Usually, if someone’s got a craving for pickles, they really want them. And it’s not just because the salty-sour flavor is so addictive. In fact, scientists have proven that there are many reasons behind pickles’ appeal.
For instance, pickles are just one of a few unusual foods that boasts serious health benefits. If incorporated into your regular diet, there’s evidence to suggest that fermented foods can do some surprising things for your body. Here are nine pickled foods that you’ll want to start eating right away…
1. Pickles: Researchers have concluded that consuming fermented foods like dill pickles can help improve your mood. They do this primarily by boosting serotonin levels while simultaneously increasing the level of probiotics that live in your gut.
It’s pretty easy to make your own pickles at home, too. Simply wash and slice the blossom end of your ripe, firm cucumbers—Kirby works best—and pack into a sterilized jar along with smashed garlic cloves and dill seed. To make your pickling brine, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil, then pour over the pickles. Seal the jars, refrigerate, and you’re done!
2. Natto (fermented soybean paste): This fermented soybean paste has proven to be especially rich in vitamin K2. Researchers say that this rare vitamin has been shown to reduce the menopausal bone loss that many women encounter.
Natto is also extremely high in pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), which soothes tissue and repairs damaged skin, giving you an overall youthful glow. It might not smell great, but would you really care if it made your skin look flawless?
3. Kimchee (fermented cabbage): This fermented combination of cabbage, chili peppers, garlic, scallions, and several other spices is most commonly consumed throughout Korea. It is most rich in vitamins A and C.
When the cabbage is fermented, it also becomes extremely high in lactobacilli bacteria, which is an efficient gut-boosting bacteria. If you like eating spicy food, it doesn’t get much better than this stuff!
4. Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is perhaps best known for being extremely high in dietary fiber. Like kimchee, it’s also high in Vitamins A, C, K, and a number of essential B vitamins. Get ready to chow down!
Sauerkraut is also a fantastic source of calcium, manganese, iron, sodium, copper, and even protein! If you’re not sure what to serve it up with, why not try a nice pastrami sandwich? Hot dogs work well, too. Or you can just eat it alone!
5. Fermented vegetables: Fermented vegetables in general are extremely high in probiotics. Research has suggested that probiotics are able to help slow and, in rare cases, completely reverse some common diseases in people.
Additionally, drinking fermented vegetable juice on a regular basis has other helpful properties as well. It can improve overall bowel health, aid in digestion, and even improve your immune system.
6. Miso (fermented chickpea or soybean paste): Miso is one of those foods that you don’t often think too much about when it comes to health, but you should! This fermented chickpea or soybean paste actually offers major health benefits…
Some of these benefits include providing several sources of probiotics, helping to improve overall digestion, and lowering blood pressure. Not only is miso rich in copper, manganese, and vitamin K, but the natural enzymes in miso paste have been said to fight cancer.
7. Tempeh: Not only is tempeh extremely high in essential probiotics, but it also works to reduce high levels of cholesterol. Like the other foods on this list, it might look a little funky, but stick with it—there’s good reason to make this part of your diet!
Tempeh may reduce menopausal symptoms in aging women and aid in increasing bone density when consumed regularly. It also contains a whopping dose of manganese, which is great for boosting bone health, too!
8. Apple cider vinegar-fermented drinks: Apple cider vinegar is already powerful on its own—you can pour a little bit on your salad or mix it with water and honey for a healthy drink.
Not only can fermented drinks containing apple cider vinegar—like switchel—lower your blood pressure and cholesterol as well as help you lose weight, but research indicates that it’s highly effective in treating diabetes, too.
9. Kefir: Over the past few years, kefir has enjoyed a rise in popularity due to all the great stuff it can do for your body. Kefir is usually made by adding a kefir culture (an active bacteria) to milk.
If you don’t eat dairy, kefir can be made or bought using coconut milk, too, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on all those probiotics working hard to keep your guts healthy. This makes it one of the more versatile ways to ingest probiotics.
Pickled and fermented food filled with lactic acid and bacteria may not sound like something you want to eat eagerly, but don’t be fooled by the science! You’ve probably been eating some of these foods your whole life—and studies prove that you should try eating more!
Nutritionist Barbara Mendez explains how the probiotics in these fermented foods can help raise serotonin levels in the brain as well as improve mood to fight depression and anxiety. That’s something we could all benefit from!
If pickle are your kind of snack, this is great news! The rest of us might want to develop a taste for pickled and fermented foods for the sake of our own health.
Share these health benefits with your friends below!