In the days of COVID-19, keeping our immune system strong and on-guard is key. In addition to your regular healthy foods, vitamins, and supplements, probiotics are also incredibly important.
Probiotics are super healthy and have some amazing benefits that make them must-try foods. They can help boost bone health, heart health, improve digestion, and reduce depression among others. Although you can get probiotics from supplements, the best way to consume them is from fermented foods, and there are many types to choose from. Below are some of our favorite probiotic foods we think you should try.
To begin with, kefir is a super tasty probiotic food, and it is a great family-friendly fermented milk beverage. Kefir is easy to make at home by just adding kefir grains to goats or cow’s milk. Additionally, you can add the grains to coconut oil, fruit juices, or you can add fresh fruit to spice it up. The grains are different from cereal grains. Since they are cultures of lactic acid bacteria yeast, they kind of look like cauliflower. Kefir helps people with bone issues, digestive problems, and helps protect against infections. Kefir looks exactly like yogurt, but the consistency is that of milk. It is a better source of probiotics in comparison to yogurt. Many people love it as it is a diverse and potent probiotic due to the many strains of friendly yeast and bacteria. Therefore, lactose-intolerant people can enjoy Kefir just as they consume yogurt.
This is a common side dish in Korea, and it’s spicy and fermented. The main ingredient for this is cabbage, but other vegetables can be used as well. To season it properly, kimchi is flavored with garlic, ginger, red chili pepper, salt, and scallion. Just like many probiotic foods, it contains lactic acid bacteria that are beneficial to our digestive system. When made from cabbage it is high in vitamin K, vitamin B2, and iron. You can easily find out how to make kimchi at home and enjoy this easy to make affordable probiotic. You can also check out some venues in NYC like this Kimchi place.
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Yogurt is probably the most popular probiotic food on the planet. It, too, has friendly bacteria that help improve our health, according to Healthline. Yogurt can be bought from almost any store or you can make it at home. Milk that has gone through fermentation with friendly bacteria such as lactic acid is best to make yogurt. Just like Kefir, Yogurt is also good for people with lactose intolerance. Greek yogurt for example, contains only 4 grams of lactose per 6-ounce container. This officially makes Greek yogurt a lower lactose food.
This super tea is very popular in Asia. Kombucha is a fermented, slightly alcoholic, sweetened green or black tea beverage that you can get in numerous places in NYC, online, or you can make it at home. The benefits of kombucha are similar to those of green tea. Additionally, it’s a great antioxidant as it is rich in acetic acid and polyphenols that help suppress the growth of unwanted yeasts and bacteria.
5. Some Cheeses
Most cheeses are fermented but not all contain probiotics. Hence, when you shop for your cheese look through the food labels to find the one with active and live cultures. Cheese is a great source of protein and also very nutritious. Also, it’s rich in selenium, calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. However, always consume in moderation to prevent increased risks of osteoporosis, high cholesterol or heart issues. Some of the cheeses that contain probiotics (where the good bacteria survive the aging process) are Cheddar, Mozzarella, cottage, and Gouda.
6. Pickled Cucumbers
Known also as Gherkins, these are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of water and salt. Through this process, they are left to ferment for a few days, which makes them sour at the end. This makes pickled cucumbers a healthy probiotic food that helps boost our digestive system. Pickles are a great source of vitamin K, making them essential to aid with blood clotting. Plus, people love them as they are low in calories as well. It’s important to note that pickled cucumbers are high in sodium, and those that are made with vinegar do not have live probiotics.
7. Traditional Buttermilk
There are basically two types of buttermilk that people consume. There’s the cultured buttermilk and the traditional buttermilk, which is also known as Grandma’s probiotic. This tasty probiotic drink is actually a leftover milk from the process of making butter. Only this one has probiotics, while the others have none. It’s a very popular drink in Pakistan, India, and Nepal. Unfortunately the cultured buttermilk is more common in America, but lacks the probiotic benefits. Not only is the traditional buttermilk low in calories and fats, and high in probiotics, but it contains minerals and vitamins as well.
In summary, probiotics are amazing foods that are incredibly healthy for us, especially in times like this, when we need to strengthen our immune system. Aside from the list above, there are more foods like Tempeh, Miso, Sauerkraut, and Natto among others, which contain probiotics.
Stay healthy and safe!