10 Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage with major health benefits.
The word sauerkraut translates in English to “sour cabbage”. It’s used to describe a naturally fermented form of the vegetable.
The fermentation process keeps bacteria from growing on the cabbage, which allows sauerkraut to stay fresh longer and gives it its distinct sour taste.
In addition to being delicious, sauerkraut is also full of nutrition. It is a very good source of important vitamins and minerals and it is also low in calories and high in fiber.
Its nutritious content means that it offers various health benefits to those that eat it.
Ten of these health benefits are discussed below.
1. Improves digestion
Sauerkraut is an excellent source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns into a gel-like substance during digestion, which is digested by the bacteria in the large intestines. Sauerkraut also introduces healthy bacteria to the gut.
This is beneficial because studies suggest that imbalances in the gut might increase the risk of developing various diseases. Beneficial microorganisms from probiotic foods, like sauerkraut, can have significant health benefits. They can reduce overall inflammation, improve digestive diseases like leaky gut syndrome and ulcerative colitis as well as prevent and treat diarrhea. Probiotics can decrease bloating, food sensitivities and also increase the absorption of nutrients.
Sauerkraut contains 35% of the RDA of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with the production of white blood cells. It plays a crucial role in collagen formation, so it’s foundational
2. Boosts the immune system
Sauerkraut contains 35% of the RDA of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with the production of white blood cells. It plays a crucial role in collagen formation, so it’s foundational to the health of the skin, hair, organs, bones, blood vessels and muscles.
The immune system affects what happens in the gut. Healthy gut flora and plenty of beneficial microbes not only support digestion but also play a large part in the overall state of the body’s immune system. When the immune system is functioning correctly, many health problems can be resolved or prevented.
3. Fights cancer
Research seems to indicate that the process of fermentation adds to existing cancer-fighting properties of cabbage.
A Finnish study found that through the fermentation process, a substance was produced that inhibited the growth of cancerous cells. The lactic acid bacteria present in sauerkraut possess many therapeutic effects, including having anti-cancer properties. They may help with various types of cancers such as mouth, throat and stomach cancers. The beta-carotene found in cabbage is also known as a cancer-fighting compound.
4. Increases energy levels
The iron present in sauerkraut is necessary for increasing energy levels. Iron encourages the production of hemoglobin. The hemoglobin is essential for transporting oxygen which is crucial for health. The sauerkraut also contains vitamin C which aids in the absorption of iron. Iron increases metabolism and is necessary for blood circulation and improving oxygenation of the cells. Without iron, anemia can result. The side effects associated with anemia are headaches, cognitive impairment, and fatigue.
5. Stronger Bones
The wide range of minerals and vitamins present in sauerkraut help build healthy bones.
A cup of sauerkraut is enough to give you 23% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin K and 35% of the RDA of Vitamin C. Calcium and phosphorus are necessary to form bone and Vitamin K assists because it produces the proteins that regulate mineralization of the bones.
A deficiency of Vitamin K poses a higher threat to developing hip fractures and other injuries to bones. Eating sauerkraut may be a beneficial addition to your diet, especially if you have osteoporosis.
6. Heart health
The probiotics in sauerkraut may lower the risks of LDL cholesterol and in turn prevent strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular issues. Meanwhile, the Vitamin C found in sauerkraut can also help to fight heart disease and strokes. Sauerkraut being an excellent source of soluble fiber also means it is beneficial for heart health. The fiber binds with fats and cholesterol and removes them from your body. Cholesterol levels in the body stay normal, and the risks of atherosclerosis, stroke and other heart issues decrease.
Traditionally raw cabbage juice was used to heal peptic ulcers. Studies have backed up the effectiveness of raw cabbage juice in normalizing the function of the digestive tract. The glutamine that is present in sauerkraut has a positive effect on the healing of the digestive tract.
8. Improves eye health
Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts affect people as they get older and are common causes of blindness. A diet rich in anti-oxidants can eliminate dangerous free radicals that cause healthy cells to mutate. Sauerkraut is an excellent source of antioxidants. Lutein and zeaxanthin are essential carotenoids found in cabbage and other green leafy vegetables.
They are vital for eye health because they are both located in the macula – lutein is in the macular pigment and zeaxanthin is found in your retina, and they help to protect central vision.
9. Skin health
The Vitamin A in sauerkraut plays an important part in maintaining skin health. Antioxidants play a significant role in skin health and the way the body responds to the aging process because of their free radical neutralizing capabilities. The Vitamin C in sauerkraut is foundational in making collagen which is very important to keep the skin from becoming dry and wrinkled. Free radicals are often the underlying cause of skin spots, discoloration, wrinkles, and other conditions. A diet rich in antioxidants keeps you feeling healthy and looking younger for longer.
10. Anti-inflammatory qualities
Sometimes the body starts to attack its tissues because it believes it is reacting to an invader. This is also known as inflammation, what takes place when you have an autoimmune disease. Cabbage contains glutamine which is a compound with strong anti-inflammatory qualities. It can help with many types of inflammation. Studies suggest that the probiotics in sauerkraut can increase what is known as ‘natural killer cells’ that control the pathways of inflammation. Thus, reducing inflammation in joints and muscles and relieving pain and discomfort.
Bonus: 11. Sauerkraut may help you lose weight
Because of the fiber in sauerkraut, the digestion process is slowed down. This may help you with weight loss, if that is your goal. You feel full when you eat fiber-filled food, so there is less snacking.