2019 has arrived. And with it the usual resolutions to be happier, get fitter and eat healthier. Indeed, jumping on the wellness bandwagon is often the first thing we all contemplate as we enter any new year. Rich foods, countless parties and crazy schedules have left us stuffed and tired, ready for the latest diet or lifestyle change that promises us trim figures, healthy bodies and focused minds. But wading through all the fads to find the one legitimate thing that is truly good for us is hard. The answer, unfortunately, is that to make the right decision, we have to do our homework. There is no quick solution. Just like we would consult an eb1 lawyer about an immigration matter, we must similarly look for good resources about the diets and programs and products that promise to make us better before we jump on board one of them. It takes time to research each and every issue. But there’s no time like the present to start. We can help with one question you might have encountered: which should I eat to be healthier, fermented foods or pickled foods?
To answer this question, you have to understand the difference between fermentation and pickling. Both fermentation and pickling have been used to preserve food for thousands of years. Fermentation is an anaerobic chemical process wherein bacteria break down nutrients into other substances (like carbon dioxide, acids and alcohol) that preserve and add flavor to the food. Yogurt, sauerkraut, beer, yeast-leavened breads, kimchi, miso and even Tabasco sauce are all fermented products.
Pickling is also a food preservation method. A pickled food can either be fermented in a salt solution (utilizing good bacteria like those foods mentioned above to complete the process) or immersed in vinegar. Meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables can all be pickled.
The Confusing Part
Because some types of pickles can be brined in a salt solution, some are considered to be fermented, as well. Think of traditional dill pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. However, not all fermented foods are pickled. Think of beer, yogurt and sourdough bread, for example.
The Long Story Short
Fermented foods (including foods pickled in a brine and not a vinegar solution) are healthier because they contain living organisms (probiotics) as a natural result of the fermentation process. When ingested, these probiotics can help balance the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut, thereby regulating our digestive tracts, boosting our immune systems and improving our overall health! Regular jarred pickles and other similarly pickled products just don’t pack the same healthy punch. So grab some sauerkraut or a cup of yogurt and start your 2019 off right!