Fermented foods are eaten across cultures and have a wide variety of health benefits. Whether you’ve been enjoying fermented foods for years or are just starting to branch out, we have all the information you need to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods. Plus, we’ve included some of our favorite recipes!

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is the naturally-occurring process in which food is broken down by beneficial bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Microbes consume sugars and other compounds in the food, resulting in byproducts like organic acids, gases, and alcohol. This process preserves the food and creates unique flavors.

Fermentation also provides functional benefits. The fermentation process enriches the food with probiotics and digestive enzymes that can have a myriad of health benefits.[1,2]

Quick Facts:

  • Probiotics: beneficial bacteria introduced or generated during fermentation
  • Enzymes: proteins that speed up chemical reactions, aiding in digestion
  • Preservation: acidic or alcoholic environment created by fermentation deters spoilage

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Gut Health

Your gut is not just a digestive organ. It’s a complex ecosystem teeming with trillions of microbes. Probiotics found in fermented foods contribute to this ecosystem. The help with digestion and nutrient absorption. They are also responsible for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which is crucial for health.[3]

Immune Support

Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut? That’s right! By enhancing gut health, probiotics play a crucial role in strengthening your immune system. Several studies show that a healthy gut microbiome helps fend off pathogens and reduces the frequency of infections.[4]

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is one of our body’s natural defense mechanisms. But chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases. Probiotics and other bioactive compounds in fermented foods have anti-inflammatory properties. These can help manage conditions like arthritis and even heart disease.[3]

Blood Sugar Regulation

A balanced gut microbiome may have a role in managing blood sugar levels. Kefir and yogurt (both fermented foods!) may have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. This can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes.[5]

Mood Enhancement

The gut-brain axis is a hot topic in scientific research right now. A balanced gut microbiome may impact neurotransmitters and mood-regulating hormones.[4]

Types of Fermented Foods

If you’re new to the world of fermented foods, you’re in for a treat—both flavor-wise and health-wise! Here are some popular options:

  • Kimchi: traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables
  • Sauerkraut: finely chopped cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria (sauerkraut is actually German for “sour cabbage”)
  • Yogurt: fermented milk products enriched with beneficial bacteria
  • Kefir: fermented milk drink, similar to yogurt but with a thinner consistency
  • Tempeh: fermented soy product that is a good source of complete protein
  • Miso Paste: Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans
  • Kombucha: a fizzy drink made by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast
  • Pickles: fermented cucumbers in a brine of water, salt, and spices

Simple Kimchi Stir-Fried Rice


  1. 2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice (preferably day-old)
  2. 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon kimchi juice
  4. 2 eggs, beaten
  5. 1 small onion, diced
  6. 2 green onions, sliced
  7. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  9. 1 teaspoon olive oil


  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent.
  • Add the chopped kimchi and kimchi juice. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Push the kimchi mixture to the side and pour the beaten eggs into the skillet. Quickly scramble the eggs.
  • Add the day-old rice to the skillet. Stir to combine all the ingredients.
  • Drizzle in the soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring to mix well.
  • Garnish with sliced green onions.

Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, minced garlic, and lemon juice.
  2. Stir in the chopped dill and parsley.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill for at least one hour to let the flavors come together.
  5. Serve with raw vegetables or as a tangy spread for sandwiches.

Kombucha Vinaigrette


  • 1/4 cup kombucha (any flavor – we love raspberry]
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a jar with a lid, combine the kombucha, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sweetener.
  2. Seal the jar and shake vigorously until well combined.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy with leafy greens or drizzle over protein for some zing.

Looking for other recipe ideas using fermented foods: Orange Glazed Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes and Vegetarian Sauerkraut Sandwich

Final Thoughts

  • Fermentation is a natural preservation method that enriches food with probiotics and enzymes.
  • Fermented foods offer many health benefits, ranging from gut health to mood enhancement.
  • From sauerkraut to kombucha, there’s likely a fermented food that suits your palate.


  1. Tamang, J. P., Watanabe, K., & Holzapfel, W. H. (2016). Review: Diversity of Microorganisms in Global Fermented Foods and Beverages. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 377. Link
  2. Rezac, S., Kok, C. R., Heermann, M., & Hutkins, R. (2018). Fermented Foods as a Dietary Source of Live Organisms. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 1785. Link
  3. Hill, C., Guarner, F., Reid, G., Gibson, G. R., Merenstein, D. J., Pot, B., … & Calder, P. C. (2014). Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 11(8), 506–514. Link
  4. Hemarajata, P., & Versalovic, J. (2013). Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: Mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 6(1), 39–51. Link
  5. Tilg, H., & Moschen, A. R. (2014). Microbiota and diabetes: an evolving relationship. Gut, 63(9), 1513–1521. Link
  6. Marco, M. L., Heeney, D., Binda, S., Cifelli, C. J., Cotter, P. D., Foligné, B., … & Ouwehand, A. (2017). Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 44, 94–102. Link