Benefits of Sauerkraut: Surprising Things About This Healthful Vegetable Preparation
Sauerkraut is a vegetable preparation that many people aren’t familiar with, but that holds numerous health benefits. An ancient fermented cabbage dish from Germany, sauerkraut is still widely consumed today in many cultures across the world. Eating sauerkraut is a great way to incorporate more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet; so, though you may not have seen sauerkraut on the table often, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth knowing about! If you are new to this dish, read on for more information about why this vegetable preparation is so beneficial for your health.
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a type of fermented, or “acidified”, vegetable dish that is commonly made from cabbage. The process of sauerkraut fermentation is similar to that of making yogurt and other types of sour milk, as this technique originated as a method used to preserve foods. Sauerkraut is primarily known for its use in German cuisine, but cabbages are commonly cultivated in many countries and cultures around the world, so it is possible to make sauerkraut virtually anywhere! Typically made from shredded cabbage that has been salted (with or without the addition of vinegar), sauerkraut is then packed in a jar, with or without a fermentation starter culture. Fermentation can occur naturally when microorganisms (such as bacteria and yeasts) ferment the cabbage, producing lactic acid and other probiotics that “build” the probiotic levels in the sauerkraut. The addition of vinegar to the preparation, usually before the fermentation process, gives sauerkraut its common “pickle” taste.
4 Sauerkraut Health Benefits
It's a probiotic powerhouse: sauerkraut it is a great source of probiotic bacteria, including lactobacilli and streptococci. These bacteria are good for your health as they are naturally found in the human gut. Probiotic bacteria are therefore important for good gut health and in many cases can replace antibiotics as a treatment option - particularly for those suffering from antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).
It's anti-inflammatory: research shows that when you consume probiotic bacteria such as those found in sauerkraut, your body is healthier overall. In fact, one of the best benefits of consuming probiotic bacteria is that they can help reduce inflammation in the body. AAD, metabolic syndrome, and other inflammatory diseases are common today as our diets are often lacking in probiotic-rich foods. Sauerkraut is an excellent source of probiotic bacteria and is a great way to reduce inflammation in the body.
It's anti-diabetic: the anti-diabetic properties of sauerkraut have been well-researched, and the probiotic bacteria in sauerkraut have been shown to have a significant impact on diabetes. When you consume probiotic bacteria such as those found in sauerkraut, your body will be more resistant to this disease by reducing insulin resistance and decreasing glucose levels in the blood.
It has anti-carcinogenic properties: probiotic bacteria, in general, have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. The probiotic bacteria in sauerkraut have been shown to fight colon cancer, so eating sauerkraut is a great way to incorporate more healthy bacteria in your diet.
Ways to incorporate sauerkraut in your diet
Try sauerkraut in a sandwich or wrap to give your lunch a little extra "umph".
Add sauerkraut to a stir-fry or other Asian-inspired dish.
Use it as a topping on salads, removing vinegar and vinegar-based condiments.
Try it in its most traditional pairing: alongside stews and sausages, as a side dish.
Easy sauerkraut recipe
Making your own sauerkraut is easier than you think. Thoroughly wash the cabbage and the mason jar you'll be using, so as to minimise the bacteria present. Mix together the shredded cabbage, salt and any other seasonings you like (a common condiment is vinegar) and mix with your hands for around 5 to 10 minutes. You can also add some nutritious seeds such as ground flax or chia seeds to lock in the probiotics. Place the mixture it in a jar and pack it well; the objective is to have the cabbage cover itself with the liquid it releases. Cover the jar with a cloth and fix it with a rubber band or string. Let the cabbage sit at room temperature, in darkness, for 3 to 10 days, stirring occasionally. Each time you stir, make sure all the sauerkraut is submerged, otherwise it might start to go bad or become mouldy. After this time, strain the sauerkraut, store it in a container in the fridge and use it over the next few days.
Sauerkraut is a delicious and nutritious probiotic-rich vegetable preparation definitely worth knowing about. It is a great way to incorporate more probiotic-rich foods in your diet, including lactobacillus bacteria that can fight harmful pathogens. Try incorporating it into your menus by adding it to sandwiches, wraps, salads or asian foods and you may be surprised at how beneficial it can be for your health!