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Fermented Foods & its Health Benefits

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Often while preparing the Idli or Dosa batter, your mom would be telling you to rest the batter overnight to ferment. A novice in cooking would obviously think what is fermentation? Why fermentation and what is the benefit of fermenting the food? Quite a lot of questions would surely arise.


So, now let me clear this out and give you a brief note on fermentation, what are the fermented foods and its health benefits. Typically, in food processing, fermentation is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions.


In simple terms, it is the chemical conversion of sugar into ethanol which is also known as zymology in the science of fermentation. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and various strains of probiotics.


Fermented foods originated many thousands of years ago when presumably micro-organism contaminated local foods. Numerous food products owe their production and characteristics to the fermentative activities of microorganisms. The principle of preservation is to hinder (delay) the growth of food spoilage microorganisms.

Some of the fermented foods include:

Beverages: Beer, Wine, Sake, Cider and Spirits Dairy products: Cheese, Yogurt, Kefir, Kurut, Sour cream, Buttermilk Cereals: Dosa, Idli, Adai, Vada (made with cereals & legumes), Breads, Rolls Meat and fish: Fish sauce, Country Ham, Salami, Pepperoni pickled meat Fruits and vegetables: Pickled fruits & vegetables, Olives, Sauerkraut

Advantages of Fermentation:

  • Preservation of substantial amounts of food through lactic acid, alcohol, acetic acid and alkaline fermentations.
  • Enrichment of the diet through development of a diversity of aromas, textures and flavors in food substrates.
  • Biological enrichment of food substrates with protein, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and vitamins.
  • Elimination of antinutrients.
  • A decrease in cooking time and fuel requirement.

Health Benefits of Fermentation:

  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Cholesterol control
  • Anti-Cancer effects
  • Energy
  • Immunity
  • Longevity
  • Protection from rotavirus diarrhea
  • Prevention of inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Anti-hypertensive effect
  • Anti-diabetic effect

Studies have shown that some fermented foods are said to have definite health benefits although the scientific evidences for this is limited. Reports suggested that fermented milk products such as yogurt can reduce serum cholesterol levels and help avoid cancers particularly those associated with colon.


Some fermented foods are most easily digested than the original raw material. People who cannot digest lacose properly can often consume some types of fermented dairy products. The fermentation process may also remove toxic chemicals present in the raw material.


Do add in at least one fermented food in your daily diet which will help ensure that you are getting the benefits from a wide variety of probiotic sources as each has its own benefits. VahChef Sanjay Thumma Do look out for your favorite and many more yummy, appetizing and exotic recipes at:

Enjoy cooking and eating healthy foods to stay hale and hearty. Always remember that: VahrehVah is all about inspiring others to cook”!

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