Sauerkraut – which translates to ‘sour cabbage’ in German – can be defined as fermented cabbage mixed with different herbs and spices that are common as a side dish or as a condiment. Fermentation is an age-old form of preserving food. Fermentation was an extremely viable option before the time of refrigeration as it not only kept food both edible and fresh throughout long voyages but also provided food during food shortages during the winter.
Aside from being low in calories, sauerkraut is extremely nutrient-rich. It’s high in protein and dietary fiber, and it also contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as various B vitamins such as vitamin B6 and folate as well as iron, manganese, copper, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. During the fermentation process, healthy bacteria (commonly known as probiotics) are produced and this is what provides sauerkraut with its many health benefits – along with its rich nutrient content.
Health benefits of sauerkraut
Boosts digestive health
Sauerkraut is made from cabbage which has an extremely high fibre content. With regards to digestive health, fibre is the most important nutrient. It encourages regular bowel movement as well as helping to prevent constipation. Moreover, probiotics from sauerkraut also benefit digestive health. They not only feed the good bacteria in the gut, but they also protect the gut from developing ulcers or infections by getting rid of pathogens that may reside inside the digestive tract.
Fights against inflammation
Inflammation is a good thing as it’s the body’s response to any foreign invaders.
Unfortunately, inflammation can also cause more harm to the good as it can allow the body to unnecessarily attacking itself. Sauerkraut contains anti-inflammatory properties that help fight against pathogens that cause inflammation, thus preventing the heightened risk of one developing chronic disease.
Fibre not only boosts digestive health, but it can also boost heart health. Fiber helps to rid the body of bad cholesterol and prevent it from being absorbed into the blood. By balancing cholesterol levels, sauerkraut can help prevent cardiovascular health problems. Furthermore, sauerkraut contains vitamin K2 which studies have shown helps to maintain heart health by preventing the build-up of calcium deposits within the arteries.
Although there still needs to be more research done, there are studies that have highlighted sauerkrauts’ cancer-fighting properties. A study published in The Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition journal found that compounds found in cabbage may potentially help prevent the development of tumors.
Sauerkraut contains calcium, which is great for bone health, but it also contains vitamin K2 which is just as important as it helps the body better absorb calcium. By supporting bone health, sauerkraut not only ensures healthy and strong bones but also helps to prevent osteoporosis.
Eye and Skin Care
Sauerkraut is perfect for skincare as it contains vitamin C. This vitamin encourages the production of collagen which helps to keep skin young and firm.
It also contains vitamin A, which protects the skin against free radicals, thus preventing premature aging in the skin. With regards to eye care, vitamin A maintains eye health by reducing the risk of cataracts (cloudy vision) and age-related macular degeneration (which often results in blindness).
As mentioned, sauerkraut is low in calories as well as high in fiber. This combination makes it perfect for weight management as it keeps you fuller for longer, reducing the odds of you snacking. Furthermore, one study found that probiotics help to reduce the amount of fat absorption done by the body.
The link between your gut and your brain is quite interesting as a number of researchers believe that the probiotics found in the gut may be influencing how the brain functions. A study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that probiotics help to sharpen memory as well as reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and autism.
As mentioned, sauerkraut contains vitamin C which helps to strengthen the immune system. Probiotics also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria – which could lead to infections.
When looking to buy sauerkraut, it’s important that you choose the right one. Food manufacturers now mass-produce foods that are pasteurized and rich in chemicals, preservatives, and added sugars, but low in probiotics. Choose sauerkraut that’s been prepared in the traditional way – a way in which the number of probiotics has been preserved.
If you’d rather make your own sauerkraut, cabbage, water, salt, and a lot of patience!
Want to know more?
Who would have thought that gut microbes could be disturbed when traveling abroad? Well, it appears they are. Israeli researchers have found that jet lag could negatively affect microbes in the gut. Click here to read the rest of the article.
I had no idea sauerkraut was so good for you. That’s great information to know since I really LOVE sauerkraut and have for as long as I can remember. Thanks for the article.