Fermentation is one of humanity’s oldest methods of preserving food, and also one of the easiest ways to make food healthier and more nutritious. You probably know that fermented foods are a great source of probiotics which are vital for your gut health. The health benefits of fermented foods are enormous including making vital nutrients more available for absorption, reducing the toxicity of some foods and also making food easier for your system to break down and absorb. Some fermented foods also help improve your mood and general health which is why you need to have more of them alongside your regular meals. Here is a look at the top 10 fermented foods you need in your daily menu.
This is one of the easiest fermented foods to make and it also happens to be one of the healthiest. Fermenting sauerkraut doesn’t cause it to lose its food value so you still get all that Vitamin K1 which is good for your bone health. The probiotic content of sauerkraut is also enormous so it will help improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut which is good for your immune system. It is a great food to include in your diet, especially after taking antibiotics which tend to disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut. It also contains magnesium, potassium, iron, folate and copper and they can go into any meal at any time of the day.
Yoghurt has been drunk by humans for centuries and its value has never gone down. The addition of artificial flavours, sugar and preservatives have caused some yoghurts to be unhealthy but the good old plain yoghurt is still one of the healthiest drinks you can drink every day. It contains lots of calcium for teeth and bone development as well as protein that digests easily and rejuvenates your cells. Yoghurt is also good for your immunity and your digestive system as a whole. It also carries lots of essential vitamins including B12. Yoghurt is also the best way to enjoy a refreshing milk product for lactose-intolerant people. It is also hydrating and doesn’t pack too many calories.
Kombucha is now the most popular version of fermented tea in the world and its store of antioxidants is no less than that of green tea. It is one of the best foods for managing your bad fat while improving your gut health with its probiotics as well. It has also been associated with properties that reduce your chances of suffering heart disease, diabetes and some infections caused by poor gut health.
Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif which means “feel good,” referring to the good feeling you get after drinking it. It has more probiotics than yoghurt and also helps people develop lactose tolerance just like yoghurt. Kefir is fermented using both yeast and culture giving it a higher concentration of good bacteria for your gut. Its sugar is also broken down better giving you better blood sugar control as well as fibre and carbs which are healthy. Oh! And it still carries all the vitamins and protein you find in milk and yoghurt.
You should keep off from those flavoured store pickles that contain more preservatives than nutrients. It is easier and safer to just ferment your own pickles at home. Cucumbers have been pickled for thousands of years and their health benefits have never diminished. Cucumbers are also low-calorie vegetables but loaded with fibre and fat-soluble vitamins which have lots of health benefits. Pickles also have calcium and potassium which are vital for general health.
Soybeans and yeast are the basics of these two fermented foods and they make great additions to soup. Some versions of miso also contain barley, wheat and rice or any other ingredients they may use but the vitamin and protein content is more or less the same. The best thing about these two is the ease of digestion which makes them good for your digestive system and easy to absorb. They make great alternatives to meat and beef products for vegans and vegetarians.
Sourdough makes a great stuffing for Turkey or chicken as well as bread and pudding additions. It uses wild bacteria just like the ones used in yoghurt so it has beneficial properties for your digestive system. Sourdough is also a healthier option because it doesn’t contain the extra sugars found in sweetened dough. The phytic acid in the dough also breaks down the sugars in wheat making them more available to your system.
The smell of kimchi is not the most welcoming, but Koreans have eaten those salted and fermented vegetables for centuries. Their health benefits are now being appreciated by the scientific community and they are many. It can be packed with lots of vitamins and minerals depending on the vegetables used to make it. Kimchi also carries antioxidants and probiotics that are good for your health as well.
Raw cheese is not just easy for your gut to digest, it is also full of beneficial bacteria that would otherwise be lost during pasteurization as is the case in processed cheese. The bacteria breaks down the lactose in the fresh milk to lactic acid making it suitable for lactose-intolerant people. It also packs nutritious fat and vitamins while retaining the original calcium content of fresh milk. With all those nutrients and probiotics for your body, raw cheese is one food you should eat more frequently; unless you are pregnant of course.
Natto is another staple in Japan that many people in the West shy away from because of the strong smell, but it is an important source of vitamins protein and fibre. It is made of fermented soybeans that may include vegetables or cereals and is mostly eaten as a breakfast meal. Its fermentation uses wild bacteria which are also good for your gut health and also help treat symptoms of indigestion.
Do you know of any other fermented foods that should have made this list? If you do why not tell us about them in the comments below.