Fermented foods are bacteria that help us digest our food and break down the nutrients. These probiotics give you an outstanding balance in your gut health, contributing to overall health.
Fermentation is a process that is utilized to make some of the world’s favorite foods and drinks, whether you recognize it or not. So what are some examples of fermented foods? Wine, beer, yogurt, aged cheeses, and even chocolate and coffee are fermented foods.
Yogurt, along with the closely related kefir, is one of the most popular fermented foods globally, having been enjoyed in some regions of the globe for thousands of years.
Throughout history, fermenting foods allowed our forefathers to extend the freshness of grains, vegetables, and milk that were accessible to them at various times of the year.
Making a big batch of fermented foods to have ready to eat in your refrigerator is rather straightforward. They should keep the beneficial bacteria for a long time because of the beneficial bacteria they contain. The most practical method to get a daily dosage of probiotic bacteria that supports gut health and more is to consume fermented (or “cultured”) foods.
According to studies, these foods may help with general health in a variety of ways, including:
- enhancing digestion and cognitive performance
- enhancing immunity
- assisting in the treatment of irritable bowel illness
- supplying bone-density-building minerals
- assisting in the battle against allergies
- destroying yeast and bacteria that are harmful
15 Best Fermented Foods
A list of some of the greatest fermented foods to incorporate into your diet is provided below:
Kefir is a consumable yogurt-like fermented milk product prepared from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk. Vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes, and probiotics are all found in significant amounts in kefir.
Kefir has been ingested in some form or another for over 3,000 years. The name “kefir” was coined in Russia and Turkey to describe a drink that makes you feel wonderful.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink produced with sugar (from various sources such as cane sugar, fruit, or honey). When coupled with sugar, it includes a colony of bacteria and yeast that kicks off the fermentation process.
Is alcohol present in fermented foods like kombucha? Kombucha contains tiny levels of alcohol but not enough to be intoxicating or even perceptible.
Other fermented foods, such as yogurt or fermented vegetables, are often alcohol-free.
Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional meals, having 2,000-year-old or more origins in German, Russian, and Chinese cuisine. Although the Germans were not the first to manufacture sauerkraut, the word sauerkraut literally means “sour cabbage.” (It’s thought that the Chinese were.)
Sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B, made from fermented green or red cabbage. In addition, iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese, and magnesium are all abundant in it.
Is sauerkraut from the supermarket fermented? Not always, particularly when it comes to canned or processed foods.
Real, traditional, fermented sauerkraut must be kept chilled, is commonly preserved in glass jars, and the package/label must state that it is fermented.
Didn’t realize pickles had probiotics? Fermented pickles are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as anti-oxidants and probiotic bacteria that are good for your stomach.
Is it true that store-bought pickles are fermented? Normally, no.
Most store-bought pickles are produced using vinegar and cucumbers, which, although giving them a sour flavor, do not result in natural fermentation. Instead, cucumbers and brine (salt + water) should be used to make fermented pickles.
What brand of pickles should you buy if you want to get some probiotics? Look for “lactic acid fermented pickles” prepared by a company that employs organic materials and brine, refrigerates the pickles, and specifies that the pickles have been fermented when purchasing a jar of pickles.
You can purchase some of the greatest probiotics for your health by locating a local producer, such as at a farmers’ market.
Miso is made by fermenting soybeans, barley, or brown rice with the fungus koji. It’s a classic Japanese ingredient used in miso soup and other dishes.
It has been a part of the Chinese and Japanese diets for over 2,500 years.
Tempeh, a foodstuff prepared by mixing soybeans with a tempeh starter, is another nutritious fermented food manufactured using soybeans (which is a mix of live mold). After a day or two, it transforms into a solid, cake-like product that contains both probiotics and a substantial amount of protein.
Tempeh resembles tofu, but it is less spongy and more “grainy.”
Natto is a popular Japanese snack made from fermented soybeans. It is often served with soy sauce, karashi mustard, and Japanese bunching onion as a morning dish in Japan.
It produces a pungent odor, rich taste, and sticky, slimy texture after fermentation, which not everyone who is new to natto loves.
Kimchi is a classic Korean fermented meal prepared with vegetables such as cabbage and spices such as ginger, garlic, pepper, and other seasonings. It’s often used in Korean dishes such as rice bowls, ramen, and bibimbap.
It goes back to the seventh century and is considered a Korean delicacy.
9. Raw Cheddar
Raw milk cheeses are created using unpasteurized milk. Therefore, probiotics such as thermophillus, bifidus, bulgaricus, and acidophilus are abundant in goat milk, sheep milk, and A2 cow soft cheeses.
Read the ingredient list to discover true fermented/aged cheeses, and search for cheese that has not been pasteurized. Instead, the cheese’s label should state that it is raw and has been matured for at least six months.
