Fermented foods are getting a lot of cred lately as superfoods. Here’s what makes them so healthy along with some ideas for how to eat more of them.
What’s so great about fermented foods? Fermentation used to be all about preserving foods, but it turns out that this process also yields some great health benefits. Fermentation basically means letting beneficial bacteria digest some of the carbohydrates and sugars in food. Fermented food can basically go two ways. Those beneficial bacteria either produce alcohol or acid.
Before you slam some beers in the name of health, I have bad news: alcohol’s negatives far outweigh any positives that you’d get from the probiotics. The most beneficial fermented foods are the ones that are low in or free of alcohol. The ones to choose are high in lactic acid.
Fermented Foods, Probiotics, and Lactic Acid
Chances are you know that probiotics are good for you. They support healthy digestion. You need those good bacteria in your belly, and eating fermented food can help set your belly straight. In fact, probiotics have been shown to even help with serious gut stuff, like IBS and leaky gut syndrome.So, what’s this lactic acid stuff? Some types of bacteria produce lactic acid when they digest sugars and carbs, and there’s research showing that lactic acid fermentation is especially beneficial. They support healthy digestion and a strong immune system and may even protect your body from certain types of cancer. They also improve your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients in your food. Related Reading: Climate Change Making Our Food Less Nutritious. So, how can you eat more fermented foods? Here are five of the most beneficial ones out there and how to eat them!
1. Raw Sauerkraut
What it is: Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and like the name suggests it has a pleasantly sour tang. Not all store-bought sauerkraut is raw, so make sure you read those labels carefully.
How to eat it: Try it on your next sandwich. You can also ferment your own sauerkraut at home.
Article from Eat Drink Better, July, 2014.