Humans have been fermenting food for nearly 9,000 years and the practice of pickling your fare continues to this day. Besides giving common ingredients such as cabbages and carrots a whole new tart, sour twist in flavour, this potent process of preserving food also adds on a number of nutritional benefits:
1. Keeps your gut healthy
The lactic acid that is produced in the fermentation process promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are vital to an efficient digestion process, especially in the small intestine.
2. Reduces sugar content
The metabolic process of fermentation involves the conversion of sugar from the food into acid, gases or alcohol. As such, the sugar content in fermented food is much lower than prior to the fermentation process.
3. Health benefits
Most fermented foods are rich in Vitamin K2. Studies have shown that this particular nutrient plays a significant role in strengthening bones and reducing heart calcification.
4. Increases nutrient absorption
Fermented foods elevate the production of digestive enzymes, which ensures a healthy digestion process and helps the body absorb the optimal amount of nutrients from the food you eat.
The next time you’re looking for healthy options in the kitchen, consider including things like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh into your savoury dishes. Alternatively, you could opt for a cup of yoghurt with some of your favourite fruit every morning to get your probiotic powerhouse fix.
When buying fermented food off the shelf, look for labels with words such as "unpasteurized," "naturally fermented," "raw," or "contains live and active cultures”. Pasteurized versions of fermented food usually don't contain any probiotics because they have been heated to a temperature that typically destroys both good and bad bacteria. However, do note that as with any unpasteurized food, your risk for foodborne illness is greater, so make sure to refrigerate your fermented products after opening, and consume them before the expiration date.