Top 5 fermented food products & their potential health benefits
Top 5 fermented food products & their potential health benefits
Fermented foods and beverages are becoming increasingly popular, especially during the covid-19 crisis we have seen a rise in demand. Nowadays we find kombucha on tap in bars, sourdough bread in almost every bakery and more varieties of plant based yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi in your local organic stores.
We have selected 5 out of hundreds of fermented food products and want to introduce them to you.
What are the potential promoting health benefits of Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Tempeh, Miso and Kombucha they when properly fermented. Find it out now!
So here is our list of the top 5 fermented foods:
1. Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)
One of the most famous ferments in the world and our most favorite is Sauerkraut. In the 16. Century, the Germanic people began with the process of fermenting cabbage. Over time the sugar in cabbage turns into lactic acid bacteria when given the right salt content, temperature and environment.
White or Red cabbage, salt, bay leave/juniper berries, water
Additional: Fruits, other vegetables, herbs and spices
Sauerkraut is low in calories but contains plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K (
Pay attention: the gut-friendly Lactobacillus bacteria only remain intact if Sauerkraut is consumed raw fermented (unpasteurized)
The current evidence towards probiotics and gut health from fermented foods is limited to mostly animal testing. More research is needed to look at how these findings may translate to humans.
Click here to buy our Classic Kraut (unpasteurised).
2. Kimchi (unpasteurized)
The Korean version of the European Sauerkraut is called Kimchi and carries a thousand-year-old tradition. Almost every household in Korea is fermenting the spicy cabbage based mixture and Kimchi is used as a side dish to almost everything. The recipes vary from family to family and different versions have evolved over time.
Ingredients most commonly used:
Chinese (Napa) cabbage, carrots, radish garlic, leek, ginger, gochugaru chili, salt
Kimchi may be especially effective when it comes to lowering cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance. Furthermore, Lactic acid bacteria and Vitamin C can be found in uncooked raw fermented Kimchi & Kimchi Kraut.
According to Healthline, one study, 21 people with prediabetes consumed either fresh or fermented kimchi for 8 weeks. By the end of the study, those consuming fermented kimchi had decreased insulin resistance, blood pressure, and body weight (
Click here to buy our Kimchi Kraut (unpasteurised)
Tempeh is a major protein source for most Indonesian people and has its roots in Indonesian/Asian culture. By now we see tempeh in different flavors, shapes and variations in most organic food stores all around the world. Its high plant based protein content as well as nutty firm taste makes tempeh very attractive as a meat substitute. Only two ingredients (legumes/beans and rhizopus mold) are required to ferment tempeh.
Beans/legumes (soy beans, black beans, peas, split peas, peanuts and more), rhizopus mold, salt (sometimes)
This high-protein meat substitute is firm but chewy and can be baked, steamed, or sautéed before being added to dishes. A high plant based protein content offers a great substitute for meat based proteins 9.
Additionally, a test-tube study found that certain plant compounds in tempeh could act as antioxidants. This helps reduce the buildup of free radicals, which are harmful compounds that can contribute to chronic disease (10).
Further research is needed to determine potential health benefits of tempeh also focusing on raw vs. cooked tempeh. Interesting will be to see differences of nutritional values deriving from the fermentation of beans and legumes in the future.
Miso is a common kitchen all-rounder (seasoning) in Japanese cuisine. It’s made by fermenting soybeans (or other beans) with salt and koji, a type of fungus. Miso is often used as a substitute for salt or MSG because of its natural umami flavor. Soups, stews, sauces, dressings and BBQ glaze everything can be pimped up with Miso paste.
Not only soy but also Barley, rice and Rye Miso can be found in most organic stores shelves.
Soy beans (or rye, barley etc.), Koji (Aspergillus oryzae), Choukaku-Koji (starter), salt
In a 2003 study involving 21,852 Japanese women, consuming miso soup was linked to a lower risk for breast cancer (
No further studies towards health benefits of miso could be found at the moment of writing this article and more research is required in the future.
Made from black or green tea leaves, SCOBY and sugar, Kombucha is probably the most famous fermented drink of our times. The fizzy, bubbly, refreshing drink has a very low content of sugar after fermentation and when not pasteurized contains alive bacteria.
SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” is an ingredient used in the fermentation. Fermentation is a chemical process in which carbohydrates like sugar or starch turn into alcohol or acid (
The appearance of the SCOBY can vary, but it’s typically dense, round, rubbery and opaque with a mild, vinegar-like smell. It protects the liquid and spreads throughout the surface of the jar.
Black or green tea, SCOBY, water, sugar
Additional: fruits, herbs and spices can be added in the secondary fermentation process of Kombucha.
According to Healthline: Animal studies show that drinking kombucha could help prevent liver toxicity and damage caused by exposure to harmful chemicals (
There are no proven benefits of the bacteria derived from raw kombucha yet. Currently, science is looking into the amount of alive bacteria within Kombucha, some papers mention that the amount of living bacteria in Kombucha is too small to reach the large intestine (compared to properly fermented Sauerkraut where a very large amount can be present and reach the large intestine for example) (23).
Conclusion fermented foods & health benefits
Fermented foods are a large part of our daily diets all around the world. Only now we begin to understand the benefits these foods may have on human health.
Research on the gut microbiome, human bacterial health and the gut have finally reached the popularity it deserves and is needed in order to find out which bacteria are good for us and which we should avoid.
Within our Gut-Mind journal we are bringing you cutting edge research and articles on the topic gut health and the gut microbiome as well as the effect of raw, fermented foods on our general well-being.
Click Gut Mind Journal English to learn more.