Fermented foods and beverages were among the first processed food products consumed by humans. The production of foods such as yogurt and cultured milk, wine and beer, sauerkraut and kimchi, and fermented sausage were initially valued because of their improved shelf life, safety, and organoleptic properties. It is increasingly understood that fermented foods can also have enhanced nutritional and functional properties due to transformation of substrates and formation of bioactive or bioavailable end-products. Many fermented foods also contain living microorganisms of which some are genetically similar to strains used as probiotics. Although only a limited number of clinical studies on fermented foods have been performed, there is evidence that these foods provide health benefits well-beyond the starting food materials.
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