List of Fermented Foods That are Good for Your Health

Fermented food example - kimchi
Fermented foods are literally packed with good bacteria. It is important to include them in our diet. Including a single probiotic food will immensely benefit the body.

In case you are wondering what are fermented foods, the answer is very simple; fermented foods are those foods in which the sugars are converted into alcohol using bacteria or yeast. Fermentation is a very popular food preservation technique. But today, foods are fermented to reap their various health benefits.

There are some probiotic foods which are a must in your daily diet. These are not bland or boring, and you will actually enjoy eating them. So let’s take a look at some healthy fermented foods, in the following sections.

List of Healthy Fermented Foods and Their Benefits

1. Kimchi

If you like spicy food, then the Korean side-dish kimchi should definitely be on your list. It is packed with both, nutrition and strength. Kimchi is usually made with cabbage, but radish, scallion or cucumber is used as well. The vegetables may vary according to the season and availability. They are seasoned with brine, spices, ginger, and shrimp or fish sauce. Kimchi has featured in the list of World’s Healthiest Foods by Health magazine.

Benefits
Kimchi packs 50% of your daily recommended vitamin C; plus, it has vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium, and iron. Most importantly, it contains lactic acid, and all the good bacteria.

Serving Tip
You can eat kimchi as is, or with rice. By combining it with other dishes, you can get tastier options, like kimchi burger, kimchi fried rice, or kimchi soup.

2. Kefir

It is a fermented milk drink, packed with calcium and probiotics. The drink is made by adding kefir grains to milk. These grains are made of lactic acid bacteria, and resemble cauliflowers. Cow, goat, or even sheep milk can be used to make kefir. The grains also ferment soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, fruit juice, and coconut water. It is definitely one of the best fermented foods with probiotics.

Benefits
Kefir contains all the nutrients of the milk used to make this drink. Since most of the lactose is broken down, people who are lactose intolerant can enjoy kefir as well.

Serving Tip
You can get kefir grains or kefir powder in health stores. It is best to consume it immediately after preparation. It remains unspoiled for about a month without refrigeration.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is prepared by bacterial fermentation of milk. The lactose in the milk gets converted into lactic acid, thus making the yogurt suitable for lactose intolerant people too. Cow milk is preferred when making yogurt, but buffalo, goat, camel, or even yak milk can be used.

Benefits
Very low in fat, yogurt is packed with protein, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B6, B12, etc.

Serving Tip
Yogurt can be enjoyed plain or with fruits and nuts too. Since it’s very light, it makes a wonderful snack food. If you like it savory, you can add salt and spices to it.

4. Tempeh

Tempeh is a healthy natural fermented food. It is made by fermenting soybeans in a controlled process, and has a slightly nutty flavor. Tempeh is an excellent source for proteins for vegetarians.

Benefits
Tempeh is a good source of probiotics. It contains all the essential amino acids.

Serving Tip
Tempeh can be eaten alone or used in salads, sandwiches, soups, or burgers. It makes a crispy snack when deep-fried in oil. It is also suitable for marination, and can be grated as well.

5. Miso

Miso is a fermented paste made from barley, rice, or soybeans. It has lactic acid bacteria, making it a very healthy probiotic food. It is used in soups, sauces, pickles, etc. Miso soup with rice is a Japanese staple.

Benefits
Miso is very high in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. But it is important to remember that it has high quantities of sodium too.

Serving Tip
You can use one or two tablespoons of miso to make soup, or include it in your diet as a salad dressing. But never add it while cooking food, as the heat kills all the good bacteria. Once you remove the soup from the heat, you can add in the miso.

6. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made from cabbage and salt, and packs a healthy dose of probiotic nutrients. Basically, it is fermented cabbage. It is served with meat dishes, and is also added to sandwiches and hot dogs.

Benefits
Sauerkraut has several benefits. It is low in calories, and has vitamins like C, B, and K. It has calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, potassium, and copper. Uncooked and pasteurized sauerkraut is an excellent source of lactobacilli. It also aids in digestion, and helps in reducing canker sores.

Serving Tip
Sauerkraut, if properly fermented, stays for months if packed in an airtight container. It is best consumed raw.

7. Pickles

Pickling not only gives an amazing taste to food, but also increases the nutritive value. Brine or vinegar is used to preserve food. Initially, pickling was used to store food, especially foods which were not available all around the year. But today, it is done for the taste and various health benefits.

