Sauerkraut Health Benefits

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Sauerkraut Quick Facts
Name: Sauerkraut
Origin Eastern Europe
Taste Slightly sour
Calories 27 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Sodium (62.60%)
Iron (26.13%)
Vitamin C (23.22%)
Vitamin K (15.42%)
Copper (15.11%)
Sauerkraut is the well-known lacto fermented vegetable. The finely chopped cabbage salted and fermented in its own juice. Usually it is made by placing salt between layers of chopped cabbage and pressing that helps to bruise the cabbage and squeeze the juice. The surface of the cabbage contains beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus also present in yogurt and various cultured products.

In brine when submerged, the bacteria starts to convert sugars in the cabbage to lactic acid which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. It is also a specialty of Pennsylvania Dutch. American immigrants carried barrels with them on ship as the properties in Sauerkraut helps to combat disease. The cooking is primitive to Southeastern Pennsylvania areas that were settled by Amish and Mennonites.

In China, cooks pickle cabbage in wine and use as an accompaniment to meals. It was Genghis Khan who substituted salt to wine and took sauerkraut to eastern edge of Europe. Sauerkraut tastes slightly sour. It is widely used as a side dish or as condiment in hot dogs and sausages. The fermentation process is complementary to pickles or kimchi which indicates no heat exposure during process as it will destroy bacteria which take part in fermentation.

History

Sauerkraut is endemic to Eastern Europe especially Poland, Germany and Russia where cabbage is known as staple ingredient or quintessential vegetable. In German, sauerkraut means sour cabbage making first way to United States in 1700s. Immigrants to America on ships took sauerkraut on long journeys as the process of fermentation preserved generous amount of harvested cabbage and offer vital nutrients.

Fermentation is a complicated process being practiced for thousands of years in various forms. Fermentation helps to prevent food spoilage. Thousands of years ago, kefir is a cultured dairy product created in Eastern Europe, kimchi is a fermented Korean dish, miso and natto are fermented soy products stemming from Japan. Fermentation is required to make yogurts which has live and active cultures and in the production of wine, beer and some sourdough breads too. Record shows that ancient Chinese populations fermented types of cabbage 2000 years ago.

Why Should Sauerkraut Be Fermented?

For centuries, lacto fermentation has been used for preserving seasonal vegetables beyond its shelf life. Fermentation process is regarded to be safe and reliable and fermented sauerkraut can be preserved at cellar temperature around 55°F for months. The fermentation process adds the taste and provides additional health benefits. Also fermented sauerkraut is packed with healthy probiotics similar to the bowl of yogurt.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

  1. Digestive health

Cabbage has ample fiber content which benefits digestive system. It eases bowel movement and eliminates the chances of flatulence, constipation and excess gas. The fermentation of cabbage results in production of broad bacteria. These bacteria acts as a first line of defense against pathogens that could enter through food we consume. Sauerkraut restores bacterial balance in gut. Probiotic lowers inflammation and eliminate pathogens that could reside within digestive tract and also lower the symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome.

  1. Stronger immunity

About 75% of the immune system relies on integrity of gut. Probiotics present in Sauerkraut controls inflammation and inhibit immune reactions which are the major cause for various health ailments. It forms stronger stomach lining for preventing unwanted substances from leaking into the body. Along with preventing bacterial manifestation, healthy gut flora assists in production of antibodies. In addition, it contains Vitamin C which is must for immune health.

  1. Cardiovascular health

Fiber is an imperative nutrient for heart health as well as digestive health. It excludes fatty deposits within artery walls consequently lowers atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks and other heart ailments. A serving size of 100 grams grants 6.6 mcg menaquinone minimizing heart problems by preventing deposits of calcium in the arteries.

  1. Helpful for asthma

Asthma is an allergic reaction exhibited on respiratory system. Sauerkraut has anti-inflammatory properties which help to lower asthma attacks and treat the condition.

  1. Upgrade energy

Presence of iron supports the production of energy by upgrading metabolism as well as oxygenation of cells and organs. Adequate iron levels prevent anemia and also its side effects such as fatigue, headaches and painful cramps during menstruation.

