The 3 Best Vegetables to Ferment For Optimal Gut Health

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Guest Post by: Adrian Volenik

Although fermentation seems like the latest craze, it’s actually been with us for thousands of years. And for a good reason too. Here are just some benefits of eating fermented foods:

  • Boosts your mood and brainpower
  • Increases your immunity
  • Helps with digestion

If a meal or food that I’m eating can help me with just one of these things, I’d call it a superfood, let alone with all of them. But what exactly is fermentation and why are people rediscovering it now? I think of modern folks like we’re Columbo, discovering already known places over and over.

What Is Fermentation?

Fermentation is a metabolic process that makes bacteria and yeast break down sugars. They basically suck out energy from carbs when there’s no oxygen available (ie. in a jar) and make a desirable change to the food or drink that we’re fermenting.

So, fermenting not only preserves the food for a longer period of time but it changes the taste of it and develops loads of new bacteria in your gut when we eat the food.

I’ve recently read a great analogy about the bacteria in our gut – they’re like pets living inside us and we’ve got to feed them! Isn’t that funny (or creepy – tell me in the comments!).

All three of them are super convenient and they are super easy to ferment at home or buy in a health store. You might be even eating some of them, fermented or not. I didn’t include the super-obvious ones like pickles that may or may not be fermented, depending on the process, as they’re probably in your fridge already.

best vegetables to ferment- cabbage

1. Cabbage

Cabbage is arguably the most widely utilized veggie for fermentation. There are two types of fermented cabbage – sauerkraut and kimchi. Both are excellent for your gut health. Cabbage contains plenty of fiber, vitamins C and K, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin that promote eye health.

Let’s talk some specifics now about sauerkraut and kimchi.

sauerkraut- 3 best vegetables to ferment


Making fermented cabbage in the form of sauerkraut is super easy as it contains only two ingredients – green cabbage and salt. What did I tell you? You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to prepare this staple of German, eastern European countries, and baseball cuisine.

You can use sauerkraut in plenty of dishes; from sandwiches to hearty soups. It goes well with meat, and potatoes and does wonders for hangovers.

Another fun fact? Those 17th century explorers would always have cabbage on board their ships to help prevent scurvy!

Here’s an easy recipe:

best veggies to ferment
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5 from 2 votes

Simple Fermented Cabbage

Ferment your own cabbage with this quick and easy recipe
Course Side Dish
Keyword fermented cabbage
Prep Time 10 minutes


  • 4.4 oz Cabbage
  • 2 oz Salt


  • Cut up or shred your cabbage and put it in a bowl
  • Add 2 % salt to it, more or less depending on size
  • Knead the cabbage with your hands
  • Transfer to a mason jar and add the cabbage and salt liquid
  • Cover with a plastic wrap or the outer leaves of your cabbage. You can use a string to tie it to the rim
  • Label it and leave at room temperature for a couple weeks
kimchie- cabbage is the best veggie to ferment


Kimchi is a popular Korean dish that can be made from other veggies apart from cabbage. But usually, it’s napa cabbage and daikon radishes that are added to the cabbage. Kimchi is great for lowering your cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance.

If you haven’t tried this excellent food yet, you need to know that it’s much spicier than sauerkraut which has more tartness to it. There are quite a few more ingredients necessary for kimchi and a few more steps required than making sauerkraut so I won’t share it here. There’s plenty of recipes and videos on how to make kimchi.

Making kimchi is also not complicated and anyone is more than capable to do it. If you like spicy food, kimchi is the way to go as it has much more punch to it than the sour cabbage aka sauerkraut.

I like to make and eat both, just because I like to have variety on my menu.

2. Carrots

This one might surprise you! Although we all know that there are a lot of benefits to eating carrots (yes mom, I’m actually eating them now!), fermented carrots are not that popular, I believe. And, that is a shame, so let’s try and rectify that as they can really give a good punch to the gut. Share this post on your social media if you’re a carrot lover!

