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Calling all bread lovers

As a nutritional therapist, I am known to advocate a low-carb approach and bread is usually a rare treat. That is until I came across Charlotte Clif and her amazing sourdough bread. As I sit in her cosy farmhouse-style kitchen in Hendon (North-west London) munching this delicious bread and moaning how bad it is for my waistline, Charlotte tries to convince me that it is really beneficial. I am unconvinced, so I go away to do my own research, and am not ashamed to admit that I was wrong.

Although sourdough provides the same calories as regular bread, it has plenty of hidden benefits.

Sourdough is made by a long fermentation process and consequently has reduced phytate content. Phytates are compounds in many grains, seeds and legumes that bind to nutrients and prevent you from absorbing them[1]; meaning that sourdough bread has higher concentrations of many micronutrients than regular bread.

People who are sensitive to gluten might be able to eat sourdough bread as the gluten content is digested to such an extent by fermentation that it does not cause problems for gluten intolerance[2]. However, coeliacs should still avoid as there is insufficient evidence that it will not cause problems for them.

Sourdough bread might also be suitable for diabetics as it has a lower GI (glycaemix index) than regular bread[3]. Charlotte agrees wholeheartedly saying that her diabetic mother eats her sourdough bread daily and her blood sugar levels have never been better. It may also be helpful for weight loss[4], but it doesn’t give you licence to eat without limit!

Sourdough bread also lasts longer. The long fermentation kills off bad bacteria, keeping it fresher for longer. But being so delicious, it won’t last very long in my house!

So - why sourdough? Charlotte has always been into fermented foods. She makes her own sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi, and sourdough was something she always wanted to try but was initially overwhelmed by the long complicated process. Eventually, she gave in and has never looked back. She bakes every day and has recently started selling her bread to friends.

On her new venture, Charlotte says: “The response has been beyond anything I could imagine – people have standing orders with me and I am inundated, but I love it and I get a buzz out of seeing the sourdough starter bubbling”.

The loaves are priced between £4 and £6 – sounds pricey, right? But Charlotte explains that it takes a lot of time and love to make the perfect sourdough, and all her ingredients are organic. Varieties include: rustic white, kamut and spelt, malted grains with 5 seeds, olive, raisin and walnut, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Her sourdough is also strictly kosher and if you would like to order a loaf (and I highly recommend that you do), email Collection is from Hendon, NW4.

[1] Lopez, H. W., Krespine, V., Guy, G., Messager, A., Demigne, C., & Remesy, C. (2001). Prolonged fermentation of whole wheat sourdough reduces phytate level and increases soluble magnesium. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(5), 2657–2662.

[2] Rizzello, C. G., De Angelis, M., Coda, R., & Gobbetti, M. (2006). Use of selected sourdough lactic acid bacteria to hydrolyze wheat and rye proteins responsible for cereal allergy. European Food Research and Technology, 223(3), 405–411.

[3] De Angelis, Rizzello, C. G., Alfonsi, G., Arnault, P., Cappelle, S., Di Cagno, R., & Gobbetti, M. (2007). Use of sourdough lactobacilli and oat fibre to decrease the glycaemic index of white wheat bread. The British Journal of Nutrition, 98(2007), 1196–1205.

[4] Mofidi, A., Ferraro, Z. M., Stewart, K. A., Tulk, H. M. F., Robinson, L. E., Duncan, A. M., & Graham, T. E. (2012). The acute impact of ingestion of sourdough and whole-grain breads on blood glucose, insulin, and incretins in overweight and obese men. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012.

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