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Sourdough’s keto and vegan credentials

Apr 8, 2021

Have you gone keto or vegan – or are you considering making the switch?

These two lifestyle diets are among the hottest food trends right now.

They seem like direct opposites: while keto is about cutting out the carbs and upping your fat and protein, vegan says ‘no’ to all animal products. But both require a bit of rethinking when it comes to what you put on your plate.

So if bread is one of your big food loves, you’re probably keen to keep it on your ‘can eat’ list. Maybe you’ve considered sourdough – another 2020 favourite – as an alternative?

But is sourdough actually keto? Is it vegan ? And what specific health benefits does it offer for these diets? Let’s take a look.

Is sourdough keto?

The answer to ‘Is sourdough keto?’ can be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

That’s because sourdough’s keto credentials can vary from bread to bread. A standard sourdough loaf is made from two simple ingredients, flour and water – or three, if you add salt.

So standard sourdough isn’t keto, because standard, all-purpose flour is made from grain (usually wheat), meaning it’s high-carb . Therefore, anyone following a strict ketogenic diet should avoid it.

But the good news is that sourdough doesn’t actually have to contain wheat flour. Many delicious sourdough recipes use wheat- and gluten-free flour alternatives, such as almond flour or coconut flour.

Not only do these flours mean that you can say ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is sourdough gluten-free?’, but they also push the carb levels way down. So ketos, celiacs and gluten-intolerant bread-lovers can all rejoice!

That said, some researchers believe that sourdough’s fermentation process may modify the structure of carb molecules, reducing the bread’s glycaemic index (GI). So, even sourdough made with standard flour may be less of a ‘no-no’ if your keto diet isn’t strict.

Is sourdough vegan?

Again, ‘Is sourdough vegan?’ has a bit of a ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’ answer. And the answer to, ‘Is sourdough dairy-free?’ is ‘not always’ as well.

That’s because, as we said above, the traditional sourdough recipe contains flour, water and salt. That means it contains no animal products other than tiny lactobacilli bacteria, which most vegans would deem okay to eat.

However, other sourdough recipes do include animal products – such as milk, yoghurt or egg – to add moisture to the loaf. While this isn’t overly common, it is something to note when you do your shopping or see sourdough on the menu.

You’re generally better off buying bakery-fresh sourdough over store brought , as bakeries typically don’t use animal products . However, some bakers might use a brush of egg or honey on top of the loaf to help it brown. Plus, they might sometimes grease the sourdough tin with animal products such as lard.

Another thing to be aware of is that commercial sourdough can sometimes be contaminated with animal ingredients during the production process. This happens when other products containing ingredients such as egg or milk are made on the same lines.

To avoid unwanted animal products, always check the labels. You may also want to avoid anything that ‘contains traces’ of these products.

Sourdough’s keto and vegan health benefits

So, good news all around. If you follow a keto or vegan diet, you can still enjoy biting into a delicious slice of sourdough. You’ve just got to check the recipe and labels.

But there’s more to say about these two diets when it comes to this popular bread. Not only does sourdough generally get the green light for consumption, but it also offers a range of health benefits that complement weight loss, keto, and vegan diets.

Vitamin and mineral-rich

On any type of diet, getting the right amount of minerals and nutrients is essential. And sourdough beats the standard white loaf of bread hands down in terms of its vitamin and mineral content.

Some of the key nutrients that sourdough provides are iron and selenium – which protect the immune system, cells and tissues – and B vitamins.

B vitamins are important as they assist in proper nervous system function, and they’re one of the vitamin groups that vegans often struggle to get enough of. Some B vitamins can also boost metabolism, which is great if you’re using keto to lose weight.

Plus, sourdough is also high in protein. In fact, a single slice of sourdough has as much protein as one egg – helping both ketos and vegans to get enough of this building-block nutrient.

Prebiotic and probiotic power

Probiotics and prebiotics are great for gut health – and their presence in sourdough gives it another tick. While the probiotics created during sourdough’s fermentation process actually die when the bread bakes, goodness remains in the form of prebiotics – a type of fibre that our gut bacteria use as a food source.

When the natural probiotic bacteria in our gut feed on these prebiotics, they release nutrients. And the prebiotic fibre in ancient grains – including spelt in particular – works wonders for digestion. That means sourdough benefits not just ketos and vegans, but anyone who wants to be healthier.

Say ‘yes’ to sourdough!

So there you have it. Whether you’re asking, ‘Is sourdough keto?’, ‘Is it vegan?’ or have other, similar sourdough-and-diet-related questions, now you know the answer.

As long as you ask your baker or check the label, sourdough is go!

Add in the fact that it has lots of other health benefits if you’re following either a keto or vegan diet, and saying ‘yes’ to sourdough is a no-brainer.

That’s good news for bread-lovers who don’t want their diet to curb their crust love.

Feast your eyes on our acclaimed artisan sourdough collection and support The Bread & Butter Project by purchasing one of our keto- and vegan-friendly loaves. Available in select Woolworths Metros, Harris Farm Markets and local grocers.

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