Fermented foods have long been produced according to knowledge passed down from generation to generation and with no understanding of the potential role of the microorganism(s) involved in the process. However, the scientific and technological revolution in Western countries made fermentation turn from a household to a controlled process suitable for industrial scale production systems intended for the mass marketplace. The aim of this paper is to provide an up-to-date review of the latest studies which investigated the health-promoting components forming upon fermentation of the main food matrices, in order to contribute to understanding their important role in healthy diets and relevance in national dietary recommendations worldwide. Formation of antioxidant, bioactive, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, and FODMAP-reducing components in fermented foods are mainly presented and discussed. Fermentation was found to increase antioxidant activity of milks, cereals, fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. Anti-hypertensive peptides are detected in fermented milk and cereals. Changes in vitamin content are mainly observed in fermented milk and fruits. Fermented milk and fruit juice were found to have probiotic activity. Other effects such as anti-diabetic properties, FODMAP reduction, and changes in fatty acid profile are peculiar of specific food categories.
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