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Is sourdough bread really that much better for you?

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Photo: Stocksy/Suzi Marshall

Chances are, you won’t catch your nutritionist at the supermarket buying a loaf of Wonder Bread. In general, bread just isn’t considered all that good for you. (You’ve heard the rumblings about gluten being linked to causing inflammation, right?) But for many, sourdough gets a free pass, or is at least thought of as “not as bad.”

“There are people that have a genuine gluten intolerance, and then I think [there are] a lot of people who think they do. If they ate bread that’s undergone a long sourdough fermentation, they wouldn’t have any problems,” Michael Pollan famously said last year.

“To our great shock and surprise, we found no significant differences between the two breads.”

But what about how sourdough bread affects the body, particularly glucose levels? (After all, sugar is a big reason why many pass on the bread basket.) One study, brought to light by The Atlantic, offers up some unexpected intel: Healthwise, sourdough isn’t a step up from run-of-the-mill loaves.

In the study, participants were split into two groups. They fed one sourdough bread for a week while the other feasted on white bread. The following week, they measured their blood levels and checked out their guts. The findings? There wasn’t really that much of a difference.

“To our great shock and surprise, we found no significant differences between the two breads on any of the parameters that we collected,” says Eran Segal, one of the study’s lead researchers. Some people in the white bread group had a higher blood sugar level, while some in the sourdough group did. And when it came to checking out participants’ microbiomes, the two groups’ bacteria looked pretty much the same.

While the findings are definitely interesting, the researchers admit that more testing needs to be done. As far as what this means for your bread habit? It’s safe to say that moderation—of any type of bread—is the way to go, to keep sugar issues from taking over your life. As they say, go with your gut (health).

Speaking of bread, here are the best gluten-free ones, based on nutrition and taste. And if you prefer to make your own, this alt-flour guide will come in handy.