We’re all familiar with sauerkraut as a tasty condiment and wine as a choice beverage with dinner. What you might not know is that they are both fermented foods and beneficial to your health.
Fermented foods have been through lacto-fermentation, where bacteria turn sugar into lactic acid. Fermentation preserves the food, creates beneficial enzymes and vitamins and makes food more digestible.
“Probiotic-rich fermented foods provide amazing health results,” says fermentationist Summer Bock. “There’s an established connection that shows ferments improve your mood.”
Studies show probiotics in the fermented foods are beneficial to our mental health because they increase bioavailability of mood-regulating B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
Bock says probiotics boost the immune system and help with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory disease and asthma.
Fermentation helps your immune system by increasing omega-3 fatty acids, lactase and others that fight off harmful bacteria.
Fermented foods now sound more appealing, and good news: Healthy, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh are easy to make at home.
“Out of all of the ferments, sauerkraut is probably my favorite,” Bock says. “The bacteria in sauerkraut are the ones that are really linked to various health concerns and showing specific improvements.”
Sauerkraut has about 13 different probiotics, while kefir has one or two with more probiotics added in, Bock says. Nevertheless, kefir still presents benefits.
To start incorporating fermented foods into your diet, follow these recipes:
To make sauerkraut, all you need are cabbage, salt and caraway seeds. Place all ingredients in a jar and ferment for three to 10 days. Follow this recipe to get started.
Kefir, a yogurt-like drink, is also simple to make at home. All you need are milk and kefir grains to make it – follow this recipe.
Tempeh, which is fermented soybeans, serves as a good substitute for bacon in BLTs or addition to a bowl of steamed vegetables. Just grab some soybeans and a tempeh starter, and you’re good to go. To prepare tempeh, follow this recipe.
It’s time to stock up on some fermented foods.