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3 Best Fermented Foods Ever
Everyone is always looking for new healthy foods to incorporate into their diet. Superfoods are very trendy nowadays, but it turns out that some rather mundane items in your fridge, like sauerkraut, are actually among the healthiest things you can eat. Fermented foods are taking the health and nutrition world by storm, and with good reason. In this article, you will learn what fermentation is, why it’s so beneficial for your health, and which foods and beverages you should be stocking up on to benefit from fermented foods.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs when microbes convert carbohydrates in foods into acids, alcohol, or gas.
Fermentation is a natural process, and one humans have taken advantage of for thousands of years. Fermentation is how all alcoholic beverages are made, and how many common foods such as yogurt and pickles are produced. It is also the key process by which breads are made. Yeast, which is a living organism, performs fermentation to obtain energy. With dairy products, it’s bacteria which do this, converting the carbohydrates in milk into lactic acid.
While alcoholic drinks are fermented, they do not have the same health benefits as fermented solid foods (sorry, whisky doesn’t count as a superfood!)
Essential Fermented Foods
This is probably the fermented food you are most familiar with. Yogurt contains billions of live probiotic bacteria which support digestion. Probiotic foods help line the intestines and gut with a protective layer of beneficial bacteria which protects against infections and assists your body in the digestive process, maximizing the benefits from the foods you consume.
Yogurt typically contains healthy bacteria such as lactobacillus, streptococcus thermophiles, and bifidobacterium strains. If you are unfamiliar with or unable to pronounce those names, don’t worry! All you need to know is that they are very healthy for you.
In addition to its probiotic qualities, yogurt is also rich in protein and often fortified with vitamin D. Organic yogurt from grass-fed cows is best. Be wary of yogurt with tons of sugar in it; some fruit is fine, but if there is too much sugar, it will negate the health benefits.
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This is a classic side dish, and it’s very inexpensive. Sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbage. It’s filled with probiotic bacteria that offer similar benefits to those listed above. In addition, it also offers nutrients like vitamins A, C, K, and various B vitamins. Sauerkraut also contains minerals like manganese, magnesium, and iron. If that weren’t enough, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help lower cholesterol. Who knew that this ballpark side dish could be so good for you?
One food very similar to sauerkraut is kimchi. This staple of Korean cuisine is also made from fermented cabbage, but includes special seasoning and spices which give it a bold and distinct flavor. Kimchi offers the same benefits for improving gut health and is filled with antioxidants as well.
Kombucha is a type of fermented beverage made from tea and cane sugar. It is a source of B vitamins and healthy probiotic bacteria. Kombucha has been shown to significantly improve digestion and energy levels, help with treating leaky gut syndrome and ulcers, and also has powerful antioxidant properties. This truly might be the most healthy beverage on the planet. It can be a little expensive, but even if you only drink one bottle a week, you’ll still be doing much better than the average person.
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3. Miso and Natto
There are also two very beneficial fermented foods made from soybeans: Miso and natto, both of which originate in Japan. Many people are first exposed to miso in the form of miso soup, which is served as an appetizer in many Japanese restaurants. Miso is a concoction of fermented soybeans and koji (a type of fungus). It strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of cancer. Miso can also be made from brown rice or barley.
Natto is another Japanese dish made from soybeans fermented with the bacillus subtilis. Natto contains an enzyme called nattokinase which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps fight cancer. It also helps improve immune system function and your body’s ability to digest vitamin K2, an important vitamin that many people are deficient in.
There really is no downside to incorporating more fermented foods into your diet. People have known for thousands of years that eating these foods improves human health and vitality, and now modern science shows us why. Pick some up today and hop on the probiotic bandwagon.