Consuming fermented foods has been reported to result in improvements in a range of health parameters. These positive effects can be exerted by a combination of the live microorganisms that the fermented foods contain, as well as the bioactive components released into the foods as by-products of the fermentation process. In many instances, and particularly in dairy fermented foods, the microorganisms involved in the fermentation process belong to the lactic acid group of bacteria (LAB). An alternative approach to making some of the health benefits that have been attributed to fermented foods available is through the production of ‘fermentates’. The term ‘fermentate’ generally relates to a powdered preparation, derived from a fermented product and which can contain the fermenting microorganisms, components of these microorganisms, culture supernatants, fermented substrates, and a range of metabolites and bioactive components with potential health benefits. Here, we provide a brief overview of a selection of in vitro and in vivo studies and patents exclusively reporting the health benefits of LAB ‘fermentates’. Typically, in such studies, the potential health benefits have been attributed to the bioactive metabolites present in the crude fermentates and/or culture supernatants rather than the direct effects of the LAB strain(s) involved.
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