Benefits
The good bacteria that are developed as the pickles ferment detox and cleanse our body.

Serving Tip
Pickles can be paired with any dish of your choice. Always opt for pickles made from salt brine. Do remember though, that pickles have very high sodium content.

8. Kombucha

Kombucha is an effervescent tangy tea flavored with herbs or fruits. Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (scoby) is used along with black or green tea. Very little (2 – 3%) alcohol is produced during fermentation.

Benefits
It is very popular, and is known as the ‘Tea of Immortality’ in China. But, the nutritional benefits of this tea haven’t been proven as yet. If the tea is not fermented properly, there can be some side effects.

Serving Tip
You can add fruits or syrups to make the tea a great summer drink, or enjoy it with spices.

Main Benefits of Fermented Foods

┗ Development of immune system
┗ Provide beneficial bacteria
┗ Detoxification of the body
┗ Natural supplements
┗ Aid in digestion
┗ Prevent depression
┗ Help in hormonal balance
┗ Better absorption of nutrients

Fermented foods have several benefits, which our ancestors rightly understood. Although most of the above food items are a result of preservation techniques, their nutritive importance also made them a staple in our diet. When there is good flora in our gut, overall improvement in health is seen. Right from taking care of our immune system to benefits to the skin and hair, and protection from common allergies to weight loss, are some of the reasons why you should consume probiotics.

Now that you know how beneficial and delicious fermented foods can be, you should definitely include them in your diet. Just remember though, it is always better and safer to prepare the dishes at home.

Foods Easy to Digest

People having digestion problems are often on the look out of foods that do not burden the stomach. When the body loses its ability to digest food, it is time for dietary modifications. For instance, medical conditions like gastroenteritis, demand that the person should be extremely careful when it comes to choosing foods. In such cases, having easily digestible foods can contribute immensely to mitigate digestive issues effectively.
Easily Digestible Foods
Foods that are good sources of soluble and insoluble fiber are easy to digest. Both soluble and insoluble fiber play an important role to maintain normal digestion. They facilitate movement of ingested food through the gastrointestinal tract and ensure smooth bowel movement.
Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are high in insoluble fiber, therefore easier to digest. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, and unlike high fat foods do not slow down the digestion process. These vegetables also increase the production of enzymes that help to detoxify the digestive system. So, if your digestive system has become sluggish, eating green leafy vegetables like spinach, alfalfa sprouts, zucchini and squash is recommended.
White Boiled Rice
Doctors often recommend including more rice in the diet for better digestion. The contents of rice often help to stimulate the digestion process. The digestive system has to do minimal amount of work to promote breakdown of carbohydrates present in rice. Although brown rice is a healthier option, white rice is digested more quickly than brown rice. The carbohydrates present in white rice are converted to sugar at a faster rate, hence white rice is digested pretty quickly.
Fruits
Fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, and oranges require very less time to get digested due to their high water content. Watermelon is considered to be the most quickly digestible food, with a digestion time of around 20 minutes. Whereas, fruits like bananas, peaches and apricots contain certain enzymes that also help promote digestion.
Chicken
If you are thinking what to give to a person with an upset tummy, skinless boiled chicken can be a good choice. A meal consisting of low-fat chicken and cooked rice certainly won’t irritate your gastrointestinal tract and burden your digestive system, as these are very easy to digest.
Oats
Oats are very easy to digest as they are high in dietary fiber. People with digestion problems are often advised to include oats in their diet. Whole-grain oat foods that include oat bran and oatmeal contain both soluble and insoluble fiber that promote bowel function and support digestive health.
Yogurt
Although, yogurt does not contain fiber, it is full of good bacteria that help to relieve abdominal discomfort and bloating, commonly associated with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. The billions of ‘friendly’ bacteria in a cup of yogurt aid in digestion. They restrict the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. The beneficial bacteria also help to improve lactose digestion in people who are lactose intolerant. Preferably have homemade fresh yogurt as it contains the highest amount of active bacterial cultures. Commercial brands such as Yoplaint also contain live and active cultures, which is distinctly specified on the product label.
Plain Crackers
This is another food item that is considered easy for digestion. Plain crackers also have a pleasing taste and hence people do not think twice to have it in their diet. Digestive biscuits made from whole wheat flour and oatmeal are easy on the gut and good for digestion.
Scrambled Eggs
A light breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast is not at all difficult to digest. People who are put on a bland diet can also have boiled scrambled eggs. Toasts, especially for people suffering from Crohn’s disease are helpful to get digestive relief. White toasts are basically bland carbohydrates that can be easily digested and are ideal for an upset stomach. It is observed that the body takes less time to digest toasts than fresh bread. So having toast for breakfast, instead of fresh bread is definitely a better option.
Ways to Improve Digestion
One should avoid or reduce intake of water during meals. Excess water may dilute the digestive juices and cause the process to slow down. Light exercise such as brisk walking after meals can also help to improve digestion. Frequency of meals is also an important factor, that can contribute to improve digestion. In order to keep digestive issues at bay, an easy solution is to have 5-6 small-sized meals throughout the day. People who face difficulty in digesting solid food should have mashed food during meals.

