Real Nutrition is Part III of a seven-part sourdough bread class at Abigail’s Oven taught by Martha Levie.
- Real Yeast
- Real Wheat
- Real Nutrition (this post)
- Real Water
- Real Salt
- Real Flavor
- Real World Tradition
This course centers on the “Real 7” things you need to make wholesome, nutritious bread at home.
3. Real Nutrition
At Abigail’s Oven, our flour is unbleached, unbromated, and unfortified. It is made from real wheat, like we talked about in the last post.
Bleached flour is made using potassium bromate, which conditions the flour so that your dough is softer, but it’s also a cancer-causing chemical. Fortification is done to flour because the government noticed millers were taking wheat and sifting out the bran and the germ, which is where all the nutrients are. They told millers they couldn’t sell powder that has no nutritional value, that’s wrong. You need to take care of that.”
|Bromated flour contains potassium bromate, an oxidizing agent widely used in commercial baking to strengthen and improve dough and promote rising. Some brands of flour sold in supermarkets for home use contain potassium bromate. Concerns about bromated flour stem from studies dating back to 1982 that found that the chemical causes several types of cancer in lab rats. For that reason, potassium bromate is considered “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and bromated flour is banned by a number of governments including the European Union, Canada, Brazil, Peru and China.—Dr. Andrew Weil, MD|
The millers responded by adding in zinc, copper, and the iron, but they used metal instead of plant-based minerals, which means these fortified minerals aren’t really digestible for humans.
My husband, Alan Levie, asked our wheat farmer if we could get unfortified flour. The farmer asked what was wrong with fortified, and Alan described the metal additives.
The farmer couldn’t believe it, but when the two of them asked the miller about it, he took the lid off a barrel and showed them the iron shavings they used. He said, “This is what we do. We sprinkle it over it and then we mix it in. And I’ll show you something cool.” He pulled out a big magnet, put the magnet over the flour, and up came the metal filings.
You can actually see this for yourself if you get iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Soak them in water, get a magnet, and pull it up (you can also see it on YouTube). You’ll see fine filings because the cereal is fortified with your daily amount of iron, copper, and zinc. But it’s all from the ground and we can’t digest it.
The natural way to get iron, copper, and zinc is through plants that put their roots in the ground and soak up minerals, which we then eat and digest. We can’t digest rocks; it’s just not how we were made.
We use unfortified flour and it’s awesome. It’s ground super fine so that it looks like white flour, but it hasn’t been sifted. It looks just like white flour and acts like white flour because it has been ground so finely. This is real wheat.
You want to have real wheat that has not been hybridized or genetically modified, made into flour that hasn’t been bleached, bromated, or fortified. This kind of wheat will provide real nutrition. When you combine real flour and real yeast, you get really nutritious bread.
Real Nutrition and Phytic acid
Whole wheat has minerals, several kinds of vitamin B, folic acid, and other amazingly nutritious things. But you can’t access them unless you either ferment the wheat or sprout it. This is partly due to phytic acid.
Phytic acid is something that inhibits your body from absorbing vitamins and nutrients and it’s very heavy in wheat. It helps the wheat by deterring bugs and pests, but is not helpful for us.
Sprouted Wheat Flour and Sourdough
“Sprouted wheat increases nutrients’ availability for absorption, and because the flour is bolted, the crumb is relatively open yet still full of the tastiness of bran and germ.”—Breadtopia
You have to dissolve the phytic acid in wheat if you want to access the vitamins and minerals. Fermenting and sprouting dissolve this acid. That’s why sprouting is so good for you, especially sprouting wheat because it dissolves that phytic acid.
Sprouted wheat flour and sourdough bread are the two healthiest kinds of bread that you can eat. Using either in bread making will give you an amazing product that is filled with nutrition, though sprouted wheat bread can result in a poor rise and a weak crumb.
Sourdough as a Prebiotic for Real Nutrition
These days, people are really getting into fermenting and probiotics. People often ask if our sourdough bread has probiotics. The answer is no, because lactobacilli die at 140 degrees. So the probiotic that was in our sourdough starter dies in the baking process. But because we fermented it, our wheat is very high in prebiotic, which is an indigestible substance to humans, but it is food for probiotics to grow. The prebiotics in sourdough provide the manure that probiotics thrive in.
When you eat sourdough, the prebiotic goes down into your gut and feeds the probiotics you already have there and makes them thrive. You can get probiotics from things like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir and then feed them with your prebiotic.
The real nutrition in sourdough is number three of the “Real 7.”
(Next Monday, look for four three in this series: The “7 Reals” of Sourdough Bread.)