If you are like me, you may like to indulge in some fermented grapes (the good red juice) from time to time! The holidays are coming up, family is around and we all love to share the fermented juice! Red wine contains something called anti-oxidants that may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. While we have been told that red wine is good for the heart, and while I whole-heartedly agree, I’m here today to tell you about the benefits of other fermented food and drinks!
Ok, what the heck are fermented foods you ask?
Fermented foods have been through a process of lacto- fermentation (say it with me: lacto-ferment-ation…whew!) where the natural bacteria that exists in food, feeds on the sugar and starch, and creates a lactic acid. This process derives a natural fermentation and preserves the food, but also produces beneficial enzymes, B- vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and has also been known to provide various strains of probiotics (those lovely digestive aids!).
One item you may be familiar with as a fermented food is “kimchi”. This is a fermented cabbage that many Koreans will eat with every single meal to aid in digestion! The same goes for sauerkraut, another type of fermented cabbage, this one native to Germany and popular with Canadians. Perhaps you’ve been seeing some items around your grocery store that you recognize, but have no idea what they are. If sauerkraut or kimchi aren’t your thing, you could always try something called tempeh. Usually available in your vegetarian aisle at the grocery store, this fermented soybean is a complete protein and often used as a substitute for bacon.
And if you prefer your fermentation in liquid form…
Kefir drink is available in your dairy aisle – I myself have been seeing it there now for quite awhile. This can be made with either goats or cows milk and is made with a culture called “kefir starter.” The culture consumes a large amount of the lactose in the milk yielding a slightly carbonated beverage with a consistency similar to thin yogurt. This drink can be used as a base for smoothies, salad dressings, or in place of yogurt or buttermilk in recipes. Add it in where you can daily as a digestive aid!
Kombucha tea is loaded with vitamin B and comes from yeast and a culture known as “SCOBY”. Many health food stores are now carrying this tea already processed and readily available for consumption. (You can also learn to make it yourself at a much cheaper rate!) Because of the simplicity of the tea, it can take on and be combined with many flavours- sweet, fruity, plain. No matter the flavour, the health benefits are high. Kombucha tea has been linked to fighting and preventing cancer, helping with arthritis and other degenerative diseases, detoxifying and of course, a digestive aid for your system. It has been around for centuries but has only really gained popularity in the last year or so in North America. Be on the look out for it now in your local grocery and health food stores.
Introducing fermented food and drinks into your diet may be something completely new, but the benefits that these super foods carry are undeniable. If you are having the slightest bit of trouble with your digestive system, fermented foods are going to be your best friend (trust me). Not only do they aid in your digestion but provide b-vitamins, helping to prevent cancer, aiding with arthritis. It’s benefits like these that make this super food item a one-stop-shop for a happy digestive system and a happy tummy.
Here’s to happy tummies my friends!
Do you have any other fermented foods you love?
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