Fermenting Ultimate Championship
We put a variety of storebought fermented foods into the ring (actually, the lab) to battle it out for the title of the most potent probiotic. When we fight here at CE, we fight for what truly matters.
We know fermented foods are good for us
— they contain beneficial bacteria that help support your microbiome, the collection of bacteria, yeast, viruses and fungi that live in your gut and on your skin. Your microbiome impacts your health fundamentally, affecting digestion, immunity, weight and mental health.
But, with all the fermented foods on the market claiming they contain live bacterial cultures, it’s hard to know which are worth the spend and which are worth a pass. This month, we stepped out of the kitchen and into the lab to test a variety of store-bought fermented foods — and we’re showing you how they measure up.
We reached out to Brendan Chapman, PhD, a professor in the department of Food Science Technology at Centennial College in Toronto. We tested six categories of store-bought products – kefir, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha — and three different brands of each. Thanks to Dr. Chapman and his assistants Rajwinder Gurm and Ruchi Sharma who tirelessly measured samples, labeled petri dishes and counted colonies for us, we were able to rate them from the most potent probiotic to the weakest in our very own Ultimate Fermenting Championship (the nutrition geeks’ UFC).
The winner? Kefir,
and by a long shot. It clocked in significantly higher than the rest with a whopping 27.7 billion CFU per 1 cup serving. Other heavyweights are yogurt and kimchi at 3.6 billion CFU per 1 cup serving and 2.6 billion CFU per ½ cup serving, respectively.
SAUERKRAUT KOMBUCHA MISO KEFIR 27.7 billion CFU per 1 cup serving YOGURT CFU = COLONY FORMING UNITS KIMCHI 2.6 billion CFU per 1∕2 cup serving 3.6 billion CFU per 1 cup serving 54.1 thousand CFU per 1 tbsp serving 195.2 million CFU per 1∕2 cup serving 23.1 million CFU per 1 cup serving
(Left) Dr. Chapman shows Executive Editor Andrea Gourgy how the probiotic mixtures are homogenized. (Right) Dr. Chapman places the mixtures into test tubes for analysis.