Top 9 Low-Sugar Fermented Foods for Gut Health

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I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of Elizabeth Eats on YouTube. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life.


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Let’s talk about low-sugar fermented foods and why they are important to maintaining good gut health.

The fermentation process doesn’t just preserve food—it enhances its nutritional profile by fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, or probiotics, are crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Moreover, from a culinary perspective, fermented foods cut through rich and fatty flavors, balancing out your meals and making them more digestible.

Naturally, fermented foods contain a multitude of friendly bacteria (aka probiotics) that your body needs to thrive. They also add a wonderful, tangy flavor that can take a dish from just okay to “wowza, that’s good!” Add some kraut to your salads or mix some coconut yogurt (or Greek yogurt if you tolerate dairy) into your smoothies or overnight oats.

Top 9 Low-Sugar Fermented Foods

Here are nine fermented foods that are low in sugar but high in probiotic potential:

  1. Kimchi: This Korean delight, packed with fermented veggies, is a spicy powerhouse for your gut.
  2. Real Sauerkraut: Not the vinegar-soaked imposter, but the authentic lacto-fermented kind, bursting with healthy bacteria. It will be in the refrigerated section. Shelf-stable sauerkraut does not contain live active cultures. Learn how to make your own sauerkraut here.
  3. Real Fermented Pickles: Same as the sauerkraut, shelf-stable pickles do not contain live active cultures. Forget the shelf-stable vinegar types; true lacto-fermented pickles are where the probiotics thrive.
  4. Lactic Acid Fermented Veggies: Any veggies fermented through this process are tangy, tasty, and teeming with gut-friendly bacteria.
  5. Raw, Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar: A spoonful can add zest to salads and aid digestion.
  6. Kefir: Whether it’s coconut-based or traditional milk kefir, this fermented beverage is a probiotic powerhouse.
  7. Unsweetened Greek or Icelandic Yogurt: If dairy agrees with you, these yogurts are creamy, delicious, and beneficial for your belly.
  8. Homemade Coconut Yogurt: Dairy-free and delightful, this yogurt is simple to make and satisfyingly tangy (check out my two-ingredient coconut yogurt recipe here).
  9. Kombucha: This fermented tea may not be a probiotic hero, but a no-sugar-added version can be a refreshing choice in moderation.
  10. I’ll add a bonus #10: Any dairy or veggies that indicated it contains “live active cultures.” You can now find cottage cheese, sour cream, and other dairy and veggie products that contain live active cultures. Not all cottage cheese and other dairy items will have this, so I’m not giving them thier own line item here. But if you can find them, great!

Sorry, even though alcoholic beverages are fermented, they don’t count. The alcohol and acids used to ferment the drinks make it nearly impossible for good bacteria to thrive (bummer for us wine lovers, I know).

low-sugar fermented foods saurkraut kimchi yogurt

Vinegar vs Fermentation

When shopping for these fermented favorites, remember that the genuine articles will always be in the refrigerated section. Check the labels to ensure they’re genuinely fermented, not just soaked in vinegar. Fermented foods should have a naturally tangy taste, indicative of the probiotics within.

Real fermented pickles are tangy because of the lacto-fermentation, not simply from being soaked in vinegar like pickles that you find on the shelves of grocery stores. Fermented pickles are making a comeback, which is good news for your gut health—give them a try and enjoy the flavor along with the natural probiotics. Remember, you can find them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store with the other fermented products.

The simple act of adding some sauerkraut to your salad or blending coconut yogurt into your smoothie can make a world of difference to your gut health. And for those of us who grew up on a diet of convenience, making these foods at home can be a revolutionary act of love—for our bodies and our taste buds.

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Hi, I'm Elizabeth

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