I was a bit afraid that carbs would get my weight back up, but they have not. I am eating my whole-wheat sourdough bread instead of potatoes, brown rice, or pasta. And I am down to 193 lbs this late in August 2023, without giving up my daily IPA (beer). Premium whole wheat sourdough bread is very satisfying! Fermented food matters.
The Fermentation Miracle
Fermentation is a process in which sugars are transformed into a new product through chemical reactions carried out by wild microorganisms. Since the Neolithic age, humans have used natural fermentation to develop and preserve foods, medicines, and fuels. Baking bread is one of humanity’s oldest civilized rituals.
Fermentation is used for preservation in a process that produces lactic acid found in such sour foods as pickled cucumbers, kombucha, kimchi, and yogurt, as well as for producing alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer.
It is said that sourdough bread can improve digestion, boost immunity, promote a healthy weight, and more. For all of its goodness, please note that sourdough bread does not contain probiotic cultures.
Here is what Consumer’s Report has to say about sourdough bread.
And here is a great recipe for whole wheat bread from King Arthur Baking: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/high-hydration-whole-wheat-sourdough-bread-recipe