Is yogurt the same as fermented milk? In essence, yes.
Yogurt and kefir are special dairy products since they are widely accessible and among many people’s most popular probiotic foods. In the United States and many other developed countries, probiotic yogurt is currently the most popular fermented dairy product.
When purchasing yogurt, three factors should be kept in mind:
- First, if you have difficulties digesting cow’s milk, it comes from goat or sheep milk.
- It’s created from grass-fed milk from grass-fed cows.
- It’s all-natural.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar with “the mother” has been fermented and includes some probiotics. It also includes specific acids, such as acetic acid, which help probiotics and prebiotics operate properly in your stomach.
Most store vinegar, on the other hand, is devoid of probiotics.
Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a drink twice a day. To significantly raise probiotic levels, add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your diet before breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and then start eating more fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi or drinking kvass.
Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage with a beer-like flavor. It goes through the same fermenting process as kombucha and includes probiotics.
It’s produced from stale sourdough rye bread and is called a non-alcoholic beverage since it only has 0.5 to 1% alcohol content. However, it is more vulnerable to turning alcoholic since it ferments longer.
If you’ve never had kvass before, it has a sour, earthy, salty flavor that might be difficult to get used to. Therefore, it is often brewed with tastes from fruits (such as raisins and strawberries) and herbs (such as mint) to make it more palatable.
13. Sourdough Bread
Although certain traditional bread, such as true sourdough, is fermented, they do not contain probiotics. Fermentation aids in the absorption of nutrients present in grains and lowers antinutrient content, making digestion difficult.
14. Cottage Cheese
Food makers are starting to make probiotic dairy products such as cottage cheese more widely accessible as more research confirms the benefits of probiotics. Cottage cheese, like yogurt, may be fermented when bacteria aid in the breakdown of lactose (a form of sugar) in the dairy.
Look for cottage cheese that is low in sugar and has active cultures while shopping. Some varieties are also known as farmer’s cheese or dry curd cottage cheese.
15. Kefir made with coconut
Coconut kefir is a fantastic option for individuals who can’t have dairy. This probiotic-rich drink is prepared with creamy coconut milk and kefir grains, but it’s dairy-free and vegan-friendly, unlike conventional kefir or yogurt.
You may use it in smoothies, baked products, with fruit, on its own, and so on. Choose products that are low in sugar or unflavored, then flavor with stevia, fruit, or honey if desired.
Why are fermented foods beneficial to your health? Consumption of fermented, probiotic foods provides several health benefits for the digestive system and the whole body.
According to a 2017 review, compounds in these foods have “anti-microbial effects, anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial properties, and bioactive peptides that exhibit anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, opioid antagonist, anti-allergenic, and blood pressure lowering effects,” as well as “anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, opioid antagonist, anti-allergenic, and blood pressure lowering effects.”
The microorganisms we get from probiotic foods assist in forming a protective coating in our intestines that protects us against dangerous bacteria like salmonella and E.coli. They may also provide a way to counteract the pro-inflammatory consequences of intestinal dysbiosis.
Fermented foods nutrition is also crucial for establishing a stronger immune system and boosting antibodies. Furthermore, these meals help control hunger and reduce sugar and refined carb cravings.
In fact, as part of a candida diet, consuming cultured/probiotic foods may help cure candida gut.
Another advantage of lacto-fermentation is that it increases the nutritional content of meals and makes minerals in cultured foods more accessible. Fermented foods also include bacteria that create vitamins and enzymes useful for digestion and gut health.
“Recent scientific investigation has supported the important role of probiotics as a part of a healthy diet for human as well as for animal health and may be an avenue to provide a safe, cost-effective, and ‘natural’ approach that adds a barrier against microbial infection,” according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
Fermented foods have even been shown to lessen social anxiety, believe it or not. A relationship between social anxiety disorder and gut health was discovered in a recent study led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
The nerves in our stomachs seem to impact many of our emotions (the enteric nervous system). In addition, the gut-brain link, mood regulation, and behaviors seem to be influenced by bacteria, thus the phrase “gut-brain connection.”
Depression has been related to the interaction of brain and gut health in animal studies, and probiotic use has been proven to assist persons with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The following are some of the advantages of consuming fermented foods:
- Yogurt – Yogurt consumption has been linked to improved overall diet quality, improved metabolic profiles, and lower blood pressure.
- Kombucha — Kombucha is carbonated after fermentation and includes vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and high acid content (acetic, gluconic, and lactic).
- Sauerkraut – Research suggests that sauerkraut provides several health benefits for humans. It may assist in improving digestive health, circulation, inflammation, bone strength, and cholesterol levels.
