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The Joy of Pickling

If you haven’t started pickling yet, it’s time to hop on the hipster bandwagon and get out the mason jars. Sure, it involves turning on the stove during the summer, but the payoff — both in flavor and health benefits — is worth it.

The healthiest kinds of pickled foods are those that are technically lacto-fermented, which  means that they’re made with just vegetables, salt, water and time. The process yields lactic acid — a probiotic bacteria that prevents bad bacteria from spoiling the food. It has multiple benefits for your health that could include:

  • Promoting the growth of digestion-friendly bacteria
  • Lowering risk of immune-mediated health conditions, such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and atopic dermatitis
  • Improving mental health (There’s growing research about the link between gut health and mental health; since lactic acid and other probiotics improve intestinal health, researchers say there’s a possibility that probiotics and other foods can help mitigate depression.)
  • Helping break down phytic acid — a component of some foods that keeps minerals from getting absorbed in the intestine
  • Reducing lactose intolerance

Lots of vegetables can be lacto-fermented, including cabbage, beets, cucumbers, onions and carrots. It’s really a matter of learning the technique first. Get started with one of these tutorials:

How to Make Kimchi

How to Make Sauerkraut

Source: Patrick, O.M. Lactic Acid Bacteria in Human Health and Disease. Rwanda Journal of Health Sciences (2012), Vol.1, Issue 1

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