10 Healthiest Fermented Foods & Vegetables

Top fermented foods - Dr. Axe

The consumption of fermented, probiotic foods has many benefits. The microflora that lives in fermented foods creates a protective lining in the intestines and shields it against pathogenic factors, such as salmonella and E.coli. Indeed, to get that healthy dose of bacteria, it’s essential to consume top probiotic foods.

Fermented foods lead to an increase of antibodies and a stronger immune system; plus, they regulate the appetite and reduce sugar and refined carb cravings. In fact, fermented vegetables can help treat Candida gut.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology states that “recent scientific investigations have supported the important role of probiotics as a part of a healthy diet for humans as well as for animals and may be an avenue to provide a safe, cost effective, and natural approach that adds a barrier against microbial infection.”


Choosing the Top 10 Foods & Vegetables to Ferment

When a food is fermented, it means that it’s left to sit and steep until the sugars and carbs become bacteria-boosting agents. The fermentation of vegetables is also a great way to preserve them for a longer period of time. This gives you the option to make a large batch of it and have a ready-to-eat dose of microflora at your disposal for a very long time.

If you’re new to fermented foods, start with half a cup per day and build up from there. Here is a list of the 10 healthiest fermented foods and vegetables that will get you going:

1. Kefir

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk product (cow, goat or sheep milk) that tastes like a drinkable yogurt. Kefir benefits include high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.

It boosts immunity, heals irritable bowel disease, builds bone density, fights allergies, kills candida and improves digestion.

2. Kombucha

Grape Kombucha

There are many reasons to consume kombucha, a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar (from various sources like cane sugar, fruit or honey). It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.

After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). There are reasons to drink kombucha every day because it improves digestion, helps with weight loss, increases energy, detoxes the body, supports the immune system, reduces joint pain and prevents cancer.

3. Sauerkraut 

Sauerkraut with carrot in wooden bowl garlic spices cabbage on a cutting board

Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional foods. Made from fermented cabbage, it’s high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins. It’s also a great source of iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese and magnesium. Sauerkraut has a variety of beneficial effects on human health; it boosts digestive health, aids circulation, fights inflammation, strengthens bones and reduces cholesterol levels.

4. Pickles

Pickles - Dr. Axe

Pickles contain a ton and vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants and gut-friendly bacteria. Pickles alone can help address the all-too-common vitamin K deficiency, as one small pickle contains 18 percent of your daily value of this vitamin that’s an essential fat-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in bone and heart health. When choosing a jar of pickles, go with a food manufacturer that uses organic products. If you can find a local maker, you’ll be getting some of the best probiotics for your health.

5. Miso

Japanese Miso Paste

Miso is created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji, a fungus. Miso has anti-aging properties and helps to maintain healthy skin. It also boosts the immune system, lowers the risk cancer, improves bone health and promotes a healthy nervous system.

6. Tempeh

Tempeh - Dr. Axe

Another beneficial fermented food is tempeh, which is a soybean product that is created by adding a tempeh starter (which is a mix of live mold). When it sits for a day or two, it becomes a cake-like product.

Tempeh reduces cholesterol, increases bone density, reduces menopausal symptoms, promotes muscle recovery and has the same protein quality as meat. It contains high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3 and B2.

7. Natto

Natto - Dr. Axe

Natto is a popular dish in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans. It contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been proven to support the immune system and cardiovascular health; it also enhances the digestion of vitamin K2. In addition to these Natto benefits, it contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase that has been proven to fight cancer.

8. Kimchi

Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that is made from vegetables including cabbage, plus spices and seasoning. This Korean delicacy dates back to the 7th century.

It’s known to improve cardiovascular and digestive health. It has high levels of antioxidants that reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and gastric ulcers.

9. Raw Cheese 

Raw cheese - Dr. Axe

Raw milk cheeses are made with milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. Goat milk, sheep milk and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Probiotics benefits include healing digestive issues, neurological disorders and mental health problems; plus, probiotics boost the immune system and destroy harmful bacteria.

10. Yogurt

organic yogurt container

Probiotic yogurt is the most consumed fermented dairy product in the United States today. Yogurt intake is directly associated with better overall diet quality, healthier metabolic profiles, healthier blood pressure and increased triglyceride levels. It’s recommend when buying yogurt to look for three things: first, that it comes from goat or sheep milk; second, that it’s grass-fed; and third, that it’s organic. Yogurt is one of the top probiotic foods.

Read Next: Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Josh Axe

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