25 Foods High in Lactic Acid

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Lactic acid is the byproduct of a metabolic pathway that converts carbohydrates into energy in our bodies when oxygen levels are low. However, in foods lactic acid can occur as a result of a natural fermentation in charge of special types of bacteria. Fermented foods contain lactic acid, and even though many of them are widely known, others are not yet fully categorized. Sometimes, lactic acid is added to foods in the form of preservatives, pH regulators or flavoring agents, especially in the case of some candies, fruit gums, and preserved foods

Lactic acid bacteria and naturally fermented foods have been linked to many healthy properties. Most of them are probiotics and improve the gut microbiota, which is the normally occurring bacteria in our intestines. These healthy bacteria avoid colonization of dangerous microorganisms that would otherwise find an open field for infection. As such, lactic acid bacteria are used to counter the effects of diarrhea, and to improve gastrointestinal function. New studies are showing that gut microbiota may be related to many other diseases such as skin diseases and even obesity. These are 25 fermented foods and beverages from all over the world, and others that has been processed with lactic acid:

  1. Sordough
    It is a carbohydrate-based product fermented with lactic acid bacteria or yeast. Sordough bread is produced with 13 different types of sour dough bacteria, and it is an ancient practice that goes back to the ancient Egyptian time.
     
  2. Cheese
    There are different types of cheese that are fermented with lactic acid bacteria. They are responsible for the flavor of many varieties of cheese, such as Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, American and blue cheese.
     
  3. Fermented meats
    Lactic acid comes with a variety of fermented meats such as salami, dry-cured hams, and popular convenience foods. The lactic acid in the processing of these foods provide an additional taste and preservatives to these foods.
     
  4. Pozol
    It is a type of Mexican drink made with fermented corn dough. It can be prepared with cocoa, chilli peppers, honey, or sugar, and it looks like a whitish porridge.
     
  5. Pulque
    It is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the Aztec culture, and it is considered a national drink for the Mexican people. Pulque is a white, viscous, and sour-taste yet refreshing drink.
     
  6. Huitlacoche
    It is a fungus that grows along with corn, so it is also known as corn smut. Huitlacoche looks like a blue-grayish mushroom with soft texture and a sweet, woody taste.
     
  7. Sauerkraut
    It is a typical food from Germany, made with finely cut cabbage which is fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Sauerkraut is one of the most widely known fermented cabbage dishes.
     
  8. Kimchi
    It is a Korean food consisting of different types of vegetables flavored and fermented, with a salty and spicy taste.
     
  9. Fermented Olives
    Also known as table olives, they are the most widely used fermented vegetables. It is established that yeast and lactic acid bacteria are the ones responsible for their fermentation.
     
  10. Pickled Cucumbers
    Another widely used fermented vegetable, cucumbers can be pickled in vinegar and left to ferment. In this category, there are different varieties such as gherkin, cornichon, and even cinnamon-flavored pickles.
     
  11. Fermented Bamboo Shoots
    They are used in Indian cuisine, and there are many bamboo species that can be used to prepare them.
     
  12. Natto
    Natto is a popular soy derivate, resulting from the fermentation of soy and very traditional for the Japanese cuisine. It also has vitamins, enzymes, essential amino acids, and many nutritious properties.
     
  13. Tempe
    A unique type of soy food from Indonesia, tempe or tempeh is prepared as a cake of fermented soybeans with a high content of proteins, vitamins, and fiber.
     
  14. Miso
    It is a food served in almost every meal in Japan. It contains lactic acid bacteria responsible for its fermentation and healthy properties.
     
  15. Soy Sauce
    It is a condiment rich in lactic acid bacteria, made from fermented soybeans, and with impressive anti-allergic properties.
     
  16. Buttermilk
    It is a fermented dairy product with a sour taste given by their lactic acid bacteria. It can be drunk or used in the process of cooking.
     
  17. Sour cream
    It is a dairy product made by letting cream ferment with lactic acid bacteria at a warm temperature, sometimes using thickening agents in some commercial formulations.
     
  18. Yogurt
    Everybody knows yogurt and many people know it’s a probiotic because it has lactic acid bacteria. They give yogurt a tart taste and helps preserving it for longer.
     
  19. Kefir
    It is a fermented drink from the Caucasus Mountains, derived from milk after its fermentation with lactic acid bacteria or yeast.
     
  20. Fermented Tea
    A wide variety of teas are fermented in their elaboration. Known examples are green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and others. The bacterial strains used to elaborate them are varied, but studies have shown that Kombucha tea and Miang tea also contain lactic acid bacteria among their microbiota.
     
  21. Fermented Coffee
    There are various types of fermented coffee, some of them are manufactured by companies trying to take away the bitter taste and digestive discomfort associated with coffee. They do it through fermentation with 5 different microbes, lactic acid bacteria among them.
     
  22. Fermented Cocoa
    Fermenting cocoa beans is one of the first steps to make fine chocolate because it brings out the best of cocoa. It should be maneuvered carefully to obtain the best flavors for chocolate.
     
  23. Wine
    Everybody knows wine is made out of grapes fermented with yeast or lactic acid bacteria. The process quite complex in some cases, in which additional substances are added to provide the best flavor, and the right fermentation. The bacteria convert the acids from grapes into other compounds such as lactic acid.
     
  24. Salads and dressings
    In some commercial brands, lactic acid is a widely used preservative for salads and dressings. This substance is added artificially to maintain the flavor and stability, mainly.
     
  25. Confectionery
    Another case in which lactic acid is present in foods. Many types of candy, fruit gums, and other sweets contain lactic acid, resulting in a mild acid flavor and changes in textures. These are examples of artificially added lactic acid that is not a probiotic and does not provide an additional gastrointestinal benefit.

References:

  1. Tamang, J. P., &Kailasapathy, K. (Eds.). (2010). Fermented foods and beverages of the world. CRC press.