Fermented Foods: Put an Army of Healthy Bacteria to Work

Did you ever wonder why fermented foods are present in every culture across the globe?

There’s magic in fermented foods, and we’re only now discovering the myriad health benefits.

What is fermentation?

Healthy bacteria are added to food and metabolize some of the natural sugars, forming lactic acid. Lactic acid inhibits the growth of other harmful bacteria. In this way, the fermentation process preserves the food, and adds interesting flavors and textures.

What are the advantages of adding fermented foods to your diet?

Fermented foods increase the range of healthy bacteria in the gut. Having a wide spectrum of healthy types of bacteria has recently been associated with a host of possible benefits-including weight control and reduced blood sugar.

What are some examples of fermented foods?

 Dairy Fermented Foods

An interesting aspect of cultured dairy is that the bacteria used are excellent at partially digesting lactose-a boon for those who are lactose intolerant. Some examples:

  • yogurt
  • kefir (a drinkable yogurt)
  • cottage cheese

Non-Dairy Fermented Foods

  • pickles (but only those in the refrigerator case). Pickles sold on the grocery shelf at room temperature are made with vinegar and are not fermented-think about them as “dead pickles”.  Refrigerated pickles, on the other hand, are made with brine and are loaded with healthy bacteria.
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi-a traditional Korean food, a kind of spicy sauerkraut
  • tempeh-fermented whole soybeans. The fermentation process softens the bean, making it more digestible than other beans and a nutritious meat substitute.
  • miso-also a fermented soy product. Look for low salt versions.

Look to add more fermented foods to your diet-and take full advantage of cultural diversity!

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