If sauerkraut makes you think of folk dresses, leather lederhosens, and beer steins, you’re not alone!
But, were the Germans on to something with this stinky sauerkraut invention? In this blog, we’ll discuss the health benefits of sauerkraut, recipes, and how to include it in your meals and snacks.
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a German word which translates into “sour cabbage.” Indeed, sauerkraut has a sour flavor and a distinct odor thanks to the fermentation (or pickling) process. When you mix thinly sliced cabbage with salt in a closed jar, natural bacteria begin to “eat” the sugars present in the cabbage. These bacteria produce lactic acid as a byproduct. This fermentation process also produces beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics.
Although sauerkraut is a German word, some historians believe sauerkraut actually originated from China as early as 2,000 years ago.
Nutritional Profile of Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut contains many nutrients for optimal health.
One cup of sauerkraut contains approximately (1):
Calories: 27 calories
Net Carbs: 2 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Vitamin C: 35% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
Vitamin K: 21% of the RDI
Folate: 12% of the RDI
Iron: 11% of the RDI
Sauerkraut is low in calories but rich in many nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and iron. Additionally, sauerkraut is rich in fiber and only provides 2 grams of net carbs in a full cup serving!
Health Benefits of Sauerkraut: Probiotics
Your digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome. Some bacteria are friendly and beneficial to your health. Some are neutral. And some bacteria are harmful (especially in times of overgrowth).
The gut microbiome has an enormous impact on your overall health. Research now shows us that gut bacteria can affect: brain function, skin health, and immune system strength. Here at the 131 Method, we support the research that proves the health of your gut is fundamental to your overall health! You need to heal the gut if you want to find true, whole-body health.
While gut health is multifaceted, one crucial aspect involves maintaining an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. The health benefits of sauerkraut help create this balance!
Probiotics found in sauerkraut provide many health benefits to your overall microbiome. We must consume sources of fermented foods regularly to keep this bacterial balance in check.
Regularly eating fermented foods, like sauerkraut, may promote weight loss when combined with other nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Studies have shown that participants given probiotic-rich foods or supplements lost more weight than those given a placebo. These probiotics may also promote fat loss (belly fat, in particular) and weight loss maintenance (2).
Your gut health plays a large role in the health of your skin! Some studies show that consuming fermented foods and probiotics may help treat skin conditions like acne, eczema, and dermatitis (3, 4).
How to Make Sauerkraut at Home
Sauerkraut is very easy to make at home and can save you loads of money!
Making sauerkraut at home requires minimal ingredients: cabbage, salt, and a wide-mouth glass jar.
If purchasing sauerkraut at the store, avoid pasteurized varieties because this pasteurization process kills the beneficial bacteria in the sauerkraut. Note: most canned sauerkraut is pasteurized! Check in the refrigerated section for an unpasteurized sauerkraut variety, which may also be labeled as “raw sauerkraut.”
Many sauerkraut brands now offer different flavors of sauerkraut too! Here are a few sauerkraut brands we love:
WildBrine – often found in Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and Costco
Trader Joe’s – Sauerkraut with Pickled Persian Cucumbers
Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
How to Add Sauerkraut to Meals and Snacks
Acquiring a taste for sauerkraut may take some experimenting and multiple exposures. Here are a few ways to add this fermented beauty to your meals to reap all of the health benefits:
- Add sauerkraut to your eggs in the morning
- Mix sauerkraut into a tossed salad
- Top a seed-based cracker with sauerkraut for a crunchy snack
- Add a tablespoon of sauerkraut to your hamburger or Vegan Carrot Walnut Burgers
- Top a stuffed avocado – like this Grilled Avocado with BBQ Tempeh
- Stir a bit into creamy pasta dishes
- Throw it into a Low Carb Wrap
Note: avoid cooking sauerkraut as this destroys the beneficial bacteria!
Whenever introducing a fermented food into your diet, start slow! Eating too much sauerkraut (or other fermented foods) at one time may cause bloating. We recommend starting with one tablespoon of sauerkraut at a time. Even this small amount provides loads of beneficial probiotics!
Have you experienced any health benefits of sauerkraut or fermented foods? Share your experience below in the comments!