Sauerkraut health benefits includes promoting digestion, boosting immune system, promoting heart health, reducing asthma attacks, boosting energy levels, strengthening bones and boosting mental health. Other benefits includes fighting stress, promoting weight loss, providing eye and skincare benefits, fighting inflammation and reducing allergies, and preventing scurvy.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut, which means ‘sour cabbage’ in German, is a side dish comprised of fermented cabbages and spices. The Institute for Integrative Medicine at the University of Witten, Germany affirmed that sauerkraut is among the oldest forms of vegetable preservation that dates back to the 4th century BC. Many people associate the said recipe with Eastern European countries where it is profoundly featured among their cultural dishes; however, some accounts point to its origin in China, only having been brought to Europe during the Roman Empire.
Similar to kimchi, finely shredded cabbages undergo lactic acid fermentation in airtight containers. Fermentation by lactic acid enables the sauerkraut to have a long shelf life and a unique sour flavor. Fermented foods, such as the sauerkraut, were very valuable in the age before refrigeration, as it allowed food to remain edible and fresh throughout long voyages. Most importantly, sauerkraut provided nutrition when food was scarce during winter. Sauerkraut’s fermentation process produces health-benefitting probiotics analogous to yogurt and kimchi.
Carbohydrates 4.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g – 12% RDA
Protein 0.9 g – 2% RDA
Vitamin A 18 IU
Alpha Carotene 5 mcg
Beta Carotene 8 mcg
Lutein + Zeaxanthin 295 mcg
Vitamin C 14.7 mg – 24% RDA
Vitamin E 0.1 mg – 1% RDA
Vitamin K 13 mcg – 16% RDA
Thiamin 1% RDA
Riboflavin 1% RDA
Niacin 0.1 mg – 1%
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg – 6% RDA
Pantothenic Acid 0.1 mg – 1% RDA
Choline 10.4 mg
Betaine 0.5 mg
Calcium 30 mg – 3% RDA
Iron 1.5 mg – 8% RDA
Magnesium 13 mg – 3% RDA
Phosphorus 20 mg – 2% RDA
Potassium 170 mg – 5% RDA
Sodium 661 mg – 28% RDA
Zinc 0.2 mg – 1% RDA
Copper 0.1 mg – 5% RDA
Manganese 0.2 mg – 8% RDA
Selenium 0.6 mcg – 1% RDA
13 Impressive Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
1. Promotes Digestion
Cabbage is notable for its high fiber content. It is general knowledge that fiber is among the key factors in any diet for the benefit of the digestive system. Fiber allows a fluent peristaltic movement, encourages regular bowel movements, and eliminates constipation, flatulence, and excess gas. As cabbage ferments, it produces a broad spectrum of bacteria. These probiotics or good bacteria inhabit inside your gut and serve as the first line of defense against pathogens that may enter through the food we eat.
In addition, the good bacteria in sauerkraut help restore the bacterial balance in your gut after a course of antibiotics. A cup of sauerkraut alone contains approximately 3 billion colony-forming units. Likewise, sauerkraut contains enzymes that help break down nutrients for better absorption. Since probiotics help reduce inflammation and eliminate pathogens that may reside within your digestive tract, probiotics are beneficial for reducing symptoms brought by irritable bowel syndrome.
2. Boosts The Immune System
Approximately 75% of our immune system relies on our gut integrity. Sauerkraut’s probiotics contributes to the immune system by controlling inflammation and inhibiting immune reactions, both of which are the root cause of so many ailments today.
Probiotics help build up a stronger stomach lining to prevent unwanted substances from leaking into your body that may lead to undesirable immune responses. Moreover, maintaining a healthy gut flora is not only vital in the prevention of bacterial manifestation but also for the production of antibodies. A 100 g serving of sauerkraut contains 24% of your recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C, which is one of the most vital elements for our immune system’s continued health.
