When a food is fermented, it means that it’s left to sit and steep until the sugars and carbs become bacteria-boosting agents. The fermentation of vegetables is also a great way to preserve them for a longer period of time. This gives you the option to make a large batch of it and have a ready-to-eat dose of microflora at your disposal for a very long time.
If you’re new to fermented foods, start with half a cup per day and build up from there. Here is a list of the 10 healthiest fermented foods and vegetables that will get you going:
Kefir is a fermented milk product (cow, goat or sheep milk) that tastes like a drinkable yoghurt. Kefir benefits include high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics. It boosts immunity, heals irritable bowel disease, builds bone density, fights allergies, kills candida and improves digestion.
There are many reasons to consume kombucha, a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar (from various sources like cane sugar, fruit or honey). It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.
After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). There are reasons to drink kombucha every day because it improves digestion, helps with weight loss, increases energy, detoxes the body, supports the immune system, reduces joint pain and prevents cancer.
Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional foods. Made from fermented cabbage, it’s high in dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins. It’s also a great source of iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese and magnesium. Sauerkraut has a variety of beneficial effects on human health; it boosts digestive health, aids circulation, fights inflammation, strengthens bones and reduces cholesterol levels.
Pickles contain a ton and vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants and gut-friendly bacteria. Pickles alone can help address the all-too-common vitamin K deficiency, as one small pickle contains 18 percent of your daily value of this vitamin that’s an essential fat-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in bone and heart health. When choosing a jar of pickles, go with a food manufacturer that uses organic products. If you can find a local maker, you’ll be getting some of the best probiotics for your health.
Miso is created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji, a fungus. Miso has anti-aging properties and helps to maintain healthy skin. It also boosts the immune system, lowers the risk of cancer, improves bone health and promotes a healthy nervous system.
Another beneficial fermented food is tempeh, which is a soybean product that is created by adding a tempeh starter (which is a mix of live mould). When it sits for a day or two, it becomes a cake-like product.
Tempeh reduces cholesterol, increases bone density, reduces menopausal symptoms, promotes muscle recovery and has the same protein quality as meat. It contains high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3 and B2.
Natto is a popular dish in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans. It contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been proven to support the immune system and cardiovascular health; it also enhances the digestion of vitamin K2. In addition to these Natto benefits, it contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase that has been proven to fight cancer.
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that is made from vegetables including cabbage, plus spices and seasoning. This Korean delicacy dates back to the 7th century.
It’s known to improve cardiovascular and digestive health. It has high levels of antioxidants that reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and gastric ulcers.
9. Raw Cheese
Raw milk cheeses are made with milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. Goat milk, sheep milk and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Probiotics benefits include healing digestive issues, neurological disorders and mental health problems; plus, probiotics boost the immune system and destroy harmful bacteria.
Probiotic yoghurt is the most consumed fermented dairy product in the United States today. Yoghurt intake is directly associated with better overall diet quality, healthier metabolic profiles, healthier blood pressure and increased triglyceride levels. It’s recommended when buying yoghurt to look for three things: first, that it comes from goat or sheep milk; second, that it’s grass-fed; and third, that it’s organic.