Fermented Poi: How To Prepare This Hawaiian Superfood
For centuries, taro has provided a nutritious staple food for Hawaiians and other Polynesians throughout the Pacific. In the Hawaiian culture, cooked taro that is blended, mixed with water and fermented is called “poi.” The use of poi is said to have led Captain James Cook and other early western visitors to Hawaii to describe native Hawaiians as being an exceptionally healthy people. More recent scientific studies have substantiated the observation that pre-western contact Hawaiians were among the healthiest races on earth.
Recent scientific research has concluded that poi may be beneficial for many medical conditions due to its unique blend of beneficial compounds and its probiotic activity.
•High in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The nutrition in poi is better utilized than other foods due to fermentation (similar to yogurt) and small starch granules.
•High amounts of alkaline-forming elements in poi reduce gastrointestinal disturbances and are better tolerated.
•Helps prevent dental caries.
•Provides valuable nutritional support for individuals who suffer from indigestion, malnourishment, special health problems and those recovering from illnesses.
•Poi, if contaminated by pathogenic organisms, may purify itself with naturally occurring lactic acid- producing bacteria.
•Easily digestible and hypoallergenic.
4 HEALTH BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
There is more than one way that fermented foods can benefit your health. Here are four:
- Fermentation enhances the bio-availability of some nutrients. Fermented cabbage, for instance, has more Vitamin C than the same amount of unfermented cabbage. And fermented cereal grains offer more minerals than their unfermented counterparts. This is one of the lesser realized, yet most profound health benefits. More bang for your buck (and your bite).
A fermentation resurgence is underway in this realm, from fermentation education to companies creating and distributing high quality foods for people to heal with and thrive on.
- Fermentation can detoxify plant foods. This is the case with cassava, an important subsistence crop in the tropics which naturally contains unhealthy levels of hydrogen cyanide. Fermentation transforms the cyanide into a less harmful molecules, making it safe to eat over time. In the west, fermentation (and sprouting) is the only way to reduce the mineral-leaching phytates in grain-based foods like pasta and bread. The result is an easier to digest food.
- Fermentation creates new nutrients. This one is huge. As microbes consume sugars they produce various metabolites like vitamins, bioactive peptides, organic acids and fatty acids to name just a few. This is simple and effective nutrient enhancement, and it is often overlooked. Yet is too valuable to miss.
- The live cultures themselves. This is one we’ve all been hearing a lot about lately. Live cultures (aka beneficial bacteria) have been shown to boost our digestive function, immune system, and even alter our moods. And that is just for starters. You can find them in unheated fermented foods (assuming the foods can be eaten raw). However, quality and quantity of cultures vary across foods and production methods. How to approach this subject? The best advice I received was something like this: eat diverse sources of fermented foods produced according to traditional culturing practices.