Fermented beverages hold a long tradition and contribution to the nutrition of many societies and cultures worldwide. Traditional fermentation has been empirically developed in ancient times as a process of raw food preservation and at the same time production of new foods with different sensorial characteristics, such as texture, flavour and aroma, as well as nutritional value. Low-alcoholic fermented beverages (LAFB) and non-alcoholic fermented beverages (NAFB) represent a subgroup of fermented beverages that have received rather little attention by consumers and scientists alike, especially with regard to their types and traditional uses in European societies. A literature review was undertaken and research articles, review papers and textbooks were searched in order to retrieve data regarding the dietary role, nutrient composition, health benefits and other relevant aspects of diverse ethnic LAFB and NAFB consumed by European populations. A variety of traditional LAFB and NAFB consumed in European regions, such as kefir, kvass, kombucha and hardaliye, are presented. Milk-based LAFB and NAFB are also available on the market, often characterised as 'functional' foods on the basis of their probiotic culture content. Future research should focus on elucidating the dietary role and nutritional value of traditional and 'functional' LAFB and NAFB, their potential health benefits and consumption trends in European countries. Such data will allow for LAFB and NAFB to be included in national food composition tables.
Keywords: LAB lactic acid bacteria; LAFB low-alcoholic fermented beverage; NAFB non-alcoholic fermented beverage; Dairy products; Europe; Fermented beverages; Local foods; Low-alcoholic beverages; Non-alcoholic beverages.