In ancient times, the use of fermentation processes was mainly used for preservation, creating a wide variety of foods and beverages that today are still part of the diet of many people in developing countries.
Fermented beverages are obtained from the controlled interaction of microorganisms or enzymes with the food, which causes changes in its components, obtaining a liquid with diverse properties as the main product. These beverages are classified as alcoholic and non-alcoholic, the latter derived from milk fermentation.
In Mexico, a variety of fermented beverages are produced and consumed from different sources such as corn, maguey, agave, pineapple, and berries, where different microorganisms are used. The main fermented beverages made in Mexico are beer, tequila, wine, coyol wine, mezcal, bacanora, pulque, tejuino, tuba, pozol, tepache, mead, atole agrio, sotol and chorote, among others.
Fermented beverages in Mexico
During the fermentation process, the microorganisms transform the sugars in the food into carbon dioxide, alcohol, and other compounds, in addition to generating an increase in the nutrients available in the food. Also during this process, the bioactive compounds of the food matrix are released, making them available for absorption.
Several studies indicate that fermented beverages are a source of biologically active compounds such as phenolic compounds, saponins, carotenoids, and anthocyanins, among others. In this sense, these compounds have been related to the prevention of various ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
It has also been reported that fermented beverages are a source of probiotics, which are related to the prevention of various gastrointestinal problems, because they protect the body against pathogenic bacteria, improving defenses.
On the other hand, the consumption of fermented beverages has been related to weight loss, in addition to preventing inflammation and protecting different organs such as the liver.
Despite the beneficial properties of fermented beverages, beverages such as wine, beer, tequila, and mezcal contain a significant alcohol content (between 4% and up to 40%) and their excessive consumption causes significant health problems. However, pulque, pozol, pozole agrio, tejuino, and tepache are beverages whose consumption is considered a low risk due to their low or zero alcohol values.
Therefore, according to preliminary studies, these beverages have potential health benefits due to their composition, although more studies are still needed to prove it. In the meantime, let's enjoy them in moderation.
Collaboration of researchers Luis Ángel Cabanillas-Bojórquez, Érick Paul Gutiérrez Grijalva and José Basilio Heredia. Source: CIAD