Fermentation in foods is a process of converting foods rich in carbohydrates to other chemical compounds such as alcohol and organic acids. This process uses naturally grown and industrial microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria like lactobacillus that are kept under anaerobic conditions.
Common types of fermented foods
Although different communities all over the world ferment various local foods, there are those that are common globally.
Bread: Bread such as loaf and sourdough are made from dough that is fermented mostly using yeast as a microorganism and a catalyst to stimulate fermentation. Bread is rich in carbohydrates that are a good source of energy for respiration in our bodies.
Cheese: Some cheese such as Shanklish that is common Levantine cuisine is fermented during the process of preparation.
Cocoa: Cocoa beans are fermented during the chocolate making process and other cocoa products.
Cod liver oil: Traditionally, cod liver oil was fermented during the preparation but in the modern process, there is an easier and faster way of processing it.
Fermented milk: Milk is fermented using organic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus and leuconostoc thus making it sour.
Ketchup: Some tomato ketchup, especially in Indonesian cuisine, is fermented during preparation.
Sour cabbage: In German cuisine, vegetable such as cabbage is prepared through fermentation and it is commonly known as sauerkraut.
Sour cream: Sour cream is prepared by fermenting cream using lactic acid bacterial culture.
Yogurt: This is another form of fermented milk product prepared through bacterial fermentation.
Nutritional benefit of fermented foods
When foods go through fermentation, bacteria feeds on sugars and starch and in the process produce beneficial enzymes, vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics strains.
1. Enzymes. Enzymes found in fermented foods include digestive enzymes that help the body to produce immune and proper brain function, especially during neurotransmission.
2. Vitamins. Vitamins such as B-Vitamins are found in fermented foods. B-Vitamins help in a wide range of body functioning such as cellular processes, enhancing good enzyme reactions in the body and maintaining optimal body cholesterol levels.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids lower the amount blood fats called triglycerides that contribute to cholesterol.
4. Probiotics strains. Probiotics such as Lactobacillus found in fermented foods help our body to digest lactose easily.
Fermented foods have always shown positive effects on our bodies. Although they are rarely used in our daily meals, they contribute to great extents the well-being of our bodies.