According to dietitians surveyed by Today’s Dietitian, fermented foods, including dairy foods like yogurt and kefir, were the number one superfood trend in 2019. But fermented foods are not new–they have been around for centuries! Whereas they were once believed to be used as a form of food preservation, many people are now choosing them for their health benefits.
If you have cheese, yogurt, or even cultured buttermilk in your refrigerator, you are already eating fermented foods. Fermented foods are created when tiny living organisms feed on an initial food like milk or sugar. Fermentation can change the taste and texture of the food, along with enhancing it in other ways, such as improving digestibility. For instance, most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate yogurt and kefir better than regular dairy foods because fermentation helps to break down the lactose.
Many fermented dairy foods have potential benefits that go beyond basic nutrition and you can thank the tiny living organisms for that added function. These living organisms can contribute beneficial bacteria to our digestive tracts and can even increase the amount of certain vitamins that we absorb from food. But that is not all! Fermented dairy contains compounds that are being investigated for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-hypertensive properties –which are important for preventing certain chronic diseases.
The best news is there are plenty of easy and delicious ways to incorporate beneficial fermented dairy foods into your daily routine. You can start your day with a fruity summer smoothie bowl made with kefir, use buttermilk in baked goods or marinades, and include yogurt in your overnight oats or in a savory dip in the afternoon. Include fermented dairy at your meals to get both the benefits of fermentation along with the powerful and delicious nutrient package!