Cultured Food: What's Hype & What's Real?

  • Topic Info:What exactly is "cultured" food? Does it refer to the food you eat at a fancy restaurant where there are seven courses and just as many forks to get through the meal?

    Not exactly...

    Cultured food is a relatively new term to help move forward the concept of fermented food. The word "fermented" often gets a bad rap; one, because people think it sounds yucky or moldy, and two, because it can also refer to alcohol.

    The term cultured, on the other hand, is a bit more comprehensive in what these foods (and food supplements) can actually do for you in terms of your health. Specifically, these foods are more gentle on your digestive system (and therefore your body as a whole), because they have the good bacteria your body needs or they use good bacteria to create a nutrient complex which ultimately provides you with better nutrition. This is one of the reasons why cultured foods are a great addition to a probiotic regimen.

    And, if you look at the healthiest cities around the world, they eat cultured foods on a regular, consistent basis.

    These foods can include cultured dairy products, like kefir, or cultured soy products like tempeh. Cultured vegetables are becoming more popular in North America and branching out beyond just sauerkraut to things like kimchi. Some people are even creating these cultured foods in their own homes, including fruits.

    Unfortunately, along with the popularity of these cultured foods, you're bound to get some foods that are not quite as good for you... particularly because they contain a lot of sugar or salt.

    For instance, kombucha (a fermented tea drink) can be a great option for a cultured food, especially if you're looking to replace your need for a soda during the day. But, it's important to pay attention to the serving size so that you're not overloading on sugar and calories.

    Also, kombucha may not be the best cultured option for people with sugar-related digestive issues or who feel bloated and gassy, simply because of the bubbly-ness of the drink.

    Listen in as registered dietician, Ashley Koff, joins Andrea and Lisa to share more about what cultured foods are and how they can benefit your health.
  • Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH