6 fermented foods to aid gut health

Fermented kimchi

If you are looking for a cost-effective and efficient way of preserving raw materials (that are often perishable), then fermentation is the way to go! This on-trend process is one of the many ways – other than freezing, canning, pickling or drying – that food can be preserved.

The Big Six

  1. Kefir: It tastes a bit like drinking yoghurt, but kefir is actually a fermented milk drink and is full of probiotics and calcium.
  2. Sauerkraut: Made from cabbage and salt, sauerkraut is a good source of fibre and healthy probiotics.
  3. Kimchi: Sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, kimchi is also a fermented cabbage but has more of a spicy kick. Check out our recipe for super-quick kimchi.
  4. Tempeh: Like tofu, tempeh is made from naturally fermented soya beans, but has a naturally nutty flavour. Not only is it a good source of probiotics, tempeh contains the highest amount of lysine for a vegan/vegetarian product, thus boasting all the essential amino acids.
  5. Miso: Made from fermented rice, soya beans or barley, miso is a very bold paste and adds an umami flavour to dishes. It is high in sodium and a great source of probiotics. Make our mussels steamed in Asian miso broth.
  6. Yoghurt: If labelled with ‘Live and Active Cultures’, yoghurt guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram.

Benefits of fermented food

  • Through eating fermented foods, ‘friendly’ bacteria are introduced into your gut flora, which helps you to predigest some components of food. This process improves nutrient absorption by your body and enables your gut to handle certain foods better. However, be aware that not all fermented foods contain useful levels of gut-friendly bacteria and that store-bought items can contain high levels of salt and sugars.
  • Fermentation of cabbage into sauerkraut increases glucosinolate compounds, which are thought to aid in fighting cancer.
  • The introduction of friendly bacteria can also potentially play a role in the body’s overall gut health, which could have a positive effect on allergies and auto-immune diseases, as well as on the immunity of children with HIV.

*Paravez, S., Malik, KA., Ah Kang, S. and Kim, HY. 2006. Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 100: 1171-1185.

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