From the grocery store brands to the homemade recipe we've listed here, sauerkraut is so much more than a side dish.
Let's figure out what this fermented superfood is all about. This article will explore what sauerkraut contains, why it's so good for us, and even how we can make it at home.
What is sauerkraut?
In a nutshell, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. The cabbage is finely cut and then fermented to create a pleasant sou- flavored food with a long shelf life and many health benefits. Throughout history, we've believed that sauerkraut is food that originated from Germany.
In truth, it originally came from ancient China, where fermenting veggies goes as far back as 2,000 years ago! It made its way to Germany, where it became world-famous, and for good reason! It is super-tasty and super-healthy!
Is sauerkraut good for you?
Yes, it is! The amazing health benefits of sauerkraut are legendary, and one of the reasons why it's so popular is the health benefits of sauerkraut, for example:
#1 Sauerkraut is super-nutritious!
The nutrients in sauerkraut are all geared for optimum health. It only takes one cup of sauerkraut to pack a nutritious punch like this:
- 27 Calories
- 0 Grams of fat
- 6 Grams of carbohydrates
- 4 Grams of fiber
- 1 Gram protein
- 41% (Daily Value) Sodium
- 23% (DV) Vitamin C
- 15% (DV) Vitamin K
- 12% (DV) Iron
- 9% (DV) Manganese
- 11% (DV) Vitamin B6
- 9% (DV) Folate
- 15% (DV) Copper
- 5% (DV) Potassium
Who would have thought that something as basic as fermented cabbage could pack such a nutritional punch!
#2 It improves your digestion
Sauerkraut contains powerful probiotics. With over 100 trillion microorganisms (gut flora) inside the average human gut, eating sauerkraut will give your gut beneficial bacteria. This will help it to defend itself against toxins and harmful bacteria, and it improves digestion.
The probiotics in sauerkraut may help bring balance back to the bacteria in the gut. This is particularly useful if you've used antibiotics (which throws off the gut's natural bacteria).
Probiotics may also help reduce bloating and other symptoms, giving you a better belly.
#3 Immune system booster
Because sauerkraut brings good bacteria into your gut, it strongly influences your immune system.
By balancing the bacteria in your gut, you'll develop a healthy gut lining that may prevent harmful substances from leaking into your body, compromising your immune system.
A strong stomach lining and balanced gut bacteria put harmful bacteria at bay. This helps the digestive system to produce natural antibodies, which will help reduce your risk for infection.
#4 Healthy gut = healthy mind
Studies have shown that gut health is linked to mental health and your ability to handle stress. When you have specific types of bacteria in your gut, your brain receives messages from that bacteria, affecting your overall mental health.
Of course, sauerkraut is packed with probiotics, which is exactly what you need for a healthy gut. Some research even suggests that there are compounds found in sauerkraut that can help your gut absorb minerals that help mood-regulation.
#5 May reduce the risk of certain cancers
Cabbage alone contains antioxidants and many other plant compounds that have many health benefits. Studies suggest that those compounds may play a part in reducing DNA damage. This could prevent the mutation and growth of certain cells that cause tumors.
#6 A "heart-healthy" food
Sauerkraut is linked to good heart health because of the high fiber and probiotic content, which may reduce cholesterol levels in the body. Studies have also indicated that probiotics may help lower blood pressure.
We already know that cabbage benefits our health because it's full of antioxidants. But, did you notice it also contains Vitamin K2? This vitamin may help prevent the accumulation of calcium deposits in the arteries, helping to reduce heart disease risk.
#7 Weight loss with sauerkraut?
Did you know that some believe that regularly eating sauerkraut could help you lose weight? The calories in sauerkraut is low and the fiber is high - for this reason alone, sauerkraut may help you to lose weight if eaten in moderation as part of a healthy eating plan.
#8 It could help your bones become stronger
The levels of vitamin K2 in sauerkraut also affect bone health. Vitamin K activates the two proteins that bind to calcium, helping you to develop more robust and healthier bones.
Studies show vitamin K may assist in several bone-related problems such as bone density or reducing the risk of certain bone fractures.
The studies, however, used supplements instead of sauerkraut, so it's not clear whether sauerkraut alone would generate the same results.
Homemade sauerkraut is easier than you think!
There are many varieties of sauerkraut available in almost every supermarket or grocery store, but what if you wanted to make sauerkraut? We've given you a super recipe for making your own sauerkraut at home with green cabbage.
Health benefits aside, sauerkraut is an easy food to make, and it's delicious! With easy-to-find ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, you can make your own sauerkraut in no time with this recipe:
Swanhilda’s Super Sauerkraut Recipe
- 1 medium cabbage (green)
- 1 tbsp non-iodized salt (15 ml)
- 2 to 3 carrots - shredded (optional)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic - finely chopped (optional)
- Store in a 1-quart jar. Have the jar ready for storing your sauerkraut in.
- Peel away the outer leaves of the cabbage, setting a good-looking leaf aside for later.
- Slice the peeled cabbage into quarters. Leave the core in for easy shredding.
- Shred the cabbage quarters into a large mixing bowl with the carrot and garlic (optional).
- Make sure you have roughly 28 oz of cabbage. This will fill the quart jar.
- Add the salt and massage the cabbage mixture into the bowl thoroughly for a few minutes until a brine starts to accumulate at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
- Pack the cabbage mixture into your quart jar.
- Press down to remove any air.
- Pour the leftover brine mixture into the jar, submerging the cabbage in liquid. This will prevent any bacteria growth happening from unwanted air.
- Take the good-looking cabbage leaf you set aside and trim it to the jar opening's size and place it on top of the contents. This will prevent any of the vegetables from coming to the surface and touching the lid.
- Place a 4 oz jar without the lid on top of the contents. This will hold down the vegetable mixture below the brine during the fermentation process.
- Screw the lid onto your quart jar, pressing down the 4 oz jar, holding your vegetable mixture below the brine line. Leaving the lid slightly loose allows for any gas to escape while the fermentation process is happening.
- Keep your cabbage out of the sun and at room temperature for a period of 1 to 4 weeks.
- A larger head will make sweeter-tasting sauerkraut.
- You may be able to taste your sauerkraut after 7 days, but a cabbage that sits longer during this process will have a stronger taste and more of those healthy nutrients.
Open your sauerkraut jar and dig in!
If you want to boost your gut health, or just incorporate some food with probiotics, homemade or canned sauerkraut is a perfect way to do so. Made from cabbage, which is already healthy, the benefits of sauerkraut are many.
Loaded with minerals and vitamins and probiotics, and low in calories, sauerkraut may aid in weight loss, boost your immune system, and could improve digestion.
Say yes to sauerkraut! Health benefits and great taste in one food? You can't go wrong!