Science Finds Another Reason to Eat More Sourdough Bread
February 25, 2013

Science Finds Another Reason To Eat More Sourdough Bread

So, last year as I was driving the Coastal highway from San Francisco to Seattle (as I do every year with my boyfriend), we heard a podcast from Terry Gross’ Fresh Air. The interview was with a man named Sandor Katz, who is a fermentation king. He has written a couple of books including Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live Culture Foods, which talks about the benefits of fermentation, has recipes, and discusses foods that are live culture.

One of those foods is sourdough bread. I have long been a fan of sourdough, and since we heard it, we have been making our own sourdough bread from his starter recipe. It is tasty and provides the live cultures important to healthy living.

Well, I learned of another reason to eat and love sourdough bread. According to a statement from the American Society for Microbiology, sourdough bread resists molding.

Michael Gaenzle and his colleagues at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, explained the benefits of learning about this magnificent bit of food and health information. The press release explains, “The major benefits from the research are twofold: better tasting bread, says Gaenzle, because ‘preservatives can be eliminated from the recipes, and because sourdough bread has a more distinct and richer flavor compared to bread produced with yeast only;’ and novel tools to control fungi in malting and plant production, via treatment of seeds with the anti-fungal fatty acids.”

The bread has a better taste because it will have less preservatives. In a world where our foods are stock full of preservatives, I like learning about a food that provides sustenance and health without the use of preservatives. My concern with preservatives is that they are, by nature, meant to preserve the foods. If we eat those foods, we will ingest those preservatives; there must be some affect from that, and some of that affect might not be so good.

The statement went on to say, “In the study, ‘we offered linoleic acid to lactobacilli and screened for organisms producing potent antifungal activity,’ says Gaenzle. The investigators then fractionated the metabolites to isolate and identify compounds with antifungal activity. ‘The identification was a bottleneck in the research project,’ says Gaenzle. ‘In collaboration with analytical chemists, we had to develop novel methods for identifying the compounds.'”

What they found was two anti-fungal fatty acids battled off the mold. However, they did not affect the flavor nor were they synthetic like some preservatives are. All of this leads to better bread with lots of flavor.

To be able to transfer this knowledge to other breads in order to make healthier bread with less additives will be very good. I know many, many people who will benefit from this research. I hope to see the fruits of the labors of Gaenzle and his team soon. This news is good for me because I am allergic to mold and all its byproducts (including the all-healing penicillin), so a bread that resists molding is a bread I want more of. Yay Science!

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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