Fermented foods have long been a staple of most cultures worldwide. Fermentation is an excellent way to preserve food and it comes with health advantages including live probiotic cultures, enzymes and other digestive benefits. Unfortunately, our modern rush to process foods and even new canning methods has eliminated most of this from our diets.  Even yogurt has to be scrutinized as much of it is devoid of live cultures and loaded with added sugar. We would do well to to search out and add a number of these foods for daily consumption.

Image-1Have you tried Kochujang? It’s a fermented soybean-based red pepper paste commonly used as a seasoning in traditional Korean cuisine. I’m looking at a paper from the respected journal “Nutrition & Metabolism” which details a high quality study (placebo controlled/double blind) showing reduced belly fat and decreased triglycerides in the group which consumed Kochujang. I love hot peppers so will go to the Korean market soon and pick some up and let you know how it tastes. Kimchi  (spicy fermented cabbage) is the more familiar Korean staple.

There are many other choices. I’ve recently startedImage-1 drinking Kefir which is milk based. It’s sort of a liquid yogurt and is good in smoothies, mixed with vegetable juice or straight. Other dairy choices are buttermilk, sour cream and certain high quality cheeses (not to be confused with cellophane wrapped American cheese slices – not sure what’s in that stuff) Soy products also include natto,  miso, tempeh, soy sauce and fermented tofu. (Strong arguments are made that the only healthy way to eat soy is in fermented form) Other vegetable choices are sauerkraut and pickles. As you can see, many of these foods contain both probiotics and prebiotics. We would do well to consume one or more daily and include a variety. Let me know if you try Kochujang or have other favorites.

Next post: Probiotics as pharmaceuticals.