Gut problems are becoming common these days. If left untreated, it can cause severe bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivity, and severe pain. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that supplementation can provide relief.
Why Probiotics are Essential?
Probiotics are live bacteria and microorganisms that provide strong health benefits. We usually consider them pathogenic bacteria.
If you lose these good bacteria living in your gut, probiotics can help you replace them after taking antibiotics. They can help balance "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body functioning as it should. They also help increase the digestibility of food, which increases the gut's ability to absorb the vitamins and minerals it contains. They can improve digestive health, reduce depression, and promote heart health.
Using supplements for getting probiotics is popular, but you can also get them from fermented foods. Not all fermented foods contain probiotics like wine. The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and Sauerkraut. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of Sauerkraut.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is living food or, putting it simply; Sauerkraut is a pile of sour cabbage. That’s all? Well, by definition, Sauerkraut is essentially fermented cabbage. Most of us would up our nose from its smell, but as you would read forward, you will find out that the smell is worth swallowing it down your throats.
Sauerkraut is filled with probiotics, a variety of tiny microbes that enhance your digestion, immune system, and energy level. The word ‘sauerkraut’ literally means ‘sour cabbage.’ The word is German in origin, but the dish was first made in China. The dish took its roots from China to Europe through Tartars. Since then, Sauerkraut has been a part of the European diet.
You will now find this dish with the name of Zuurkool in the Netherlands and Choucroute in France. Kraut is made by mixing fresh grated cabbage and salt and pressing a mixture that releases water and causes fermentation. This revives amazing microbes, which can be enough stimulus for you to eat a lot of fragrant Kraut, which is served with your potatoes and kielbasa.
Is Sauerkraut Healthy?
Sauerkraut gets into a dark corner when playing kombucha, probiotic supplements, and other thefts. But that's unfair because kale - you know, fermented kale - is a probiotic food that offers many health benefits. All that a cup of Sauerkraut has to offer is pure nutrition. Here is what you can get from it.
- 27 cal of calories
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.7 grams of proteins
- Zero fats
- 3 grams of fiber
- 30 milligrams of calcium
- 1.5 milligrams of Iron
- 13 milligrams of magnesium
- 20 milligrams of Phosphorus
- 170 milligrams of Potassium
- 24 micrograms of folate
- 18 micrograms of vitamin A
- 15 milligrams of vitamin C
- 13 micrograms of vitamin K
- Traces of copper, vitamin B6, and K1.
Scientists claim Sauerkraut to be nutritious because it undergoes fermentation. Fermentation allows microorganisms to digest the natural sugars inside the cabbage by converting them into carbon dioxide and organic acids. Fermenting cabbage creates conditions that support the growth of beneficial probiotics, which are also found in products like yogurt and kefir.
What Are the Health Benefits of Sauerkraut?
There is a long list of diseases that can have risk-reducing factors when it comes to Sauerkraut. This includes bladder problems, liver problems, and skin problems. The bowl is filled with vitamins A, B, C, and K. Minerals contained in cabbage include folate, copper, manganese, iron, and sodium. Cabbage is also high in fiber. All of these elements are important for proper nutrition and growth.
Sauerkraut Is Healthy for Your Digestive System
This is the main reason behind European’s healthy guts. A small pilot study found that regular consumption of kale can help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When the researchers analyzed the participants' feces in the lab, they found an increase in good bacteria. Fermented food, like
Sauerkraut, is already rich in probiotics, which are associated with better gut health.
Sauerkraut Can Help You to Lose Weight
Consuming probiotic-rich foods, such as sauerkraut, can reduce the risk of obesity and help you lose weight, although more research is needed in this area. Sauerkraut is a good source of fiber to keep you fuller for longer.
Sauerkraut Contains Probiotics That Have a Strong Effect on the Immune System
Probiotics usually improve the balance of good bacteria in the lining of the gut, preventing intestinal diseases. Cabbage is also rich in iron and vitamin C, which support a healthy immune system and speed up the healing process.
