Healthy Eating Tips

The 7 Best Gut-Friendly Fermented Foods at Trader Joe’s, According to an RD

Photo: Stocksy/Vera Lair
It goes without saying that any trip to Trader Joe’s is bound to be a joyous occasion. From cheeky artistic displays and pun-packed taglines to experimental new releases and can’t-beat prices, the magic of a TJ’s haul is inimitable. (Truth be told, a friend and I have had consistent shopping dates here over the past three years, where you can spot us dancing in the aisles—shoutout to Trader Joe’s DJs nationwide!—and filling our shared cart to the brim.) Of course, we can’t forget to mention how friendly the staffers are—and with that said, it also brings to mind all of the gut-friendly fare stocked on the store’s shelves.

If you’re like me and love the taste (and countless health benefits) of fermented foods, you’re in luck, as good-old TJ’s has no shortage of fermented bites and beverages to offer. Below, you’ll find some—though certainly not all—of the top Trader Joe's fermented foods worth stocking up on during your next haul. Plus: insights on why they’re amazing for digestion, immunity, and more from Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN of Real Nutrition in New York City.

The best Trader Joe's fermented foods

1. Greek Yogurt with Honey

On our most recent TJ’s haul, we found endless varieties of Greek yogurt by the cup (plain, strawberry vanilla, apricot mango, plant-based... the list goes on), so you can really choose your own adventure on this one. “Greek yogurt contains probiotics, which help to keep digestion on point and to promote immunity,” Shapiro says.

Shapiro also reminds us that Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein—eight ounces of their delicious honey flavor packs eight grams of protein—which “helps boost your energy levels, helps keep blood sugar stable, and promotes muscle maintenance.” To go the extra mile and reap serious nutritional benefits of this breakfast-slash-snack staple, Shapiro recommends topping your cup with high-fiber chia seeds and berries. “These nutrient-dense toppers are packed with prebiotics, which help feed the probiotics and let them do their thing,” she says.

2. Grade-A Cultured Goat Milk Kefir

Next up, Shapiro advises adding kefir, a probiotic powerhouse, to your shopping list. While she mentions that it’s often made from cow’s milk or goat’s milk, she suggests opting for the latter if your digestive system doesn’t respond well to conventional dairy products. “Kefir has more probiotics than yogurt, and is known to have over 60 strains of probiotics, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic option,” Shapiro says. She recommends sipping on kefir with your breakfast, pairing it with fruit for a nutritious snack, or using it as a liquid base for smoothies.

3. Sauerkraut with Pickled Persian Cucumbers

While sauerkraut might not be for everyone, Shapiro can’t get enough of its mouth-puckering, nutrient-rich goodness. On top of offering the standard benefits of fermented foods, she says that this side dish “is super rich in fiber to boost your digestion, as well as vitamins C and K from the cabbage.” As an added bonus, it pairs well with many dishes—that is, if you can restrain yourself from diving in by the forkful and enjoying it on its own. Need inspo? “I like to add it to avocado toast, on top of eggs, and into my salads or bowls for tang and crunch,” Shapiro says.

4. Kimchi (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage)

A crown jewel of Korean cuisine, kimchi is a delicious and highly nutritious fermented food that Trader Joe’s stocks under their own label. While fermented napa cabbage is one of the most popular varieties of kimchi, there are other great types—including radish kimchi and green onion kimchi—that you can make or buy at specialty grocers or from Asian brands. “Similar to sauerkraut, kimchi has a very strong flavor; it’s deliciously garlicky, and is high in fiber to help balance your gut,” Shapiro says. Better yet, she says that the garlic in it not only promotes digestion, but also helps to fight inflammation and chronic illness due to its antioxidant levels. To further delight your taste buds and reap the many health benefits of kimchi, be sure to add TJ's Kimchi & Tofu Soup and Bulgogi Beef Fried Rice With Kimchi to your cart.

5. Organic 3-Grain Tempeh

Next, tempeh is a wonderful option for those (especially plant-based eaters) seeking a protein-packed fermented fix. “Tempeh is one of my favorite sources of soy protein that provides health benefits from probiotics, too,” Shapiro says. She explains that it’s not only good for heart health, but that it’s also a less processed form of soy (compared to most soy-based veggie burgers, for instance).

Shapiro particularly loves tempeh because its fermentation process offers even greater health benefits—and who doesn’t love a built-in bonus? “Since this Trader Joe’s tempeh is paired with grains, the probiotics and the fiber from the prebiotics work together to allow for the good bacteria to proliferate and thrive,” she says. To build a balanced meal around this umami-rich fermented food, take cues from Shapiro and stir fry or grill it with your favorite veggies, then top it off with hot sauce for extra heat and flavor.

6. Miso Ginger Broth

For those unfamiliar with miso, it's a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. You can find it in the likes of pastes and broths, such as this heat-and-eat variety stocked in the soup aisle at your local TJ's. “Due to miso’s high probiotic content, it helps with digestion, heart disease, cholesterol, and more,” Shapiro says.

7. Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

To round out our list of the best fermented foods at Trader Joe’s, we couldn’t possibly forget to mention apple cider vinegar. “Using ACV is one of my favorite ways to add fermented foods into the diet,” Shapiro says. “It contains probiotics and may help with digestion.” While there are many ways to use apple cider vinegar, she recommends diluting one or two tablespoons of the sour tonic with eight or more ounces of water—whether as a tea or at your preferred temperature. “To experience benefits for digestion, try enjoying it daily,” she recommends. If you’re crunched for time, consider stocking up on grab-and-go drinking vinegars such as Trader Joe’s own Organic Sparkling Ginger + Lemon Apple Cider Vinegar Beverage or Suja Organic Cold Pressed Lemon Ginger Cayenne with Apple Cider Vinegar.

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