Sure, the name may not sound particularly appealing, but believe us when we say that you should definitely be paying attention to fermented foods if you’re looking to improve your overall health.We explain what the latest health food buzz is really all about, as well as the top fermented foods to incorporate into your diet.
The ‘F’ word: what are fermented foods?
First of all, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. Despite their reputation as the latest foodie trend lifestyle experts are raving about, fermented foods have actually been around for thousands of years, with methods from pickling to stewing used in cuisines across the world to encourage the development of essential nutrients and good bacteria. To this day, fermented foods feature in everything from Korean to South African to Bulgarian cuisine, with sauerkraut, lassi and kimchi just a few of the most popular dishes incorporating these techniques. Tastes can vary from sour to bitter to acidic, but one thing fermented foods are all noted for? A variety of potential health benefits, from weight loss to improved skin.
How are foods fermented, and what are their benefits?
You may not be familiar with the word ‘fermented’ - at least when it comes to healthy living - but what about probiotic? The process of fermentation produces an acceleration in the growth of essential probiotic nutrients, with yoghurts arguably the best-known example. The result - an increased level of good bacteria in your digestive tract - can not only improve the digestive process itself, but also help to reinforce your immune system. All this without a supplement in sight!
Which fermented foods should you be adding to your diet?
So, what do these diverse fermented products have in common? The answer: introducing a ‘starter culture’ that slowly encourages the growth of these good bacteria, turning the product’s natural carbs and sugars into essential vitamins and minerals. The resulting nutrients are ‘boosted’ - meaning the natural vitamins and minerals already present become even more effective. Kimchi, for example, sees cabbage’s already impressive vitamin C levels skyrocket, helping to plump skin thanks to increased collagen production. Tempeh, meanwhile (made from fermented soybeans), is an excellent source of protein, which is also responsible for stimulating collagen production. Replacing your usual meat or fish with tempeh or miso is a great way to incorporate these two products in your diet. For dessert? Eastern European kefir - a thick, sour drink similar to yoghurt - is a great source of vitamin D, which encourages the growth of healthy hair, skin and nails. Sold yet? We are - lead the way to the kitchen!