Did you have your kimchi today?
These days there is a lot of buzz around eating fermented foods. So what is all the hype? What are fermented foods and why are they so beneficial?
Fermentation is a metabolic process in which bacteria or yeast break down a carbohydrate (or sugar) and turn it into a vinegar or alcohol. Many foods are fermented, from beer and wine, to sauerkraut and kimchi, to yogurt and kefir, to cheese and sourdough bread.
Fermentation has been a traditional way of preserving foods for centuries and each culture seems to have their own specialty.
The health benefits of eating fermented foods come from the healthful bacteria that remain in many of these foods, including kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt.
The healthful bacteria, also known as probiotics, help keep your gut healthy, and a healthy gut = a healthy you. The bacteria found in sauerkraut and kimchi are different from those found in milk-based foods such as kefir and yogurt. Both are beneficial and to maximize your body’s healthful gut microbiome you should include a variety of probiotic-rich foods in your diet.
You can make your own kimchi or sauerkraut, but for starters, keep it simple and try one from your local health food store. Chances are you will find one that is local or at least made with high-quality organic ingredients.
Now you may be thinking, but I don’t like sauerkraut? And how does one eat this kimchi thing? Well, even if you have shunned sauerkraut in the past I would say to give it another try. I did. I always skipped the sauerkraut in the past, but given my new awareness of its health benefits, I decided to give it another try.
A few months ago I went to our local Whole Foods and found this beautiful pink-colored beet-cabbage sauerkraut. I love beets and was intrigued by this combination. Taste test? It was actually quite good! Like pickles and other vinegar-based foods, it adds a nice tang to an otherwise plain meal. I also picked up some locally made kimchi, and it too added a nice flavor boost to my meals. (And has hopefully been adding a healthy bacteria boost to my gut!)
Here are my recommendations for adding kimchi or sauerkraut to your diet:
- Use it to perk up a leftover lunch
- Add it as a topping to quinoa, brown rice, or farro
- Serve over a salad
- Just eat a spoonful while you are deciding on what to have for dinner!
How do you like your kimchi?