Fermented foods play an important role in enhancing our livelihood. Vegetables are the most common food group to go through this process, which changes the nature of the food due to various fungal, bacterial or enzymatic activities and helps preserve it. One of the most common vegetables to be fermented is cabbage. It even has its own name. You’ll know it as sauerkraut. Want to know more? Keep reading!
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut, popular in Central Europe, is fermented cabbage. It is considered to be one of the oldest and most common ways to preserve cabbage, having been traced back to the 4th century B.C. Although associated with Germanic and Slavic cultures, it is actually believed to have originated in China, only reaching Europe via the Roman Empire. It was well-loved because it allowed travelers to keep their foods from spoiling on long journeys. A popular side dish or condiment, sauerkraut makes a good addition to hot dogs and sausages.
The fermentation process by which sauerkraut is made is actually the same process by which pickles and kimchi are made. There is no heat involved, as heat may kill the very bacteria that’s needed to ferment. Aside from being a delicious addition to meals, though, sauerkraut is a healthy dietary dish!
Nutritional Value of Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is low in calories but rich in benefits. This anti-inflammatory food offers plenty of probiotics, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Even just a small amount, eaten daily, gives you phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin K. Additionally, the microorganisms from the fermentation process may enhance its digestibility and increase the ease of absorbing nutrients from it. One 1/2-cup serving, or about 75g, of sauerkraut contains:
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin C||11 milligrams||17%|
|Vitamin K||10 micrograms||8%|
|Vitamin B6||.1 milligram||6%|
Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
Here are some of the most surprising health benefits of sauerkraut:
- Helps strengthen bones: the wide-array of minerals in sauerkraut makes it essential in building stronger bones, thus preventing osteoporosis.
- Helps prevent cancer: the antioxidants in sauerkraut are beneficial in getting rid of free radicals. This one of the best health benefits of sauerkraut.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties: the phytonutrient antioxidants in sauerkraut may help reduce inflammation, joint discomfort and muscle pain.
- Helps boost immunity: the vitamin C content of sauerkraut is high, thus making it essential for boosting immunity against various infections and illnesses. Furthermore, vitamin C is also beneficial for producing white blood cells. This increases cell regeneration and reparation.
- Improves skin and eye health: the carotenes and vitamin A in sauerkraut act as antioxidants, essential for improving eye and skin health.
- Helps improve heart health: the probiotics in sauerkraut help reduce bad cholesterol levels.
- Improves digestive health: the fiber in cabbage, the main ingredient in sauerkraut, is beneficial for digestive health. It helps move food through the bowels, eliminating cramping, bloating, constipation and other digestive disorders.