  1. Bone intensification

Sour cabbage has menaquinone (Vitamin K) contributing healthy bones. It forms proteins which simplify mineralization of bones and calcium absorption. Furthermore, it has Vitamin C playing a vital role in bone health which creates with strands of collagen. Combination of minerals and collagen forms a skeletal frame which can withstand impact.

  1. Improves memory

Digestive system and brain are interrelated. The foods we consume have an impact on brain functions. Intake of probiotic rich foods improves healthy gut flora which shows positive effects on brain. The communication exists through vagus nerve affecting good bacteria present in gut. Moreover, probiotics sharpens the memory.

  1. Combat stress

Sauerkraut encompasses probiotics that helps to provide relief from depression, anxiety and lowers the chances of obsessive compulsive responses. Besides formation of healthy gut flora, the absorption of mood regulating minerals such as zinc and magnesium helps to combat stress.

  1. Lose weight

Intake of Sauerkraut hinders food cravings. Study has shown that people with probiotic rich diet lowers the chances of obesity. Since sauerkraut has high content of fiber and low calories, it fills the stomach offering adequate nutrition and prevents frequent snacking.

  1. Skin and eye health

Sauerkraut has vitamin A, an antioxiant which wipes out free radicals from the body and prevents the chances of premature aging. Similarly, Vitamin A is imperative to maintain eye health and lowers the chances of macular degeneration and cataracts.

  1. Anti-inflammation

Inflammation means the response of the body to harmful stimuli. White blood cells are discharged into the affected tissues in order to prevent body from foreign invaders, when inflammation occurs. Inflammation is regarded as the major cause for diseases. When triggered by autoimmunity, inflammation does more harm than good. Probiotics in Sauerkraut helps to regulate damaged cells controlling body’s inflammatory pathways and prevents unnecessary symptoms as well as chronic diseases.

  1. Prevention of scurvy

Sauerkraut possesses immune boosting probiotics and Vitamin C, an antioxidant effective against flu, common cold and fever. Vitamin C promotes immune system and also maintains healthy gums. Addition of foods rich in probiotics speeds up recovering process and minimizes being prone to illness in the future.

Culinary uses

  • In countries such as Belarusian, Azerbaijani, Baltic, Polish and Russian country, chopped cabbage is pickled with shredded carrots.
  • Use it as a filling for Ukrainian varenyky, Polish pierogi, Russian pirogi and pirozhki.
  • Soups such as shchi, zelnacka, kapustnica and kwasnica use sauerkraut as an essential ingredient.
  • In Germany, juniper berries, white or apple wine and caraway seeds are flavored with sauerkraut.
  • Serve with pork, sausages accompanied by steamed or roasted potatoes or dumplings.
  • Vepro knedlo zelo dish comprises of roast pork with sauerkraut and kendliky.
  • In Maryland, Thanksgiving turkey is accompanied by sauerkraut.

Side effects

Its excessive intake results flatulence and bloating due to trisaccharide raffinose which small intestines of human can’t break down.

How to make sauerkraut at home?

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg green or white cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons coarse crystal sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns

Instructions:

  • Cut the cabbage into tiny pieces.
  • Put the cabbage leaflets in order in tub or bowl and sprinkle salt.
  • Mix the salt into cabbage completely.
  • The volume of cabbage must have reduced remained in its own brine.
  • Combine peppercorns and caraway seeds. Cover the cabbage’s surface with a sheet of cling film and press the air bubbles from below.
  • With the use of heavy plates, weigh cabbage down or weights which fits the bowl and cover much cabbage as possible.
  • One can notice brine levels increasing to cover the cabbage.
  • With the use of lid, cover the tub and let it be in a dark place as cool room temperature for about 5 days.
  • It should be ready after five days. In order to get maximum flavor, let the cabbage to ferment for 2 to 6 weeks or till bubbling subsides.
  • Longer the cabbage is fermented, it will possess a sour taste.
  • Transfer it to small sterilized jars and it can be refrigerated for 6 months.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut

https://whatscookingamerica.net/sauerkraut.htm

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/sauerkraut.html

https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-health-benefits-and-uses-of-sauerkraut/#gref

https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/13-benefits-sauerkraut/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-sauerkraut

https://draxe.com/sauerkraut/

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