Why Pickles Are the Most Surprising Superfood

What do pickles, vinegar, tempeh, chocolate and wine have in common?

— -- intro:Pop quiz: What do pickles, vinegar, tempeh, chocolate and wine have in common? Yes, they're all delicious—and they're all fermented. And that means they all have major health perks.

Cultures around the world have enjoyed fermented foods for millennia; they devour kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Germany and cheese...everywhere. Now fermenting is appealing to consumers eager to return to naturally healthy ways of eating. Top chefs are embracing it too; Momofuku's David Chang has a culinary lab dedicated to food science, including fermentation, which he calls the "machinery of flavor."Fermentation is what happens "when rotten goes right," Chang says. It may sound kind of gross, but fermentation involves "good" microorganisms breaking down or partially digesting food, which makes nutrients easier for your body to absorb. Research suggests that fermented foods can also strengthen immunity.

quicklist: 3category: Fermented Foodstitle: Wine and beerurl:text: They're both fermented (yay!). You don't need me to tell you how to enjoy them.

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Other delicious ideas: Swap tempeh for tofu in a stir-fry, pile sauerkraut on a turkey sandwich or marinate chicken in buttermilk overnight. With so many great choices, you'll be in a pickle in no time (but in a good way).

Snack On This: If you love sriracha, the super flavorful Southeast Asian hot sauce, like I do, grab a bag of Indiana Sriracha Popcorn ($4 for a 6-oz. bag; at Whole Foods Market). Seasoned with red chili pepper, it brings the heat. And studies suggest that chiles boost metabolism.

Gotta Have It: When I see something I don't recognize on a food label, I turn to the Chemical Cuisine app (free; iTunes and Google Play) from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Search the alphabetical list of 130-plus food additives; color-coded icons indicate whether the ingredient you're curious about is safe, OK for some people or to be avoided completely.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.