Sauerkraut Can Improve Your Bones
Fermented foods like kimchi and kale can have bone benefits. A controlled study showed that vitamin K, which is important for bone quality, is a key ingredient in many green vegetables, including kale. More specifically, proteins, which binds to calcium to the bones, are activated by vitamin K. This is thought to contribute to stronger and healthier bones.
In further studies, it has been proven that vitamin K2 can benefit bone health. According to research, a three-year study of postmenopausal women found that those taking vitamin K2 supplements had a slower, age-related decline in bone mineral density. Likewise, several other studies indicate that taking vitamin K2 supplements reduced the risk of spine, hip, and spine fractures by 60-81%.
Sauerkraut Is Healthy for Your Brain
Like acidic food, kale can promote mental health. Your brain is closely linked to your gut. Research is emerging that probiotic foods, including kale, can help improve memory, promote cognition, and relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Eating Sauerkraut Contributes to a Healthier Heart
This is because it contains a good amount of fiber and probiotics, which can help lower cholesterol. Probiotics, such as those found in cabbage, can also help to slightly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. People seem to get the best results when they use at least 10 million CFUs a day for more than eight weeks. Vitamin K2 reduces the risk of heart disease by preventing the build-up of calcium deposits in the arteries.
In one study, regular intake of vitamin K2-rich foods was associated with the reduced risk of death from heart disease by 57% over the 7-10 year study period. In another case, women reduced their risk of heart disease by 9% for every ten micrograms of vitamin K2 they consume daily.
Eating Sauerkraut Could Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Both kale and kale are good sources of glucosinolates and ascorbigen, which are anti-cancer compounds." Cabbage and kale contain sulforaphane, a compound that can block HDAC enzymes, a class of enzymes involved in the development of cancer.
Enjoy the distinctive taste of Sauerkraut, and know that you are eating super nutritious food!
Can I Make My Own Sauerkraut?
It's quite simple to make your own Sauerkraut that you can keep in your fridge for a while.
- Cabbage – 2 kgs
- Sea salt – 3 – 6 tbsp
- The cabbage should be firm, light green, or white in color and free from kernels. Remove any leathery leaves. Don’t forget the outer leaves.
- After cutting the cabbage, weigh it in the right proportion of salt and cabbage (15 g for 500 g).
Thoroughly wash a tub or large bowl (we used the size of a small plate), then rinse with boiling water from a kettle. Make sure your hands and anything that comes into contact with the cabbage is thoroughly clean. It makes sense to use a container that can comfortably hold the softened cabbage, which will allow a few inches of space at the top to prevent overflow.
Cut the cabbage thinly - the food processor can do this easily. Put the cabbage and salt in a bathtub or bowl. Massage the salt over the cabbage skin for 5 minutes, wait 5 minutes and then repeat. You should end up with a greatly reduced volume of cabbage sitting in its own brine.
Completely cover the surface of the cabbage with a layer of food film and then let out any air bubbles from below. Weigh the cabbage with some heavy plates or other weights suitable for your bowl and cover as much cabbage as possible. The brine level rises to cover the cabbage a little. Cover the tub and leave it in the dark at cool room temperature (around 18 - 20 ° C) for some days (at least five days). It will be ready to serve in a week or so for sure, but for maximum flavor, let the cabbage ferment for 2-6 weeks (or until it stops bubbling).
Check the cabbage every day, release the gases that formed during fermentation and release the bubbles. If dirt forms, remove it, rinse the weight in boiling water and replace the adhesive film. Check for the bubbles over the cabbage and maybe some foam on the brine. It is important to keep it at an even and cool room temperature: too cold and the yeast will last longer than you would like, too hot, and the cabbage may mold or ferment too quickly, which will lead to a less perfect result.
The longer the fermentation will ferment, the longer it will ferment, so taste it again and again. If you like the taste, transfer it to smaller sterilized containers. Lasts up to six months in the refrigerator.
