Fermented foods– wait, what? If that term is new to you, don’t freak out just yet. Keep reading! In this post we’ll cover a few benefits of fermented foods, and share with you the top 5 fermented foods we recommend.
Rich in good bacteria known as probiotics, fermented foods work to promote a healthy gut! With tens to hundreds of trillion bacteria and microbes, our gut (and all of its microorganisms) is essential to our health and immune system. We want to support a healthy gut!
And the good bacteria found in fermented foods helps us do so, by assisting in the absorption of nutrients and in strengthening our immune system.
Benefits of Fermented Foods
Probiotics in fermented foods contribute to balancing the healthy bacteria in the gut. This can make a drastic difference when it comes to digestive health issues.
More easily digested than their non-fermented counterparts, fermented foods encourage better nutrient absorption. Fermentation makes nutrients more easily accessible to the body and can even increase the nutritional value of some foods.
Because there is a gut-brain connection, growing research suggests a healthy gut supports a healthy mind. Eating fermented moods may positively affect your mood and mental function.
Top 5 Fermented Foods to Try
Many fermented foods can be purchased at the grocery store, and most are also really simple to make yourself! Here are five of our top recommendations when it comes to fermented foods:
Sauerkraut isn’t just for topping a hot dog! Packed with probiotics and fiber, cabbage, water, and salt are the only ingredients in this fermented food! If you want to try your hand at making your own sauerkraut, here’s a well loved recipe. If you prefer to pick some up at the grocery store, aim for the refrigerated section, as canned and jarred varieties contain little to no probiotics.
Kefir is a cultured, fermented drink, usually made of milk. While kefir tastes like an extra tangy yogurt, it has more probiotics and protein than traditional yogurts. You can purchase kefir, or you can make your own! Often made with dairy milk, kefir is easily digestible even for some who don’t tolerate other milk products. A plethora of non-dairy alternative kefir recipes exist, too!
You can drink kefir on its own, add it to your smoothies, and use it in other recipes (like this one for ranch dressing)! If you go the homemade route, this kefir culture powder may be helpful!
Made from fermented green or black tea, this fizzy drink is rich in good bacteria. Often flavored with fruit, this tangy beverage comes in innumerable fun flavors! You can find kombucha in most grocery stores, though more naturally minded stores offer a wider variety than traditional grocery stores.
If you’ve tried kombucha and the sour taste hasn’t been your fave, don’t be afraid to try another flavor. With several brands to choose from, as well as a huge assortment of flavor options, you may just have not found the right fit for you. And yes, you can also make it yourself, and this kombucha starter kit has everything you need to get going!
Kimchi is a Korean superfood similar to sauerkraut but with a spicy kick. Ginger, garlic, and Korean chili paste fuel the fire in this healthy dish. You can find it in the refrigerated section near the pickles or sauerkraut, most likely. Kimchi makes a nice side or a topping for burgers or tacos. Feel like making your own version? The process is lined out here.
Tempeh is the fermented version of tofu, and offers a different experience than regular tofu. Made from fermented soybeans and formed into a dense cake, tempeh is often marinated, baked, grilled, or stir fried. The fermentation process makes the beans’ proteins easier for our bodies to use. Tempeh is firmer than tofu, and its flavor is a little nuttier. A nutritional powerhouse, tempeh is a great source of probiotics and a complete source of vegetarian protein, as it contains all the essential amino acids.
What Are Your Favorite Fermented Foods?
Are any of these fermented foods already your favorites? Are there any you haven’t tried but want to? Let us know in the comments!