Probiotics 101: Not All Fermented Foods Are Created Equal

February 28, 2018

Probiotics 101: Not All Fermented Foods Are Created Equal

Your shoppers have probably heard that probiotics can help improve overall health and digestion, but do they know where to find this good bacteria? Here's your quick guide.

Fermented foods are all the rage now, and the fact of the matter is that many of these "good bacteria" foods have been around for centuries. But it's important to know that not all fermented foods are created equal, and many of your shoppers may not know the difference. Let's start with an explanation of what that secret ingredient that makes them so good for your gut: probiotics. 

What are Probiotics? Probiotics are living organisms, commonly live “good” bacteria or yeast that when consumed may help the immune system and help regulate digestion. 

Probiotics can be found in refrigerated dairy products section and include products such as yogurts, kefirs, some cottage cheese, other fermented beverages such as kombucha and more. Kefir is a liquid beverage; yogurt has thick, creamy consistency of pudding, kombucha is a naturally effervescent beverage and flavors vary. Probiotics are also available as nutritional supplements. And refrigerated sauerkraut and pickles are also rich in beneficial bacteria (when unpasteurized).

Here's what your shoppers need to look for on the label:  Look for “Live Active Culture,” on the product seal that guarantees at least 108 viable (live) lactic acid bacteria per gram in refrigerated products and 107 for frozen. Check for the expiration date; the older the product the less live cultures. Most brands will name the bacterium and health benefit. Buy right before leaving the supermarket and store in cool area of car. Check for bacteria names such as: Bifidobacterium or Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, and Lactobacillus.

Help your shoppers get the full benefits of these healthy foods by offering guidance in what to look for on labels. Also, for those that aren't looking to make a meal out of fermented foods, there are loads of products today's supermarkets that can be used just as condiments in  that contain probiotics. Adding some pickles, sauerkraut, pickled beets or yogurt dips to a meal can be meaningful to those looking to improve their gut health.