Fermentation is a process that involves the breakdown of sugars by bacteria and yeast.
Not only does this help enhance the preservation of foods, but eating fermented foods can also boost the number of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, found in your gut.
Probiotics have been associated with a variety of health benefits, including improved digestion, better immunity and even increased weight loss.
This article looks at 6 fermented foods that have been shown to improve health and aid digestion.
8. Probiotic Yogurt
Yogurt is produced from milk that has been fermented, most commonly with lactic acid bacteria.
It is high in many important nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin B12.
Yogurt has also been associated with a wide variety of health benefits.
One review of 14 studies showed that fermented milk products like probiotic yogurt could help reduce blood pressure, especially in those with high blood pressure.
Sauerkraut is a popular condiment consisting of shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is low in calories but contains plenty of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K.
It also contains a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help promote eye health and reduce the risk of eye disease.
The antioxidant content of sauerkraut may also have promising effects on cancer prevention.
Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish that is usually made from fermented cabbage, although it can also be made from other fermented vegetables like radishes.
It boasts an extensive array of health benefits and may be especially effective when it comes to lowering cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance.
Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose from the blood to the tissues. When you sustain high levels of insulin for long periods, your body stops responding to it normally, resulting in high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is fizzy, tart and flavorful. It is made from either black or green tea and contains their potent health-promoting properties.
Animal studies show that drinking kombucha could help prevent liver toxicity and damage caused by exposure to harmful chemicals.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a compact cake.
This high-protein meat substitute is firm but chewy and can be baked, steamed or sautéed before being added to dishes.
In addition to its impressive probiotic content, tempeh is rich in many nutrients that may better your health. For example, soy protein has been shown to reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
Natto is a staple probiotic food in traditional Japanese cuisine and, like tempeh, made from fermented soybeans.
It contains a good amount of fiber, providing 5 grams per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
Fiber may help support digestive health. It moves through the body undigested, adding bulk to stool to help promote regularity and alleviate constipation .
Natto is also high in vitamin K, an important nutrient that’s involved in the metabolism of calcium and plays a major role in bone health. In one study of 944 women, natto intake was associated with reduced bone loss in those who were postmenopausal.
Fermentation can help increase both the shelf life and health benefits of many different foods.
The probiotics found in fermented foods have been associated with improvements in digestion, immunity, weight loss and more.
In addition to containing these beneficial probiotics, fermented foods can positively impact many other aspects of health and are an excellent addition to your diet.