What does “fermented” mean?

Did you know that fermented foods have actually been around for a long time? If you’ve ever had yogurt, pickles, sourdough bread, soy sauce, or even sauerkraut, you’ve eaten something that has gone through fermentation. Through fermentation, these good bacteria help remove “bad bacteria” helping to preserve the food.

 

What are the popular fermented foods?

  • Kombucha: A fermented black or green tea. Sometimes referred to as “mushroom” tea, after the yeast and bacteria colony used to make the tea.
  • Miso: fermented soybean paste popular in Japanese culture. This paste is used to add flavor to foods and is how miso soup is made.
  • Kimchi: this spicy Korean dish is made from salted and fermented cabbage and radishes.
  • Kefir: fermented milk product high in good bacteria, and is almost like a drinkable version of yogurt.

Are fermented foods actually healthy?

Fermented foods have good bacteria, which research finds to be good for gut health. These foods are also high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Is it safe for pregnant women?

Fermented foods that are not pasteurized are not safe for pregnant women, as well as infants, young children, elderly, cancer patients, those with certain illnesses such as HIV. Kombucha tea is not usually pasteurized and contains a disclaimer on the label that pregnant women should consult a healthcare professional before consuming. Pregnant women can safely eat pasteurized fermented foods, and are encouraged to do so because of their health benefits for the mother and the baby. Fermented dairy foods are a great choice because they provide all the health benefits of fermented foods as well as protein.

How much should I have?

More research is needed to determine how often and how much to consume for health benefits, as well as what amount could be harmful. Moderation is key. Even if a food is healthy, it can be unhealthy if we overdo it.