There has been an increasing fame for fermented foods lately mainly due to the health benefits that arrived with the trend of brewed kombucha drink that’s being enjoyed now everywhere in the world. Fermented foods are a rich source of beneficial bacteria yeast that will aid the breakdown of sugars which results in much longer shelf-life for products due to the fermentation process while increasing the good bacteria in your food in comparison with untreated fresh produce.
What are probiotics?
The healthy bacteria we are talking about also goes under the name of ‘’probiotics’’, also known as the friendly strains that you would like to live in your digestive tract as they promote positive outcomes in terms of digestive health and immunity.
While there is the possibility of taking pills that would provide you with these benefits, it’s absolutely not hard to incorporate and prepare fermented foods that would probably aid your health in other ways as well (such as fibre addition). The options are really endless as you can basically ferment almost anything and the process is quite enjoyable if you like a little excitement in the kitchen.
What fermented foods to add to your diet?
Is a fermented drink made from green or black tea usually fizzy and with a particularly strong flavour that can vary from sweet to sour depending on the way it’s been prepared and the ingredients used.
There is yet not much research about how this drink affects human health, animal research has shown that it could actually help decreasing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels while blocking the spread of cancer cells (1, 2).
Also known as fermented cabbage, which it’s been a traditional European winter salad for many centuries (served along meat dishes) now is prepared from raw cabbage together with lactic acid bacteria and flavoured with a variety of seeds or herbs (dill, ginger, juniper berries, etc).
Aside from its digestive benefits, fermented cabbage can also provide with a generous dosage of vitamin C, K, iron and manganese. All these benefits you can enjoy by preparing your own batch of fermented cabbage in your own kitchen and without the need of fancy ingredients, but water, salt, other veggies and grated cabbage all together in a sterilised jar sitting at room temperature for 3 or 4 weeks to allow fermentation. Times of fermentation will depend on your house’ temperature.
They come right after cabbage in terms of crunchiness and deliciousness and they are way better and healthier when prepared at home rather than bought at the supermarket. Pickles usually refer to fermented cucumbers in salty water, nonetheless in some countries the pickle variety can extend to green tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, etc. Please note that pickles should not contain vinegar (which is usually used in mass-produced store bought jars to accentuate the flavour) if you wish for improved health benefits.
A dairy product that can be easily found in the supermarket. In Sweden there is the option of probiotic ‘’fruit soup’’ – basically a thick juice with added probiotics or fortified yogurts. The difference about these yogurts is that they are prepared using fermented milk which allows lactic acid to multiply the bacteria.
A meta-analysis study from Cambridge University has concluded that consuming fermented milk in probiotic foods can aid at lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure, particularly in individuals with high blood pressure. (3)
How to add more fermented foods to your diet
- If you are used to eat a morning bowl of oatmeal with milk or any sort of dairy, you can easily choose to have yogurt or dairy products that have been prepared from fermented milk.
- If you are a lover of your ”tea time” and enjoy a cup every day, you can try to make your own kombucha at home and enjoy it instead of your regular choice.
- If you enjoy your burgers or meat dishes with salads usually, try swapping those fresh leaves with a fermented bowl of fermented cabbage or cucumbers. They compliment meat the best way, plus they aid your digestion after the meal.
- Pickles usually refer to fermented cucumbers in salty water, nonetheless in some countries the pickle variety can extend to green tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, etc. Please note that pickles should not contain vinegar (which is usually used in mass-produced store bought jars to accentuate the flavour) if you wish for improved health benefits.
If you live in Sweden, I warmheartedly recommend the following brand of naturally fermented products from: Tistelvind AB. They can be found at your local ICA stores or online grocery shops such as Mathem.