As discussed in the first part of this article, the benefits of fermented foods are fantastic.
There are a variety of fermented foods available – here are some popular ones to try:
Sauerkraut is based on shredded cabbage but may also include other vegetables such as carrot.
If purchasing sauerkraut choose an organic raw brand as many commercial brands will be heat-treated and will lack any beneficial bacteria. Based on cabbage it provides plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre.
A popular Korean fermented food. While recipes vary it normally contains fermented cabbage, radish and other vegetables as well as spices including garlic and chilli.
A good source of A, C and B vitamins. Popular served with spicy beef dishes.
The an ancient, cultured food, kefir, is rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species and Streptococcus species) as well as beneficial yeasts, which can support digestive function and immune health.
It is made with kefir ‘grains’, which are not actually a grain but are a mother culture. Although cow’s milk is typically used, it can be made with sheep’s milk, coconut or nut milk. You can also make water kefir using water grains.
Kefir can be made at home or can be purchased in health stores or online.
Kombucha – called the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ by the ancient Chinese – has been consumed for more than 2,000 years.
It is made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (known as SCOBY). It is rich in many of the enzymes your body produces for digestion and it aids cleansing and supports liver health.
Kombucha contains glucosamines, which are beneficial for cartilage structure and to prevent arthritis. It is also antioxidant rich and good for immune health.
You can buy kombucha online or make your own using a SCOBY starter.
Yogurt/ Coconut Yoghurt
A popular traditional food yoghurt is typically made from dairy. Homemade yoghurt is healthier than shop bought and richer in probiotic bacteria.
Use high quality organic and grass-fed whole milk for best benefits. Depending on how long it has been fermented for yoghurt will contain less lactose than milk, which can be helpful for anyone with lactose intolerance.
You can also make yoghurt from coconut and nut milks to make it dairy free.
Sour cream is simply fermented cream instead of fermented milk. Cream only contains traces of lactose and casein, which may make it more easily tolerated.
A traditional fermented soya product, salty and traditionally served with rice.
There is a big difference between homemade fermented foods and shop bought versions. Many commercial varieties are not only packed in salt, sugar and vinegar but are pasteurized which destroys much of the beneficial bacteria.
Beware of some “probiotic” yogurts, too. Many contain added sugars and syrups and typically levels of beneficial bacteria are lower than homemade versions.
If you are interested in making your own fermented foods check out my recipes on my website or in my book Eat to Get Younger: Tackling Inflammation and Other Ageing Processes for a Longer, Healthier Life. ISBN-13: 978-1848191792 Singing Dragon.