High Energy Foods

The role of high energy foods is to provide our body with the much-needed energy required to perform daily activities. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and which are low in sugar, cholesterol and fats act as energy boosters for the body. Complex carbohydrates provide long-lasting energy to the body. Protein not only helps to release energy, but also acts as a back-up energy providers when carbohydrates are not available. Bananas, eggs, and nuts are top energy-boosting foods that can be easily included in the diet. Most of the foods mentioned below provide energy and are also rich sources of vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Energy-boosting Foods
Whole Grains
Being complex carbohydrates, whole grains are the best energy foods for athletes. Moreover, whole grain foods contain high amounts of fiber and antioxidants, and thus, prevent various health problems. Whole grains digest slowly, and therefore, provide you with long-lasting energy levels. E.g.Cereals, whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and pasta.
Legumes
One of the important features of legumes is, they are low in glycemic index and hence are ideal for diabetic patients. They are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. They absorb the bad cholesterol in the body and help to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Legumes are rich sources of important minerals required by the body, which include, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. E.g. Baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
Vegetables and Fruits
When cooking vegetables, try steaming or microwaving them to retain their nutrients. Vegetables like beet, carrot, cabbage can be consumed in their raw state for maximum health benefits. If you are trying to lose weight, leafy vegetables are useful. Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and spinach are high in nutrients and energy. Fruits like oranges are high in vitamin C, which helps to relieve fatigue. E.g. Apple, banana, pear, citrus fruits, grapes, avocado, spinach, yams, carrot, and potato.
Dairy Products
Dairy products are the major sources of dietary calcium for the body. Their intake boosts the energy levels without significantly increasing the total calorie or fat intake. E.g. Milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, and skim milk smoothies.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are loaded with proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats which act as a great source of energy for the body. Snacking on a handful of these nuts and seeds can keep you full for a longer time, keeping your energy levels up.E.g. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and Flax seeds.
Non-vegan Foods
Non-vegetarian foods are rich sources of protein and vitamins, especially vitamin B12 which is not available in plant sources. Though proteins obtained from animal sources are essential for the body, they should be consumed in moderate amounts. Red meat contains a high amount of saturated fat which can lead to heart diseases. Fish are low in fat and are good sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. E.g. Fish, Meat, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Turkey, Veal, Beef, and Shellfish.
Energy-enhancing Foods
Biscuits, cakes, desserts, egg, pulses, peanut butter, pea and ham soup, bran muffin, juices, high protein energy bars, smoothies, soups, etc. are great sources of energy, but must be had in moderation, to complement your diet in the right way.
Our body converts the energy stored in these food items into a form of energy that can be utilized by our body. So, when we talk about the calories present in a food item, it is actually the amount of energy stored in that particular food. Thus, we can say that foods that are high in calories are a great source of energy. But, not all energy-providing foods are beneficial for the body. Many high calorie foods like those containing sugar, provides energy that last for a short time. Moreover, the calories supplied by such foods are quite unhealthy since they get converted into fats. But, there are many foods that are low in calories and provide enough energy to accomplish the daily tasks without posing any health problems. Thus, one should rely on low calorie foods for a healthy diet.
The foods mentioned above are great energy boosters and should be a part of a healthy diet. A nutritious diet is the key to a healthy life, but apart from it you should also exercise regularly to relieve stress and fatigue. So, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and be active to stay fit and healthy.