When it comes to probiotics, most people think of pills or yogurt, but there are many other foods that have just as many benefits in terms of boosting digestion.
Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, are no exceptions. Homemade sauerkraut can do a lot for your body.
Although you may think of sauerkraut as a hot dog topping, it’s actually a full-fledged health food. In fact, the sour substance can actually help promote digestive health, weight loss and cardiovascular health.
1. High Nutritional Value
Homemade sauerkraut is full of vitamins and nutrients that promote better overall health (1).
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It’s high in vitamin C, which is important in the upkeep of skin, tendon, ligaments and blood vessels as well as the maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth. It also helps wound healing, scar tissue formation and iron absorption (2).
Additionally, it contains vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clot formation and bone density (3).
2. Weight loss
Sauerkraut is high in fiber, which means it’s incredibly filling and can help regulate an unruly appetite. Like all fermented foods, sauerkraut contains lots of beneficial bacteria which boost immune function, maintain bacterial balance, help digest food and promote nutrient absorption.
Fermented foods even play a role in preventing obesity. In fact, healthy babies have twice the bifidobacteria count as those who will become overweight or obese in childhood or later in in life. These beneficial bacteria are believed to be introduced through breastfeeding (4).
Introducing more fermented foods also has benefits later in life : A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women who regularly took Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria lost nearly twice as much weight than women following the same diet without taking probiotics. This occurred because probiotics altered the permeability of the intestinal wall to prevent pro-inflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream (5).
3. Prevents Cancer
The fermentation process produces compounds that fight cancers, like isothiocyanates (or ITCs), indoles, and sulforaphane. Plus, it boosts your immune system natural ability to fight the disease (6). If that wasn’t enough, fermented foods also work by reducing cancer-promoting inflammation throughout the body.
Additionally, its high fiber content contributes towards intestinal health and helps prevent colon cancer.
4. Promotes Heart Health
Homemade sauerkraut promotes a healthy cardiovascular system thanks to its high fiber content, which binds to cholesterol to help expel it from your body, lowers blood pressure and lowers blood sugar. These mechanisms work together to prevent heart attack, stroke and diabetes(7,8).
Its phytonutrients also promote blood flow and keep you blood vessel healthy and flexible.
How To Make Sauerkraut
This recipe makes about a gallon of homemade sauerkraut and takes a bout 20 minutes to prepare. However, the fermentation takes up to 6 months. Although you can cook it before consuming, it’s best to eat it raw to get its full benefits.
- 2 large, green cabbages
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined sea salt
- 1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
- Wash and dry the cabbage, then remove its core.
- Use a food processor to shred it into fine pieces.
- Toss the cabbage into a large bowl and add the salt.
- Knead the mixture together to make sure the cabbage is well covered.
- Quickly pack the cabbage into a large glass jar and use a wooden spoon to pack it down.
- Continue add and packing the cabbage until your jar is full and the substance is fully submerged in juice. This will prevent it from being contaminated with airborne yeast, mold or bacteria.
- Screw on the lid loosely and let it ferment for 1-6 months. Once ready, it will keep in your refrigerator for up to 6 months.