Despite the increasing readability lately, fermented foods have been around for thousands of years. In fact, these products have an important place in the diet in many countries around the world, each of which have created unique flavors and a solid tradition around the art of fermentation.
A simple example is that of the Mediterranean diet where 1/3 of our diet is based on these foods such as bread, olives, sheep yogurt, wine, capers, vinegar, coffee and alcohol.
Let me warn you though before you start bombarding your diet with these products over the weekend. The fact that they are fermented foods does not necessarily mean that they are good for you. Also, not all fermented products contain living microorganisms. This is due to the fact that many living microorganisms die out during their production as well as during their preparation such as heat (e.g., in the case of bread) and filtration (filtration – a method in which solid particles contained in a liquid mixture such wine are isolated).
Nevertheless, the benefits of these foods are just as important as the presence of living microorganisms. For example, sourdough bread, has proven to have a better blood sugar response than unleavened wholemeal bread even though microorganisms die out during baking. In addition, not all yogurts contain significant amounts of living microorganisms, but studies have shown that yogurt has been associated with better weight management than unfermented products such as milk.
Although the scientific community does not have enough information / studies on fermented products this does not negate the potential benefits.
What we already know about fermentation:
- Helps increasing nutrient absorption the of vitamins such as folic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B12.
- It is also known that the fermentation process improves the taste, texture and digestion. For example, in red grapes, fermentation of grapes improves the release of polyphenols that the intestine loves.
- It may reduce the gluten content in bread and the lactose in dairy products.
- Contains beneficial compounds for our body, such as organic acids that can help lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar and support our immune system.
- It may remove or reduce toxins and some non-nutritious ingredients. For example, fermentation can significantly reduce phytic acids which although they are not harmful to the body, they prevent the absorption of other nutrients such as zinc and iron.
In addition, products that you can find in the market for consumption that will give additional benefits include kefir, kimchi, kombucha, natto (soybeans), Indonesian tempeh (soy product), pickled vegetables such as celery, cucumber, capers, beetroot, sheep yogurt etc.
Clinical Dietitian – Nutritionist, MSc