What are Fermented Foods?

Author: Emily Seddon   Date Posted:22 August 2016 

Fermented Foods.

Fermented foods are all the rage at the moment. Not only are they delicious, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch. Here are a few fun facts that may trigger a taste test!

1. Fermented foods were first developed thousands of years ago to preserve food.

They have gone through a process of “lactofermentation.” This is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates various strains of probiotics, along with beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids.

2. The most common fermented food we see in Australia is yoghurt.

The preserving, fermenting process happens due a culture of live bacteria being added to milk, commonly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.

3. Can’t drink milk? Yoghurt may be a better option.

Generally lower in lactose than other dairy products, the lactose in yoghurt may also be better tolerated with people with low lactase levels. Don’t go overboard though! If you are going to experiment with this be sure to start slow and to do so with the knowledge of your healthcare provider.

4. One batch of kefir can last you for years!

Kefir is fermented milk drink, made from mixing milk with kefir grains. As the grains ferment the milk, new structures grow, creating new grains in the process. Real kefir from live culture is an endlessly self-propagating process.

5. Kefir is a multi-cultural community, bigger than your family!

Kefir may contain up to 30 different strains of probiotics. Due to these levels of beneficial bacteria, kefir shows action to regulate and modulate the immune system as well as recolonize the digestive tract.

6. You can also find kefir made from water based sources, like coconut water kefir.

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7. Kombucha is nature’s fizzy drink.

Kombucha is a tea-based fermentation that is made using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Easy to flavour, low in sugar and a source of probiotics makes kombucha a perfect alternative for soft drink!

8. Sauerkraut might make you fart, but that’s a good thing!

It’s normal to notice a bit of gas with cruciferous veggies AND when you add in new probiotics, so don’t be surprised if you do. Studies show that a healthy gut may pass wind up to 20 times a day!

9. Kimchi, a traditional Korean vegetable dish, is such a staple that in the 2010 Kimchi Crisis the Korean government stepped in to subsidize its price.

No wonder it’s so popular, kimchi is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and A, as well as being super-delicious.

10. Miso paste: a superfood for vegetarians?

Miso paste contains a high percentage of protein and some Vitamin B12, making it a perfect addition to a vegetarian diet. It is made by fermenting soy beans, rice or barley with a form of fungus, Aspergillus oryzae. Common ways to tuck into it are miso soup, as a marinade, in a salad dressing, sauce or dip.

11. Tempeh may be a better option than tofu.

It contains more protein than tofu but can be used in the same way. The traditional Indonesian food uses a different form of fungus to be fermented, which removes phytic acid also allowing the body to digest the soy more easily.

12. Sourdough is easier to digest.

The bacteria in sourdough produce enzymes that predigest starches in the bread, making it easy on the tummy. These enzymes also reduce phytates present, allowing higher availability of many minerals in the bread.

13. Did you know chocolate is fermented!

Fermentation of the cacao reduces the bitter flavour in the product – the longer the ferment, the sweeter the flavour. Dark chocolate has a stronger bitter flavour, the less it has been fermented and the more antioxidant polyphenols it contains.

14. And wine too!

It doesn’t mean you should go crazy on the stuff, however it is interesting to point out that dry wines are fermented further, leaving less residual sugar in the beverage.

Written by Emily Seddon
Emily Seddon

Emily (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a love of science. Growing up with a hippy mum and dad, Emily grew used to thinking outside the box for her own health. She has since completed a degree in Health Science, majoring in Naturopathy, combining that passion for healthy living with scientific and traditional evidence to help others to live happy and healthy lives.

She loves using herbal and nutritional medicine to treat ailments and lives by the philosophy of "there is no such thing as too much tea."

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