Sauerkraut is essentially fermented cabbage. Fermentation is a method of preserving food that dates back more than 2,000 years. During the fermentation process, beneficial probiotics, or ‘live bacteria’, are produced, and these probiotics are what give sauerkraut most of its health benefits.
Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fibre and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
What are the health benefits of sauerkraut?
The beneficial probiotics found in sauerkraut are important for good digestive health, and whilst more research is needed into the exact types of beneficial bacteria found in sauerkraut and other fermented foods, we do know that they ‘feed’ the good bacteria in your gut and can help to combat inflammation.
Research has shown that probiotics help to reduce some digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation and may be beneficial to those suffering with conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
There is increasing research on the importance of good gut bacteria in supporting overall long-term health, including how probiotics from cultured foods such as sauerkraut may reduce your risk of conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s.
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.
Can sauerkraut help to support your immune system?
Most of our immune system is found in our gut, so with its gut-boosting properties it’s easy to see how sauerkraut can also be of benefit to your 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 and thereby causing an immune response. These same bacteria may also support your natural antibodies and reduce your risk of infections.
Can sauerkraut help with weight loss?
Some research has shown that consuming probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut can reduce your risk of obesity and aid weight loss, although more research needs to be done in this area. Sauerkraut is a good source of fibre which helps to keep you fuller for longer.
What about the salt content in sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is high in sodium. Just one ½ cup/50g serving will provide approximately a third of your RDA sodium intake for a UK adult, so keep an eye on your salt intake if you add sauerkraut to your diet.
This blog was written for BBC Good Food