- Pickles – One tiny pickle delivers a healthy amount of vitamin K, which is vital for bone and heart health, and may help address the all-too-common vitamin K shortage.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is strong in anti-oxidants and has been shown to benefit cardiovascular and digestive health and reduce the risk of significant health disorders, including cancer, diabetes, obesity, and stomach ulcers. “Health functionality of kimchi, based on our study and that of others, includes anticancer, antioxidative, antiobesity, anti-constipation, serum cholesterol, and lipid-controlling, antidiabetic, and immune-boosting properties,” according to an article published in Bioactive Foods in Health Promotion.
- Natto includes the super-probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been shown to help the immune system and cardiovascular health. It also aids in the absorption of vitamin K2. In addition to these natto advantages, it includes nattokinase, a strong anti-inflammatory enzyme that has been demonstrated to have cancer-fighting properties.
- Miso contains anti-aging qualities and may help you keep your skin looking young. It also strengthens the immune system, reduces the chance of some cancers, enhances bone health, and supports a healthy neurological system.
- Tempeh has a high concentration of vitamins B5, B6, B3, and B2. It provides nearly the same protein content as meat and may help lower cholesterol, boost bone density, minimize menopausal symptoms, and promote muscle recovery.
Food Fermentation Techniques
What precisely are fermented foods? When a food is fermented, it is allowed to sit and steep for some time until the sugars and carbohydrates in the food interact with bacteria, yeast, and microorganisms to alter the chemical structure of the meal.
“The chemical breakdown of a material by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, generally including effervescence and the release of heat,” according to the definition of fermentation. For example, fermentation is a chemical reaction that changes carbohydrates, such as vegetables and sugar, to carbon dioxide and alcohol to an organic acid.
According to recent research, most fermented items contain at least 1 million microbial cells per gram, with levels changing based on factors such as the food’s area, age, and consumption time.
Fermenting foods like milk and vegetables is also a fantastic technique to preserve them for extended periods while also increasing the bioavailability of their nutrients (absorbable).
What Is the Process for Fermenting Yogurt and Fermented Veggies?
According to the Milk Facts website, yogurt is manufactured using a starter culture that ferments lactose (milk sugar) and transforms it into lactic acid, which is mainly responsible for yogurt’s sour taste. Lactic acid lowers the pH of milk, thickens and clots it, and gives it a smooth texture.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are two of the most common bacterial cultures found in yogurt after fermentation. This is because the only microorganisms required by law to be present in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Kefir and yogurt are both manufactured in the same manner; however, kefir is made at room temperature with the continual usage of kefir grains, which contain a variety of bacteria and yeast. As a result, kefir is more tart/sour than yogurt and includes a wider diversity of bacteria in addition to yeasts.
Lactic acid fermentation (or lacto-fermentation) happens when vegetables are diced and salted, and this is how most fermented vegetables are made. Fermented vegetables have high acidity and low pH, making them shelf-stable and safe to eat for longer periods than fresh vegetables.
Many fermented vegetables also include other components such as coriander, garlic, ginger, and red pepper, which have health advantages of their own. The precise microbe counts found in fermented vegetables vary depending on the nutritional quality of the fresh produce utilized, seasons, maturity stage, humidity, temperature, and pesticide application, among other things.
How Often Should Fermented Foods Be Consumed?
If you’re new to fermented foods, start with a half-cup each day and work your way up from there. This provides your gut time to acclimate to the new bacteria’s presence.
It’s preferable to consume various fermented foods because each has unique beneficial bacteria.
What stores sell fermented foods? These days, they may be found at almost every supermarket.
Yogurt is commonly accessible, while fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are becoming more readily available. In addition, fermented foods may be found at health food shops, huge supermarkets, and farmers’ markets.
Prebiotic meals and high-fiber foods (such as artichokes, bananas, onions, and other plants) should also be consumed regularly to help “feed” bacteria in the gut.
What is the best way to make fermented foods at home?
What kinds of foods may be fermented at home? Again, the list is extensive and includes a variety of vegetables, cereals, soybeans, milk, and other dairy products.
Cabbage, carrots, green beans, turnips, radishes, and beetroots, for example, are fermented vegetables that may be made at home.
Here’s a simple homemade fermented foods dish that uses vegetables you probably already have on hand (for more information on how to make cultured vegetables, see this homemade sauerkraut recipe):
- Fermenting veggies is simple, and all you need is a jar, some salt, and some water. The fermentation process is aided by brine, which is made up of salt and water.
- Use a normal mason jar with a wide opening. Grating, shredding, chopping, slicing, or leaving the veggies whole is a good way to start fermenting them.
- Cover the veggies with brine and weigh them down, so they don’t float up once they’ve been prepared and put in the selected jar. Sprinkle the salt generously over the vegetables and rub them in. Add any other ingredients, like spices, if desired. Add additional salty water if enough liquid is discharged (brine). Because bubbles will emerge during fermentation, there should be some space at the top of the jar. While the vegetable ferment, make sure the lid is securely fastened.
