Go with your gut: Why fermented foods could be next superfood trend

WASHINGTON — The phrase “go with your gut” isn’t just sage advice for making a tough decision. It could also help guide your purchase during your next trip to the supermarket.

Fermented foods — a category that encompasses everything from yogurt to the pickled-veggie dish kimchee — have been cited as the No. 1 superfood of the year, according to a survey of more than 2,000 registered dietitians.

“They’re getting a lot of attention lately because they contain healthy bacteria, which is something that we want for our microbiome — basically our gut,” said Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog during an interview on WTOP. “It helps make us healthier.”

Other examples of fermented food include:

  • Kefir, a fermented milk drink.
  • Kombucha, a fermented black or green tea.
  • Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans.
  • Tempeh, a fermented soy food frequently used as a meat replacement.

While fermented foods are getting more buzz now, they’ve been around for thousands of years.

“We’ve only had refrigeration for a very short amount of our time,” Squires said. “So, basically, fermentation was designed to help extend what we now call the shelf life of foods. Nomads used to carry these sheepskin bags and they put milk and they put grains in it and they’d ride around through the desert, and voilà — you’d have yogurt.

“In ancient Rome, chefs used to dry and ferment smoked meats that would preserve through the winter, and it’d be available to eat. And in Asia, the fermentation preserved crops, like cabbage, which we now know as kimchee.”

Cutting-edge chefs are using fermented foods in new ways, experimenting with fermented salsas and other dishes. Watsonville, California-based Farmhouse Culture produces probiotic chips and fermented vegetables, such as daikon radishes and jalapeños.

The magazine Food and Nutrition, which is published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has also recently identified several new food trends, Squires said.

Some of the new food trends include:

  • Low-fat salami, known as Skinny Salami, which comes in flavors such as Black Angus beef and spicy pork chorizo.
  • Spiralized veggies, such as zucchini or squash, that are basically turned into noodle form.
  • Arctic Zero ice cream, which has about half the calories per serving of regular ice cream and also contains probiotic fiber.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up