Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
As a Polish kid, I grew up eating Sauerkraut. None of my friends had ever heard of it and they thought it was weird. I liked it. Well, it looks like I get to have the last laugh now, because the Health Benefits of Sauerkraut are getting all kinds of media attention as more and more health-conscious people are discovering the benefits of adding Sauerkraut to their diet. Its ironic that while growing up, Sauerkraut was considered a ‘geeky’ food, and now its one of those super-cool foods that everyone is getting into.
What Makes Sauerkraut Good for You?
Sauerkraut is one of the “fermented” foods that we’re hearing and reading so much about lately. In this case, it is fermented cabbage. We don’t mean “pickled” cabbage, but rather, fermented – big difference. Fermentation is a method of preserving food that dates back more than 2,000 years. Read on to learn why fermented foods like sauerkraut are good for you and how they promote good health.
During the fermentation process, ‘live bacteria’ that are very healthy for the gut (in other words probiotics) are naturally produced. Its these probiotics that give sauerkraut most of its health benefits (namely digestive benefits). Yes, eating sauerkraut populates your gut with those all important good bacteria.
We know that probiotics help improve digestion and can reduce some digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation. Probiotics are helpful to anyone suffering with conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Health experts tell us that everyone should be consuming daily probiotics – most people don’t eat any where enough fermented foods on a daily basis to get the right intake of probiotics, so many people take their probiotics in supplement form.
Gut health is very key to overall health in the body. In fact, there is also a strong correlation between the health of the gut and the health of the brain (the gut-brain connection). There are vast amounts of research on the importance of good gut bacteria in supporting overall long-term health, including how probiotics from cultured foods such as sauerkraut (or taken in supplement form) may reduce your risk of conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s.
Sauerkraut as an Anti-inflammatory Food
Any type of fermented food, sauerkraut included, is very beneficial for fighting inflammation in the body. Inflammation can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways, none of it good. From skin conditions like psoriasis, to painful joint problems like arthritis, to Alzheimers disease, to IBS – these are all negative conditions that arise from inflammation in the body.
Is Sauerkraut Good for Digestion?
Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fibre and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Sauerkraut also contains enzymes that help the body to break down food into smaller, and more easily digestible molecules which in turn helps the body to absorb more nutrients.
Sauerkraut for the immune system
Most of our immune system is found in our gut, so a healthy gut is extremely important in order to maintain a healthy immune system. Therefore, with its gut benefiting properties, sauerkraut also enhances the immune system too. The good bacteria from sauerkraut helps to keep the lining of your digestive system healthy. A strong gut lining stops any unwanted substances or toxins from ‘leaking’ into your body (known as leaky gut syndrome), which causes an unwanted immune response. These same bacteria may also support your natural antibodies and reduce your risk of infections.
Is sauerkraut good for weight loss?
Research seems to indicate that consuming sauerkraut and other probiotic-rich foods can reduce your risk of obesity and help you to lose weight. Sauerkraut is a good source of fibre which helps to keep you fuller for longer, which is another way in which it benefits weight loss.
Sauerkraut and sodium
One of the few downsides to sauerkraut is that it is quite high in sodium due to the salt used in the fermentation process. So definitely if you are consuming a lot of sauerkraut you do need to keep your eye on your sodium levels. Its a good idea to rinse sauerkraut before using. Place in a strainer and run it under cold water. This will remove a lot of the excess sodium.