Fermented foods are on their way to fame, with some of them already setting trends in the world capitals' trendiest eateries. I trust you want to make sure to be up to date with these healthy probiotic nutrients, and their wondrous healing benefits.
Words: Aleksandra Medina
So what is all this food craze all about? Recent research has shown that fermented foods help treat anxiety, as well as generally improve one’s gut health and the digestive system. Fermentation itself is a process in which (mostly vegetables) are submerged in either salt water or their own juice, allowing for the good bacteria to grow. These bacteria eat into the vegetable and lower its pH levels, while creating the savory flavor. As well as being a natural way to create flavour, these bacteria (often referred to as probiotics) are super healthy. Once in your body, they do their magic to improve your gut health. What are the most popular fermented foods? Let's have a closer look.
Photo via Microbialfoods.org
As a forerunner, the most sought-after fermented dish today is kimchi, which originated in Korea. Kimchi is fermented cabbage, or sometimes radish, made with a mix of garlic, salt, vinegar, chile peppers, and other spices. Kimchi is served in various forms: as a side dish, topping on pizza, soups, rice or noodles. It is the ideal ingredient to add for your high-fiber, low-fat diet!
Sauerkraut or Fermented Cabbage
Photo via Nourishedkitchen.com
A more European dish, which originated in Eastern Europe, is sauerkraut. It is definitely on its way to become the new health-food craze. Sauerkraut, also fermented cabbage, has similar health benefits as kimchi (because it’s fermented cabbage as well), but its taste is completely different. If kimchi is known for its spicy taste, sauerkraut has a more sour taste, usually the result of only adding salt and garlic to the fermentation process. Just like kimchi, sauerkraut can be eaten endlessly in many ways. From being an ingredient in your salad to being eaten as a side dish, sauerkraut can be added to sandwiches, burgers and pizzas as well.
Photo via Farmgirlgourmet.com
There’s also a way to get these health benefits by drinking a fermented beverage that combines black tea and sugar. Kombucha, known by the Chinese as the Immortal Health Elixir, has tremendous health benefits, such as improved digestion, weight loss and increased energy. This miracle tea drink can also be a powerful tool for cleansing and detoxification. Although it is usually made with black tea, it is open to adjustments, and can be made with green tea as well. Now that its popularity is growing, you can find kombucha made with nearly every single flavour imaginable. Kombucha can be made at home, but, luckily for us, the fans, it is widely available in many health shops (like Planet Organic, for example), or a growing number of organic coffee shops.
Photo via Arbuz.com
If you want to treat you body well, another probiotics filled drink to have is kefir. Kefir can be described as a yoghurt drink, yet with the specific taste of fermented foods due to its naturally occurring bacteria and yeast. Not only does it have the characteristic digestive system benefits, like the other fermented goods, but kefir is also loaded with valuable vitamins. Furthermore, kefir brings some good news for vegans: although, traditionally, kefir is made from milk (cow, goat or sheep), it can just as well be made from coconut, soy or rice milk. Kefir can be used as a healthier substitute in literally anything, starting from muffins, breakfast muesli and cheese, to your own homemade salad dressing.