You may have heard of Kimchi and Sauerkraut, but the thought of eating something that has been fermented may sound a bit strange. We’ve been raised to scrub our vegetables and stay away from food that may contain bacteria. But it’s time to unlearn what you’ve been taught, as there are so many benefits to fermented food.
What is Fermented Food?
While you may be familiar with the term fermented, what does that actually mean when it comes to food? Heart Foundation says, “Fermented foods are foods and beverages that have undergone controlled microbial growth and fermentation. Fermentation is an anaerobic process in which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down food components (e.g. sugars such as glucose) into other products (e.g. organic acids, gases, or alcohol)”.
Bacteria is not always a bad thing, in fact some of the benefits of fermented food are the probiotic bacteria they contain.
Benefits of Fermented Food
Fermented food is full of nutritional value. Fermented foods contain an incredible source of probiotics, which contain live bacteria. In fact, the bacteria in fermented foods can help your digestion, boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and aid those who are lactose intolerant. Having a healthy gut is extremely important for your health, and is required if you’re trying to lose weight!
Read More: 21 Tricks to start losing weight after baby is born
Now that we know about the benefits of fermented food, let’s talk about some of the best-fermented foods out there and recipes to start incorporating them into your diet today.
Kombucha is taking off in popularity when it comes to fermented food items. With a green or black tea base, this delicious probiotic drink has a tart, but slightly sweet, vinegary kick. Kombucha is fermented, and typically has a 0.5% of alcohol, but don’t worry – there’s so little alcohol in it that you won’t need to be 21 and older in order to purchase it.
There are so many benefits of fermented food, but regarding kombucha the Cleveland Clinic tells us, “the compounds it contains have been associated in some studies with lowering cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, antimicrobial action, decreased rates of cancer, and improvement of liver and GI function”.
While you can purchase an endless variety of kombucha, the process of making your own is quite simple! Once you have your recipe for a basic kombucha down, you can add things like ginger and blueberries to give you an extra boost of antioxidants.
Delish provides us with an outstanding and simple recipe to get you started today!
Read More: Homemade Kombucha – An Alternative Drink for Summer
Kimchi is a popular and delicious fermented food from Korea. The benefits of fermented foods paired with this gingery cabbage dish will have you craving more! Kimchi is packed full of salted vegetables like cabbage and radish, but the real key ingredients are the seasonings – gochugaru, giger, garlic and more!
While a lot of people choose to simply eat kimchi straight out of the jar, there are tons of different ways to incorporate it into your diet! Bon Appetit gives us a recipe that’ll have you raving about the benefits of fermented foods at breakfast time – introducing Kimchi Pancakes.
If you’re wanting to make your own kimchi, head on over to Feasting at Home for a recipe that will only take you 30 minutes to make. The rest is up to time and nature.
The benefits from fermented food are insane for your health, but miso is one of the absolute best. Healthline tells us that just one ounce of Miso is packed full of the following nutrients:
“Calories: 56, Carbs: 7 grams, Fat: 2 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Sodium: 43% of the RDI, Manganese: 12% of the RDI, Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI, Copper: 6% of the RDI, Zinc: 5% of the RDI, *also contains vitamin B, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus.”
There is a reason that this fermented food is consumed daily in Japan. All of these vitamins and nutrients will aid in improving your digestion, which is why it is served in a soup form with most meals in Japan.
While miso can be prepared in many different dishes, the most popular way to experience the benefits of miso is via soup. You can pick up a packet of miso soup at nearly any grocery store, but beware of the salt content as you don’t want to up your sodium intake. Minimalist Baker brings us a recipe for miso soup that only takes 15 minutes to make!
If you’ve ever wandered around the vegan section of the grocery store, you’re likely to have seen tempeh. The benefits of fermented food are no different in tempeh, as this food will help aid your digestive health and help reduce inflammation. The reason you’re going to love tempeh is not due to the benefits of fermented food…but rather the deliciousness that you can create with this ingredient.
Tempah is extremely popular as a meat substitute in vegan recipes. It soaks up whatever flavor you put into it, and unlike tofu, it has a texture that is very similar to chicken. Whether you’re craving potstickers, teriyaki lettuce wraps, or a good ole fashion BBQ sandwich, replacing the meat with tempeh will give your digestive system a break from heavy meats.
Here are three incredible recipes for tempeh that you’re going to end up making time and time again:
A bread that encourages weight loss? Can that even be possible? Well, the benefits of fermented food are endless, and with sourdough bread, it can even encourage weight loss.
Abigails Oven writes “Although sourdough bread is often made from the same flour as other types of bread, the fermentation process improves its nutrition profile in several ways… [it] contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants than other bread. Also, its lower phytate levels allow your body to absorb the nutrients it contains more easily… Sourdough bread contains lower amounts of gluten and its prebiotic- and probiotic-like properties may help improve digestion.”
Sourdough bread is made with three simple ingredients – flour, water, and salt. Although it may sound easy, taking care of your sourdough will feel like you’re feeding a newborn baby at first. They are extremely picky about how they are fed in the beginning and it can be tricky to make sure they are in the right environment to grow.
Nourished Kitchen brings us step by step instructions on how to create your sourdough starter.
A diet that includes eating bread sounds like an absolute dream. So when you’re weighing the benefits of fermented food with your diet, make sure to include a slice of sourdough bread every once in a while!
Read More: Baking bread at home made easy
Now this one is just begging to be brought to attention. The benefits of fermented food go beyond odd foods – the benefits are even in beer. Beer is in fact fermented, and it can actually include more nutritional value than other alcoholic drinks. You may be asking yourself, how is drinking beer different than drinking wine – aren’t they both fermented?
Yes, both beer and wine are fermented, but according to Denke MA with National Library of Medicine, “The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine.”
If you’re wanting to brew your own beer, and explore the incredible benefits of fermented food in a “guilt-free” way, you can purchase your own beer making kit on Amazon! Otherwise, just pick up a locally brewed six-pack from your grocery store.
The benefits of fermented food are endlessly good for your digestion, immune system, and reducing overall inflammation. It’s a no brainer to include at least a few of these foods in your day to day diet. Whether you’re drinking a cup of miso soup every day or going crazy with Kimchi pancakes for breakfast, there are so many ways to explore the benefits of fermented food!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Looking to change your diet in other ways? Going on a Keto diet may be right up your alley! Make sure to read 35 Keto Recipes to get you started!
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Photo Credits: Lauren Benson Photography | Tommaso Urli | Taylor Grote
Sources: Heart Foundation | Cleveland Clinic | Abigails Oven