Fermenting carrots makes raw carrots even better. It’s like if Superman and Wonder Woman had a baby. They’re now easier to digest, safer to eat (no E. coli), and have loads of probiotics, vitamins, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

There’s a couple of ways you can ferment carrots. Here are three:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Spicy carrot salad
  • Carrot kraut

Here’s a video that explains in laymen’s terms how to make all three of them

3. Beets

Beets probably originate from the Mediterranean, where they were cultivated for their leaves aka the stuff you throw away in the bin. They are a popular and versatile root vegetable that has many health benefits. But because of the power of fermentation, beets are even more beneficial in improving your blood pressure.

They are also high in nitrates that the body converts to nitric oxide. You can read more about that in my post about the positive nitric oxide boost. Another plus for fermented beets is that they can boost your sports performance and endurance as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.

Fermenting beetroots is easy. All you need is 2,2 lb of beetroots, 2-4 cloves of garlic, 6 peppercorns, and 1-2 bay leaves.

You can ferment almost everything and the best thing – it’s easy, healthy, and can improve your gut health. You can experiment to find what works best for you. Apart from the veggies on my list, you can ferment veggies like broccoli, peppers, green beans, and cauliflower, make drinks like kefir (from milkor water), kombucha tea, ginger ale, pear cider, probiotic lemonade, and so on and so on. You get it.

I hope this post has made you think twice about fermented foods and drinks and that you might even venture out and make something from scratch by yourself. In that case, here’s to you *drinks kombucha*.

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  1. This is one great post. And very nicely explained. I love eating fermented vegetables. In my country it is a traditional dish, since it has been prepared for a long time, I think it is hundreds of years old and we call it “Zimnica” (winter canning). I especially like sauerkraut. There are many other delicious dishes of this kind, such as: gherkins (Pickled cucumber), onion peppers, sour green tomatoes … All in all, finally someone to write about this topic. Go ahead and all the best in further work.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I will have to learn more about “Zimnica.” I look forward to it!

    2. 5 stars
      Let me start by saying I absolutely love vegetables. I also enjoy cooking for people. When I do, I tend to cater their likes, which is rarely vegetables. So I do not currently have enough
      In my diet. I’ve never considered fermenting vegetables until I came across this article. It’s exciting and a break from the norm. With the upside of being positive for my gut. It has also reminded me that I enjoy kimchi. I appreciate this article and I’ve definitely been inspired to try some fermented veggies 🙂

      1. I enjoy kimchi too!! I love seeing what other foods can be fermented and taste good! Try some of these out and let me know which ones you like!

  2. Hi Adrian,

    I love the idea of having “pets” in our guts-the bacteria that help us break down our food. Indeed this type of relationship should be treated with care too. We should regularly improve our gut health by feeding on fermented veggies as you’ve comprehensively covered in the article. Who doesn’t want mood and brainpower elevated for a healthier living?

    Thank you for sharing this article. I will share it with my friends

    All the best,


  3. Fermented vegetables are very good for gut health, and we should all be eating it on occasion. I have never been very keen on cabbage, and although I know that sauerkraut and kimchi is good for me, the smell does put me off eating it. Is there anything one can do to improve the smell?

    I prefer kombucha and have made it in the past. I didn’t know that I could ferment carrots, so will definitely give it a try. 

    1. I’m not sure there is much you can do about the smell, but if you’re not keen on cabbage anyway, I would suggest trying the carrots and some other fermented foods! No sense in trying to make yourself eat something you won’t enjoy! There’s plenty of other delicious foods you might find you like 🙂

      I’m not actually a fan of cabbage either, you will not see me eating anything cabbage related! 

  4. Thank you so much,Jordy, for this excellently written article. I love Sauerkraut, to make my own, it is simply wonderful. I was amazed about the health benefits, of fermented foods. I think also science researched the health benefits of new bacteria in your gut. I sure gonna take this into my daily diet. Thank you so much. 


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