Published on August 30th, 2013 | by Brenda Cobb0
The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
Most people have tried some form of fermented foods at one point or another in their lifetime, but have no idea how these savory foods can boost their health. Fermented foods offer us two main benefits: a powerful boost to the digestive system and good bacteria to fight off all the bad bacteria we encounter on a daily basis.
The process of fermentation occurs when natural bacteria feeds on sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. These enzymes, vitamins and other byproducts of the fermentation process help our bodies digest our food and more easily absorb key nutrients for optimal health.
Many cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for ages, from sauerkraut in Germany to Kimichi in Korea. Sadly, the amount of probiotics and enzymes available in the average American diet has declined sharply over the last few decades, contributing to an overall decline in health.
Long ago, grains were safer and easier to digest because they were not genetically altered. Preparation of the early grains included soaking, sprouting and fermenting. This process reduced the anti-nutrient content and made them less harmful. Instead of the nutrient-rich foods full of enzymes and probiotics that our grandparents ate, the average diet today consists mainly of sugar- and fat-laden highly modified foods.
In addition to the great taste of fermented foods and their benefits, here are several key health reasons to include more fermented foods into your daily diet.
Probiotics – Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks will introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive system and help keep it balanced. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion and improve the immune system.
Better Food Absorption – Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes, along with a healthy raw food diet, helps the body absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. You won’t need as many supplements and vitamins, and you’ll be absorbing more of the live nutrients in your foods.
Budget Friendly – You can make your own veggie kraut at home for a few dollars and it lasts for several months in the refrigerator.
Preserves Food and Retains Nutrients – Homemade cabbage kraut will easily store for longer periods of time, and retains nutrients that would be lost in traditional heat-based canning methods.
Use all organic ingredients:
2 heads of cabbage
2 Tbsp juniper berries
2 Tbsp powdered kelp seaweed
1. Remove 6 to 8 outer cabbage leaves and set aside
2. Chop rest of cabbage in food processor until finely chopped and juicy (It is important that the cabbage be ground so fine that when you squeeze a handful, the juices freely run. If the cabbage is too dry, it will not properly ferment.)
3. Grind the juniper berries into a powder
4. Use a stainless steel or glass container to layer the cabbage (a ceramic crock will also work). Put about two inches of the cabbage in the bottom of the pot and pack it down tightly.
6. Sprinkle the cabbage layer with 1 tsp ground juniper berries and 1 tsp powdered kelp seaweed. Continue this layering process until all the cabbage, juniper berries and kelp have been used. The final layer should be cabbage on the top.
7. Cover the top of the mixture with the set aside whole cabbage leaves until all is covered. Place a plate on top of the cabbage leaves and a heavy weight, such as a rock, to hold the plate firmly down. Cover the top of the container and leave at room temperature for three to seven days.
8. When the fermentation is complete, remove the cabbage leaves and throw away. Then stir the cabbage mixture well and pack it into glass jars all the way to the top. Put the lids on the jars and store in the refrigerator. The fermented kraut will keep in the refrigerator for several months.
Note: If any mold grows on top of the cabbage during the fermentation process, this is not dangerous. Remove the mold and throw it away. Then stir the fermented cabbage and pack it in glass jars.