Did you know sauerkraut is a probiotic food and has a ton of health benefits? This post will explain the 9 benefits of sauerkraut and why you should eat it every day!
If you cut raw cabbage into fine pieces and ferment it, you end up with sauerkraut. Tasty, tart sauerkraut!
The name of this food item comes from the words sauer (sour) and kraut (cabbage). The name may lead you to think that sauerkraut originated in Germany. But in fact, it’s an invention of the Chinese, who first fermented cabbage in rice wine 2,000 years ago.
Fermentation was used to keep food from spoiling, without any knowledge of the goodness of the practice. What we do know now, is that the benefits of sauerkraut are many.
It’s still a common side dish in many countries and is one of the oldest traditional foods with many benefits. Let’s see what they are!
WHAT IS A PROBIOTIC FOOD?
A probiotic food either has natural probiotics in them or has probiotics added to them. Probiotics are living microorganisms that benefit us. Fermented cabbage is considered probiotic, as are kombucha, kefir, and yogurt. Fermentation takes one kind of food and changes it into another. Like in this instance – cabbage is changed into sauerkraut.
It is recommended that a person add fermented foods to their diet to gain more benefits from probiotics. Some cheeses, pickles, miso, sourdough bread, and kimchi are other sources.
IS SAUERKRAUT HEALTHY?
Sauerkraut contains a ton of good for you nutrients!
- Fiber (3 grams in a cup)
- Vitamins A, C, and K
DOES SAUERKRAUT HELP WITH INFLAMMATION?
Yes, it does. Sauerkraut is linked to gut health more than inflammation directly, though. A healthy gut, however, can aid in the reduction of inflammation because when a person’s digestive system is functioning properly, overall general health is improved.
Studies show that fermented cabbage has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties because of the presence of phytochemicals. Sauerkraut sits in its own fermented juices and is preserved with enzymes, vitamins, and beneficial bacteria without the loss of any of them through a heat process. This makes it a superfood when it comes to the gut – and the lactic acid in sauerkraut also improves intestinal health.
We all know that inflammation can wreak havoc with your health. Read my post about getting rid of inflammation to feel better!
HOW MUCH SAUERKRAUT SHOULD I EAT?
To get the gut benefits from sauerkraut, you should eat about a tablespoon daily. This is easily done by adding a small portion to your plate at dinner time. Doing so is known to aid in digestion and prevent constipation. Sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, so why not give it a try?
Be careful not to overdo it, especially if you feel that you may be reacting to it. Sauerkraut has high levels of histamine, which may cause intolerance.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO EAT SAUERKRAUT?
A lot of people top a hotdog with sauerkraut, use it when making Reuben sandwiches. There are a ton of other ways to eat it, too. It’s pretty versatile really, when you consider it’s made from the simple cabbage! Making your own sauerkraut is the best idea, and then you can enjoy it these ways:
- Add to a bowl of slightly cooled soup (to keep the probiotics active)
- Eat it as a simple side condiment (a tablespoon a day aids digestion!)
- Top poached eggs
- Add it to the top of your avocado toast
- Sprinkle it on a crunchy salad
- Top your favorite burger
- Add to tacos
HOW IS SAUERKRAUT MADE?
Cabbage is finely chopped or shredded. Once placed in a bowl, sea salt is massaged into the cabbage for about 5 minutes. Then, it’s set aside for about 20 minutes while a brine forms. The cabbage and resulting brine are added to a mason jar. Air pockets are a no-no, because harmful bacteria may form in the space. The cabbage and brine have to be well packed, and the brine must cover the cabbage.
The top is always placed loosely, so that fermentation can take place, and bubbles can form. After sitting at room temperature, out of the sunlight for about a month, the sauerkraut should be ready. The brine will be cloudy, and the sauerkraut will be a dull color.
