What are Fermented Foods?
Fermentation is an ancient technique used by people for thousands of years. The process sounds a little gross at because the food is exposed to yeast and bacteria. This allows microorganisms that are beneficial to develop in the foods. These organisms consume the unhealthy bacteria and other things in the food and eat the carbohydrates. Not surprisingly, this process can dramatically change the taste of the food being fermented.
In addition to improving the taste of food, it also helps significantly to improve the shelf life of the food. Fermentation was used before refrigeration was an option and continues to be used in many areas today. While most people know that fermentation can help extend the life of foods, it also changes the taste. What many do not realize is that fermentation can be extremely healthy too.
Before looking at the specific health benefits of fermented foods, let’s take a look at some common foods that you can add to your diet today.
Examples of Fermented Foods
The following are all fermented foods. Some of them are very common, and you’ve likely seen and eaten them many times in the past. Others are a little less well-known, but should certainly be added on to your list of foods to try.
- Kombucha – This is a fermented black tea and sugar drink. The fermentation helps the drink become carbonated, and it tastes great.
- Sauerkraut – Many people don’t realize it, but this is one of the oldest known fermented foods, and it continues to be often consumed around the world. It is fermented cabbage and is a great tasting option as a side dish or to add in with many types of meat. While best known in German cuisine, it can be found in many different cultures.
- Miso – When you ferment soybeans, brown rice or barley with koji, you get miso. Koji is a fungus and adds some intense flavors to this enjoyable food. It is enjoyed by many people around the world and offers a variety of excellent health benefits.
- Pickles – Of course, pickles are likely the best known fermented foods. Even people who normally don’t like fermented foods will often love the great crunch of a good pickle.
- Kimchi – This is a Korean dish that is made by mixing up many different vegetables and then fermenting the vegetables. It tastes great on its own or can be cooked into other dishes.
- Raw Cheese – Before pasteurization, all cheese would be considered fermented. Whether made from cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, or some other animal, raw cheese is one of the best fermented foods out there.
- Yogurt – Yogurt is another fermented dairy product that is very popular. It is ideal for you, offers a lot of protein, and most people enjoy it. Of course, you’ll want to avoid the versions that have lots of sugar added in. In their place, simply choose no sugar added options and mix in some sliced fruit.
These are just a few examples of great tasting fermented foods that you might just love. The total list of foods that can be fermented is just about endless, so give these a try. If you like them, look into some additional options to make sure you are getting all the health benefits of fermented foods.
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
There are many incredible health benefits of consuming fermented foods on a regular basis. They can add in essential nutrients, and help your body operate at peak levels. While each fermented food will have slightly different benefits, just about all of them will help you in the following ways:
- Vitamin A – Most fermented foods will have higher levels of vitamin A since this vitamin is typically produced during the fermentation process.
- Vitamin C – Similarly, the lactic acid present from fermentation produces vitamin C. This means foods that normally don’t have high levels of this vitamin will have it after fermentation, making them healthier than ever.
- Reduced Sugar Content – One of the main steps in the fermentation process is the microorganisms consuming carbohydrates (sugars). This means that even foods that were formerly high in carbs won’t be after they have been fermented.
- Detox – Eating fermented foods puts the healthy microorganisms into your body, which helps your body to eliminate any toxins more quickly and effectively. This will help your digestive process and keep your gut healthier.
- Improved Nutrient Absorption – The nutrients from many foods end up passing right through your body without ever being absorbed. Fermenting foods allows your body to pull higher amounts of most nutrients, so your body can operate more efficiently.
- Improved Immune System – Many people don’t realize that much of the immune function of the body occurs in the gut. A healthy gut, which fermentation promotes, can help you to fight off many diseases including the common cold, the flu, and others.
There are many other health benefits associated with eating and drinking fermented foods. If you still aren’t sure whether fermentation is good for you, just remember. Beer is made possible by fermentation! One of the most popular and most enjoyed drinks in history is a result of fermentation, so it has to be good for you! All kidding aside, adding fermented foods to your regular diet is an excellent way to improve your overall health quite dramatically so add some of the above foods to your shopping list and see how much it can help you.