Diverse African traditional fermented foods and beverages, produced using different types of fermentation, have been used since antiquity because of their numerous nutritional values. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) isolated from these products have emerged as a welcome source of antimicrobials and therapeutics, and are accepted as probiotics. Probiotics are defined as live microbial food supplements which beneficially affect the host by improving the intestinal microbial balance. Currently, popular probiotics are derived from fermented milk products. However, with the growing number of consumers with lactose intolerance that are affected by dietary cholesterol from milk products, there is a growing global interest in probiotics from other food sources. The focus of this review is to provide an overview of recent developments on the applications of probiotic LAB globally, and to specifically highlight the suitability of African fermented foods and beverages as a viable source of novel probiotics.
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