Why Eat Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods have been a part of the human diet since prehistoric times. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in this area, and more and more people are interested in fermentation and in eating fermented foods.
But what exactly are fermented foods, and why might it be a good idea to include some in our homegrown diets? Read on to find out more about why fermented foods can be a great idea, to reduce food waste, and to improve your health.
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermentation is a term used in food production to refer to the metabolic processes and the action of micro-organisms like yeasts or bacteria through which a desirable change is brought about in food or drink.
Humans learned to use these processes in prehistoric times. Over the centuries, people have used fermentation to create things to eat and drink, and to preserve the produce they foraged and grew.
Fermentation is used to refer to the process through which sugars (from fruits or other plant matter) is turned into ethanol by yeast, producing alcoholic drinks.
It is also used to refer to vinegars, which take this process one step further. The ethanol converted from sugar by yeast is then turned to acetic acid by acetic acid bacteria.
Fermentation also refers to the processes by which vegetables are turned into sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi etc. .. And many other foods are preserved or transformed through the agency of different, specific, yeasts and bacteria. These are often referred to as fermented foods.
Why Eat Fermented Foods?
In the past, fermentation was commonly used to preserve foods, increase shelf life and improve the flavour of the food that was grown. Properly and carefully fermented foods can still bring these benefits today. It can help us to prevent food waste, and make the most of the food we grow – enjoying as varied and interesting a diet as possible.
Today, however, we have a deeper understanding that fermented foods can also bring a range of health benefits. The microbial agents involved in the process have been shown in some studies to bring such benefits as anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-atherosclerotic activity.
Consuming fermented foods is widely believed to be good for digestive health, helping us absorb and retain essential nutrients, and even influencing our mood. So it is definitely an interesting thing to consider if you want to live healthily and really make the most of all of the produce you grow.
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