If you are unable to catch up with your daily routine, then you can get one from the market. Sauerkraut is light on your pockets as compared to other probiotic supplements. Many reputed brands are now producing naturally fermented Sauerkraut now that can be found in the refrigerator section of your grocery store.
How to Buy the Best Sauerkraut from the Market?
Not everything you see on store shelves is packed with nutrients. If a sauerkraut product contains vinegar and is pasteurized, it offers no probiotic benefits. Useful bacteria are reflected by the high heat during the pasteurization process. You need to make sure you invest your hard-earned money in the right place.
- Check if it needs to be refrigerated. Raw cabbage is alive and must be kept cool to stabilize its structure and taste.
- Check the label. You should see prominent representations of words like "raw," "unpasteurized," or "live probiotics."
- Look at the ingredients used. Only cabbage and other vegetables and spices, salt, and possibly a starter crop should be listed, but no vinegar. Vinegar is used in commercially processed cabbage to give it an acidic touch that is created during the fermentation process of naturally fermented cabbage.
- Check for preservatives. Many store-bought sauerkraut brands contain preservatives that can reduce the number of probiotics.
- Check for added sugars. Sauerkraut should only contain two basic ingredients: cabbage and salt. Some varieties may add other vegetables as well, but avoid those that add sugar or anything else to the mixture.
What Else? (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. How much Sauerkraut should you eat a day?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recommends limiting the daily consumption of Sauerkraut to 7-10g per day. For best weight loss results, it is recommended that you maintain a probiotic intake of between 7 and 14 g of unpasteurized cabbage per day. Consuming at least 10g of unpasteurized cabbage for at least six weeks provides enough probiotics to change your gut bio and help you with irritable bowel syndrome.
2. What probiotic strains are found in Sauerkraut?
There are three main types of lactic acid bacteria in cabbage, namely Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus Brevis, Lactobacillus Plantarum. However, Sauerkraut may also contain other species in different concentrations depending on the fermentation method and when the Sauerkraut was left to ferment. Each batch of kale can contain different types of gut-friendly probiotics in different proportions, so your kale is a unique fermented food every time you get a new one.
3. How can I eat Sauerkraut?
It's really versatile when you realize it's made with plain cabbage! Serve a teaspoon with pork or sausages or on croutons with avocado. If you want to eat a hot dog, garnish it with kale, mustard, and fresh onions. Add the vegetable soup to a bowl. You can eat it as a spice or supplement it with poached eggs. You can also add it on top of avocado toast, sprinkle it with crispy salad, or add it to tacos.
4. Is Sauerkraut high in salt?
A store-bought cup of Sauerkraut can contain up to 900 milligrams of sodium in one cup. Be careful when shopping and check the sodium content. In Sauerkraut, of course, salt is needed. Without it, the beneficial bacteria would not grow, but the bacteria that are harmful to you would.
5. How long can I store Sauerkraut?
You can expect your cabbage to last up to a year - or longer - if you keep it fresh. Once opened, keep it covered with brine by pushing the fork down. If your cabbage is a little dry, add more brine from time to time for a long time.
6. Is there a difference between naturally-fermented Sauerkraut and one found in stores?
Sauerkraut is preserved with lactic acid. Bacteria from naturally during this fermentation process. This cabbage is full of beneficial enzymes and bacteria that support your healthy life.
However, what you find in stores is pasteurized contains vinegar, monosodium glutamate, soy protein isolate, or preservatives. Foods produced in this way contain all their natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria, but they are not alive. Therefore, they have a long shelf life and don't need to be refrigerated, but they don't offer the health benefits of naturally fermented cabbage.
7. Does Sauerkraut contain vinegar?
Traditional methods of making cabbage doesn't include vinegar. I know the extra tart flavor of the dish may feel like it's there, but it's the salt in the recipe that makes the brine. The brine adds flavor.