Which Probiotic Foods Are Salt Free & Sugar Free?

plain yogurt bowl
Many commercial yogurts have added sweeteners. (Image: daniaphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Recently, probiotics have become popular in the mainstream due to their ability to calm digestive ailments and disturbances. Probiotics have actually existed for a long time, and foods that contain them have been staples of many cultures' diets. Unfortunately, many probiotics on the market now contain added salt or sugar, which can wreck even more havoc on the body. Traditional probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt can be purchased without additional salt or sugar added, but it takes a keen eye to identify brands that do not include these additives. When all else fails, each of these probiotic foods can be made at home relatively easily.

Salt-free Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a powerful probiotic food which, according to Tonya Zavasta, author of "Beautiful on Raw Uncooked Creations," contains a high concentration of lactic acid to support the digestive process. Although many traditional sauerkrauts contain added salt, there are salt-free versions of this probiotic food available on the market. One brand that has no salt is Rejuvanative Foods. Or, sauerkraut can be made at home without salt, as a recipe in "Mother Earth News" instructs.

Kefir

Kefir is a dairy-based probiotic, with a similar consistency to yogurt, that can be purchased without added sugar. Lifeway Kefir makes a plain kefir called "Slim 6" that is sugar-free, but is sweetened with Splenda, an artificial sweetener. A sugar-free brand of kefir found in the U.K. is called Nourish Kefir. Or sugar-free kefir starter can be purchased from places such as Wilderness Family Naturals and be made at home.

All dairy contains lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar. But the fermentation process of both kefir and yogurt "digests" these sugars so that the product can be considered sugar-free, as long as no sugars are added.

Homemade Sugar-Free Yogurt

Most commercial yogurts unfortunately contain high amounts of sugar. Luckily, yogurt can easily be made at home without sugar. The book, "Wild Fermantation" by Sandor Ellix Katz, recommends purchasing yogurt starter, whole milk, a large jar, a thermometer and an insulated cooler. Preheat the jar and cooler to allow fermentation, then heat the milk to 180 degrees, stirring to a gentle boil. Cool the milk to 110 degrees, and then mix in one tbsp. of the yogurt starter per quart of milk, pouring the mixture into the preheated jar. Place the jar in the heated cooler and let it sit for eight to 12 hours.

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