- Fermentation takes two to seven days for most vegetables. The stronger the flavor, the longer you allow them to ferment. Move the veggies to cold storage after they’ve done cultivating.
Depending on the precise recipe and your personal taste, you may need to utilize kefir grains, whey, yeast, or a starting culture while producing some fermented foods. (For particular advice, go to the Cultures for Health page.)
Here are some suggestions for including fermented foods in your diet:
- Make your favorite burger sliders with sauerkraut and pickles.
- To make these healthy smoothie recipes even healthier, add yogurt or kefir.
- Toss one of your favorite salads with a salad dressing made with apple cider vinegar, raw honey, olive oil, and dijon mustard. Salads may also include cultured vegetables such as radish, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.
- Substitute tempeh for meat in this Buddha bowl dish to make a vegan meal.
- This easy miso soup dish with mushrooms is a must-try.
- Toss kimchi into a vegetable stir-fry or a bowl of homemade ramen.
- Instead of soda or other sweetened beverages, try kombucha, which may be mixed with seltzer if desired.
Keto Fermented Foods
It’s a good idea to eat probiotic foods regularly, regardless of your diet. For example, if you’re on a ketogenic diet, cultured veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi should be a regular part of your diet.
These include probiotics, vital vitamins and minerals, and salt, which are required on the keto diet to maintain a water balance.
You may have a modest quantity of full-fat (preferably raw) dairy products such as unsweetened yogurt or kefir on the keto diet. Simply avoid any food that has been sweetened with fruit, sugar, or other artificial sweeteners.
Because dairy products contain natural sugars, they should be consumed only “sometimes.” The least carbohydrate-dense cheeses are higher-fat, aged cheeses, which may be ingested in amounts of around 1/4 cup per day.
Limit yourself to around 1/2 cup of yogurt or kefir each day.
Apple cider vinegar may also be used in salad dressings, marinades, and other recipes or blended with water.
Used In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
Fermented foods like yogurt, amasai, and miso are part of a healthy Ayurvedic diet. In addition, asparagus, beets, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, fennel root (anise), garlic, green beans, and other seasonal vegetables may be fermented to extend their shelf life.
Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices are often used in Ayurvedic and Indian fermented cuisine. Turmeric, cumin, fennel, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, clove, rock salt, mint, black pepper, and oregano are some of the spices used.
Fermented foods are particularly beneficial to vata types, who benefit from meals with a natural sour and salty flavor rather than harsh, pungent, and astringent flavors.
Fermented foods are recommended in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help avoid deficiencies, support the gut and key organs, and aid detoxification. Low nutritional intake, pharmaceutical usage, stress, and other conditions may all affect the stomach and spleen, which TCM practitioners think are linked to qi (“vital energy”) deficit.
Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented/pickled vegetables and fruits are used to help restore the gastrointestinal tract’s healthy bacterial populations. In addition, soy sauce, black beans, radishes, and other foods are fermented and utilized in TCM in China.
These meals make it simpler for nutrients to be absorbed by the stomach during digestion, but they may also cause immunological deficiencies.
Side Effects and Risks
Why may fermented foods be harmful to your health? While fermented foods have many advantages, one negative is that consuming too much of them, particularly too soon, may cause stomach problems. Bloating and diarrhea are two examples.
Begin gently and try out several types to determine your favorite.
If you have a sensitive digestive system, start with a little quantity at first, such as a few tablespoons of kefir or one probiotic pill per day, and gradually increase.
Try to buy fermented foods that are organic and have “live and active microorganisms” for the best results. This is preferable to the designation “produced with active cultures.”
Some low-quality goods may be heat-treated after fermentation, which kills both healthy and dangerous bacteria (extending shelf life). Instead, you should try to choose raw, organic, and local items that are free of sugar and chemicals.
- Fermented foods are allowed to sit and steep for some time until the sugars and carbohydrates in the food interact with bacteria, yeast, and microorganisms. This alters the food’s chemical structure, resulting in the production of beneficial probiotics.
- What are some examples of fermented foods? Kombucha, yogurt, aged/raw cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi are among the most readily accessible. In addition, fermented foods include apple cider vinegar, wine, sourdough bread, cottage cheese, and coconut kefir.
- These foods naturally contain probiotics, which are healthy microorganisms that dwell mostly in our intestines and digestive systems.
- Improve digestion/gut health, boost immunity, help treat GI issues like irritable bowel disease, provide minerals that help build bone density, help fight allergies, support heart and metabolic health, and kill harmful yeast and microbes that cause issues like candida are all health benefits of fermented foods and probiotics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top 5 fermented foods?
A: 1. Kvass
Are fermented foods good for gut health?
A: Fermented foods can be good for gut health as they contain probiotics that help to keep the gut healthy.
What is the healthiest fermented food?
A: The healthiest fermented food is sauerkraut.
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