Many have looked at sauerkraut and either didn’t know where it came from or noted that it doesn’t look particularly delicious. At least, that’s the notion here in the United States (where it was first known as Liberty Cabbage), but in Europe, sauerkraut is very popular. If you didn’t know, sauerkraut is actually cabbage that was cut into shreds and then fermented in lactic acid. Because there was no refrigeration back when it was invented, it made for an easier way to transport cabbage and gave it a unique taste.
Since then, sauerkraut has been a common topping or side dish on a lot of foods from sandwiches to salads. Though sauerkraut doesn’t look all that nutritious because of the color that differs from cabbage, it does have a lot of the same benefits. There are plenty of ways that sauerkraut can help your overall health. Let’s take a look at some of those proven health benefits while also breaking down the nutritional content.
Nutrition of Sauerkraut
Since a lot of people don’t think of sauerkraut as cabbage, they don’t realize that the nutrition values are pretty equal. In one cup of sauerkraut, you are only getting around 30 calories while still getting 1.3 grams of protein and 14 percent of your recommended amount of dietary fiber. Sauerkraut also has some very important vitamins, bringing you 35 percent of your vitamin C recommendation and 23 percent of your vitamin K needs.
Sauerkraut is also a significant source of folate and vitamin B6 while having other vitamins in lower amounts. In terms of minerals, sauerkraut contains more than 10 percent of your recommended amounts of iron, sodium and manganese. Other minerals that come in at around five percent of your recommended values include copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. For good measure, you’re even getting 35.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you read our site, you probably already know about the wonder that is fiber. Just to reiterate, fiber is the best thing that you can do for your digestive system, and sauerkraut has plenty of it. Keeping a healthy amount of fiber in your body makes for a more efficient digestive process that avoids many different problems. Disorders such as gas, constipation or diarrhea can normally be solved solely through increased fiber intake.
While sauerkraut helps you in the short term, it also helps in the long run. An increased amount of fiber and healthier digestive system can help you avoid anything from Crohn’s disease to colon cancer. Sauerkraut alone has more than two dozen bacteria strains that are unique to this type of food. You’ll be more regular from eating sauerkraut, and just feel better in general.
Of course, with an improved digestive system, your body is going to be using food more efficiently. This will provide you with a metabolism boost that you sorely need if you’re trying to drop a few pounds. Sauerkraut brings the fiber to the table, while also being tremendously low in calories. You can eat a lot of sauerkraut (17.4 cups to be exact) before you get the same amount of calories that you would from a Big Mac at McDonald’s.
The fiber in sauerkraut also helps you feel more full for a longer period of time, allowing you to prevent overeating. All in all, the probiotics found in sauerkraut are going to enhance your energy, increase your metabolism and even help you burn belly fat. For those of us that have ever been on a diet (even a successful one), you know that getting rid of the midsection fat is the hardest.
You might not think of sauerkraut as being a big brain food, but let it be known that it can really help. Sauerkraut is a tremendous source of iron that allows for a better oxygen flow in the bloodstream. Getting more iron into your system allows your brain to function more properly, and even give you an energy boost thanks to the extra oxygen.
The probiotics in sauerkraut also have an effect on your brain, as the increased amount of amino and fatty acids help your body to release hormones that can manage stress. Fatigue is a big problem when you aren’t getting enough fiber in your system, so you really have to watch how much you’re eating. For those that have trouble sleeping at night, the hormones that will be produced more efficiently when eating sauerkraut can even help you fall asleep and stay asleep like a dosage of melatonin would.
While you might be craving citrus more than you would sauerkraut when you are going through the common cold, you can go in either direction. Since sauerkraut has more than a third of your recommended vitamin C intake, you are going to be boosting your immune system to help you avoid illness and recover faster. Since sauerkraut also has anti-inflammatory properties, you can reduce some of the pains associated with illness from fever to achy joints.
There has even been some research that sauerkraut can help you prevent certain types of cancers. The food contains many antioxidants that can fight off free radicals, which are the source of cancer cells and other chronic diseases. Combined with the fact that sauerkraut is heart healthy, you might feel like a superhero from this surprisingly healthy food.
Bones, Skin and Eyes
Vitamin C isn’t the only nutrient that is ever present in sauerkraut, as there is also a significant amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A alone can reduce your chances of getting vision problems as you age, including macular degeneration. That’s the same vitamin that your skin needs to maintain its complexion and recover from blemishes and sun damage. Finally, sauerkraut contains a healthy amount of vitamin K that is an underrated nutrient that helps build strong bones. Our eyes, hair, skin and bones always seem like the first things that get affected by aging, and you can help all of them with more sauerkraut.
Summing it Up
Sauerkraut is great in the fact that it has more taste than cabbage, but you’ll certainly want to mix both of them into your diet, with cabbage being the more common of the two. Sauerkraut does contain a lot of sodium because of how it’s prepared, so those that are trying to watch their salt intake will want to limit sauerkraut. This is especially true if you have kidney issues or high blood pressure. There are lower sodium versions of sauerkraut available now, though, thanks to modern science and food packaging.
If you are eating too much sauerkraut, you might experience some intestinal discomfort, as well, which can include cramps, diarrhea and constipation. As long as you are making sauerkraut part of a balanced diet, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of those issues. Since your chances of any side effects are incredibly low, go ahead and enjoy some sauerkraut today.