Probiotic rich foods are very popular among health food buffs, but have you added them to your diet?
Most adults experience a decline in these beneficial bacteria as they age, and everything from obesity to diet and use of antibiotics can also cause these bacteria to die off. That’s why it’s important to supplement our diets with probiotic rich foods – they aid in digestion, can provide a boost to the immune system, and even help with weight management.
So where can you find probiotics? Though some prefer to get their probiotics in pill form, many focus on foods like yogurt when looking to supplement their diet – but yogurt can get boring pretty fast. Luckily, there are dozens of other foods rich in these healthy bacteria, most of which are much more flavorful than those endless cups of yogurt. Instead, consider these four unusual sources of probiotics. You’ll be thankful for the added variety and punch of flavor in these high impact foods.
1. Poi’s Powerful Properties
You’re unlikely to encounter poi anywhere outside the Hawaiian Islands, in part because there aren’t reliable ways to mass produce the food, but in Hawaii you’ll find poi available everywhere. Made from the cooked taro plant, poi varies in consistency between liquid and a thick, doughy paste, and is usually eaten with the fingers. But what really makes poi so great is that it has more probiotic bacteria than the much-touted yogurt.
If you want to get a taste of poi, you’ll likely have to make it yourself, but luckily, taro itself is widely available in supermarkets. From there, though, you’ll have to master the cooking and fermenting process. In terms of your health, it will be well worth the effort.
2. Say “Kimchi”
Did you know that in Korea, many say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when taking a photo? While linguistic differences may be at play, the primary reason seems to have more to do with the venerated place of kimchi in the Korean diet.
So what is kimchi? Kimchi is a kind of fermented cabbage product that tastes something like a spicy pickle due to the inclusion of vinegar, chili peppers, and other spices in the fermenting liquid. Not only is it a great source of the probiotic lactobacilli, but kimchi can also reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce the likelihood of stomach cancer. It really is a powerhouse of a food, and a delicious side dish at that. And if you want to add a twist, a few breweries are also experimenting with kimchi beer.
3. A Taste Of Fermented Bean Curd
Tofu took the health food world by storm many years ago, but few people outside of Asia pay attention to the incredible flavor and healthy qualities of fermented bean curd. Known alternatively as su fu or dou fu ru, the process starts by adding bacteria and mold to the tofu and then adding it to a mix of tofu, soy paste, rice wine, salt, and spices.
It only takes a little bit of fermented bean curd to benefit from its probiotic qualities, which is why most eat it as a seasoning component in other dishes in place of salt, or as an added taste in simple porridges. This spicy, creamy version of tofu is a treat, but perhaps an acquired taste.
4. Cool Cultured Kefir
Although kefir is also dairy-based like yogurt, it’s a much more complex food, and has a more liquid-like consistency. Though it uses a similar process to yogurt, combining milk with bacterial yeast, kefir also contains something known as kefir grains that blend sugar, proteins, and fats with the bacteria. Adding a glass of kefir to your diet is a great way to get the nutritional punch of yogurt with an added tang.
Next time you’re looking for a nutritional pick-me-up with digestive benefits, consider grabbing a jar of kimchi or tossing some fermented bean curd into your next batch of quinoa. Spicy, sour, and full of probiotic bacteria, you’ll have a taste sensation on your hands and a nutrient-packed meal in your stomach.