HOW TO BUY THE HEALTHIEST SAUERKRAUT
When shopping for sauerkraut, look for an unpasteurized product that does not have vinegar. The reason behind this is that the probiotics can be lost in the processing. You see, when heat is used for pasteurization, the beneficial bacteria are all but destroyed. And that defeats the purpose, right? The label should state that there are live, active cultures in the sauerkraut.
Sodium is another issue. A cup of store-bought sauerkraut can contain up to 900 milligrams of sodium in a cup. Be careful when purchasing, and check the sodium content. Salt is necessary in sauerkraut, of course. Without it, the beneficial bacteria won’t grow – but the bad for you bacteria will.
Remember to look for sugar content as well. There are a lot of flavored types of sauerkraut on the shelves. Too much sugar just adds sweetness and calories you don’t need.
DOES SAUERKRAUT HAVE VINEGAR IN IT?
Traditional methods for making sauerkraut do not include vinegar. I know the extra sour taste of the dish may seem as though there is, but it’s the salt in the recipe that works to form a brine. The brine is what gives the taste.
BENEFITS OF SAUERKRAUT
1. SAUERKRAUT BENEFITS DIGESTION
Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics, as I mentioned. This is what aids the digestive process and maintains healthy gut flora. The fiber is also beneficial, giving your digestive tract a workout. Fermented cabbage is easier to digest than raw cabbage, and may reduce digestive symptoms like bloating and gas. Sauerkraut may even help with certain digestive disorders, like IBS.
2. SAUERKRAUT IS HIGH IN FOLATE
Because fermented cabbage is high in folate, it provides multiple benefits. Hearing loss related to age and gum disease may be prevented. And, the risk of heart disease and stroke are lowered. Folate is needed for cell division and DNA production, too.
3. SAUERKRAUT IS GOOD FOR THE BRAIN
The brain has a close connection with the gut. It’s all about the flora, and its relation to brain health and even the reduction of stress. Anxiety and depression may be reduced by the increase of mood-related minerals like zinc and magnesium.
4. SAUERKRAUT MAY HELP PREVENT DISEASE
There is a long list of diseases that may have risk-reduction factors when it comes to sauerkraut. Included are bladder disorders, liver problems, and skin issues. Enjoy the distinct flavor of fermented cabbage and know that you are eating a super nutritious food!
5. SAUERKRAUT MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF CANCER
Cancer-fighting compounds are present in fermented foods. DNA damage, excessive cell formation, and cell mutations may be reduced with the consumption of foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
6. SAUERKRAUT HAS LOTS OF VITAMINS
I mentioned the anti-inflammatory properties in sauerkraut before, and part of the benefits in this regard come from vitamins. Sauerkraut is full of Vitamins A, B, C, and K. Eye health is another benefit of sauerkraut.
7. SAUERKRAUT MAY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Because of the fiber in sauerkraut, the digestion process is slowed down. This may help you with weight loss, if that is your goal. You feel full when you eat fiber-filled food, so there is less snacking.
8. SAUERKRAUT MAY MAKE YOUR BONES STRONGER
Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut may have benefits for the bones. A controlled study showed that Vitamin K, important to bone quality, is a key component in many green vegetables, sauerkraut included.
9. SAUERKRAUT CAN HELP THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Again, I’ll mention the benefits of sauerkraut on the gut. The immune system is directly affected by healthy gut flora. Harmful bacteria are kept at bay, and natural antibodies are produced. Probiotics also help fight infection, and when you do get sick, they help you heal faster.
MORE HEALTHY FOODS WITH ADDED NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
Now that you’ve read this post, I bet you’d like to know more about other beneficial foods. Take a look here:
- 21 Top Foods High in Fiber | How and Why to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Turmeric | More Than Just for Inflammation!
- Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss? Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- 10 Benefits of Eggs and Why You Should Eat Them More Often!
- 19 Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar + How to Drink It
- Eating Clean for Beginners
- 12 Amazing Benefits of Ginger
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