3. Promotes Heart Health
Fiber is just as vital for heart health as much as for digestion. It helps eliminate fatty deposits within artery walls; hence, reducing the risk for atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and other heart problems. Moreover, a 100 g serving of sauerkraut contains 6.6-mcg menaquinone that helps reduce heart disease by preventing calcium deposits in the arteries.
4. Helps Reduce Asthma Attacks
Asthma is an allergic reaction, with manifestations on the respiratory system. Sauerkraut exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce asthma attacks and treat the condition.
5. Boosts Energy Levels
Cabbage contains iron that contributes to energy production through increasing the body’s metabolism and increased oxygenation of organs and cells. Increased iron levels also prevent iron deficiency anemia and wards of its side effects such as headaches, fatigue, and painful menstrual cramps.
6. Strengthens Bones
As stated above, sour cabbage contains menaquinone or commonly known as vitamin K, which contributes largely in bone health. Vitamin K produces proteins that facilitate bone mineralization and in the absorption of calcium, which is the foundation of strong bones and teeth.
Moreover, sauerkraut’s vitamin C content also plays a vital role in bone health since bone building starts with strands of collagen. Crystallized calcium and phosphorus connects to the collagen for bone formation. The amalgamation of minerals and collagen creates a skeletal frame that can withstand impact.
7. Boosts Mental Health
The brain and digestive system are connected. What you eat can affect your brain and vice versa. Thereby, eating probiotic-rich foods that promotes healthy gut flora can provide positive effects to the brain. Researchers attributed this to the communication via the vagus nerve, which is affected by the good bacteria present in the gut. Furthermore, probiotics have also shown to sharpen memory.
8. Helps Fight Stress
Probiotics found in sauerkraut have been found to relieve anxiety, depression, and reduce the likelihood of obsessive-compulsive responses. By contributing to the creation of a healthy gut flora, absorption of mood-regulating minerals such as magnesium and zinc are increased to help fight stress and help induce a happy temperament.
9. Beneficial of Weight Loss
Eating sauerkraut helps curb food cravings. Studies show that people who regularly consume probiotic-rich foods have a lowered risk for obesity. Since sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, it fills your stomach, provides you nutrition, and prevents you from frequent snacking.
10. Provides Eye and Skincare Benefits
Sauerkraut is rich in vitamin A, an antioxidant that eliminates free radicals from the body and helps prevent premature skin aging. Likewise, vitamin A is vital in eye health and reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
11. Provides Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants
Sauerkraut’s main ingredient, the cabbage, has phytochemicals that fights against cancerous cell formations and reduce inflammation. However, more research are still in progress to uncover the exact impact of sauerkraut on cancer. Nonetheless, the presence of its antioxidants show great potential.
12. Reduces Inflammation and Allergies
Inflammation is the body’s response to harmful stimuli. When inflammation occurs, white blood cells are released into the affected tissues to safeguard your body from foreign invaders. However, inflammation is also the root cause of a majority of diseases. Inflammation, when triggered by autoimmunity, causes more harm than good as it enables your body to attack itself. As soon as your body suspects that it is being harmed by a foreign invader, be it food, allergen, poor air quality, or a new type of cosmetic, it attacks it own tissues instead.
Sauerkraut’s probiotics help regulate naturally killing cells that controls the body’s inflammatory pathways and acts in response accordingly to prevent unnecessary symptoms and puts off chronic diseases.
13. Prevents Scurvy and Other Vitamin C Deficiencies
Sauerkraut is rich in immune-boosting probiotics and vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant famed for its efficacy against the common cold, flu, and fever. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and maintain healthy gums. If you get sick today, eating probiotic-rich foods help you recover fast and reduce your risk of contracting illnesses in the future.
Sauerkraut is among the healthiest foods made from one of the oldest food preparation methods, which is fermentation. It is popularly known as a condiment or a side dish in Eastern European and Asian countries. However, sauerkraut’s popularity surged and has managed to find a spot in the global market because of its distinctive flavor and array of health benefits. If you are not fond of dairy cultured foods, you can opt for non-dairy cultured foods like sauerkraut that share the same effects with yogurt.