By Mila McManus, MD
The Food Industry is quick to pick up on rising trends and then capitalize on them, but not always in honest ways. That’s why it is so hard to trust package labeling. The latest one I’ve observed is with the word “Fermented”.
Fermented foods, if properly fermented and packaged, are full of the living bacteria found in your gut. We usually refer to them as probiotics. That’s why fermented foods are so healthy because they help you to maintain a healthy gut!
Fermented foods are LIVING foods. The beneficial bacteria are eating and multiplying, and that process should be ongoing when you eat them. Live ferments need to be refrigerated. So if you find something in the store that is non-refrigerated and it says it is fermented, well, its dead now. This means you have lost the key benefit of the food. The ingredient labels should be cabbage (or other vegetable), water, and salt. A spice would be ok too. It should never have preservatives, sugar, or vinegar added, and should never say “pasteurized”. If it’s pasteurized, it’s been heating to extreme which kills the bacteria and defeats the purpose. The most common packaging for living ferments is glass jars or vented pouches found only in a refrigerated section of the store. If it is in a can or jar on the veggie aisle, it is dead, highly heated, and potentially contaminated by the can itself. It may be edible but don’t expect it to help your microbiome or be deeply nutritious.
Did you know these two Fermented Food Fun Facts ?
- A study has shown that eating fermented foods appears to have lowered COVID mortality rates as much as 35.4% in countries where fermented foods are traditionally consumed.[i]
- Fermented foods may help to relieve depression and anxiety.[ii]
Here is a link to our Fermented Salsa recipe to enjoy this summer!