Updated: Nov 24, 2018
Did you know that you can use Sauerkraut for health benefits? People have been making Sauerkraut for thousands of years because of the health benefits of fermented vegetables. Research shows that Sauerkraut can help you in many ways, and it actually tastes good too. It is always best to make your own Sauerkraut, however if you don't have the time do your research and make sure you buy a brand that is organic and has no nasties added to it. Also remember Sauerkraut is high in salt, however it's the good salt i.e. sea and Himalayan, not the commercial bought salt.
To make your own sauerkraut for health benefits try this recipe:
You can use both red or green cabbage.
1-3 TBL Salt (not table salt use Himalayan pink salt or sea salt)
Sterilised glass jars with airlock lids
Slice the cabbage thinly and rub salt into the sliced cabbage. Keep one large leaf of the cabbage for the fermenting process.
Pound the cabbage for about ten minutes or until you see the juice form a brine and completely cover the cabbage (you can use a potato masher)
Place the cabbage and juice into the jars
Cut a circle out of your cabbage leaf to cover the mixture in the jar - this will help it stay submerged in the water. You will need to place a weight on top of the cabbage leaf to keep it weighted down. Remember to sterilize the weight
Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar
Over the next few days press the cabbage mixture down
If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage. Do this for at about 2 weeks at room temperature until you are happy with the flavour
Once finished secure with a tight lid and store in the fridge. When opening release the lid slowly!
As your sauerkraut ferments a microbial process creates lactic acid and probiotics (the good gut bacteria). Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation, in other words healthy bacteria (the same in yoghurt and other cultured products) is present on the surface of the cabbage and when submerged in brine, the bacteria start converting sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. This natural preservative stops the growth of harmful bacteria.
As someone who has had Crohn's Disease for nearly twenty years I know that keeping your gut healthy with probiotics is an important part of keeping well. Sauerkraut is full of probiotics. I keep a jar in the fridge and use it as a side dish (don't heat it), or just have a couple of tablespoons as a snack. Sometimes I even have some before breakfast because it feels so cleansing. Whilst I am talking about breakfast, the first thing I do in the morning is have a drink of salt sole then I have a couple of spoonfuls of Sauerkraut. It's a good start to the day before I put anything else into my body.
A healthy diet that consists of salads, fish and vegetables will help your immune system.
GOOD BACTERIA V BAD BACTERIA
Sauerkraut contains probiotics, which include live bacteria. Now this might sound terrible but in fact it's really good. These good bacteria can actually stop the growth of bad bacteria in your gut. This can aid in digestion, improve overall gut health, and relieve symptoms of an upset stomach as well as other bowel problems. Crohn's Disease is an autoimmune disease (our body is fighting itself) so good gut health can assist to improve your immune system.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF SAUERKRAUT
Sauerkraut is high in fibre which can help reduce the risk of heart disease by bonding together with cholesterol and fat in the body and then eliminating out of the body. The fermented vegetable also contains vitamin C, K and iron which helps increase energy.
High amounts of fibre in sauerkraut can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol (1).
Not only does sauerkraut have fibre, but also vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron. These vitamins together increase energy levels, reduce the risk of developing anemia, and build strong bones.
Studies show that the compounds in sauerkraut can help prevent cancer due to the number of glucosinates. Some even believe that Sauerkraut can even cure cancer however there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. (2)
Probiotics help absorb vitamins and other nutrients. Beneficial bacteria are available in supplement form and in fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchee, Kombucha, sauerkraut and yogurt.
Sauerkraut can also help boost immunity and this is very good for those of us with autoimmune diseases.
If you are on an anti-inflammatory diet then you probably already know that probiotics can help with inflammation. Crohn's Disease is inflammation of the bowel and it can be an extremely debilitating and painful disease. There is no cure for Crohn's Disease however I have personally found that diet plays a big factor in my own health. My biggest enemy is gluten! Inflammation of the body is not good, so you owe it to yourself to reverse it and stay on an anti inflammatory diet.
This time last year I was told that it looked like I had carcinoid cancer. It was a terrifying month of my life. After numerous tests it was finally revealed that the CT scan that looked like a cancer was in fact, scarring from Crohn's Disease.
Inflammation of the body can lead to premature cellular degeneration. This is why when we get older we can develop diseases such as arthritis. So it makes sense to do whatever you can do to help prevent such disease. Probiotics regulate digestion which helps the skin look healthy and glowing. As I mentioned before, I have a little bit of Sauerkraut on an empty stomach, this way the 'friendly bacteria' will be able to reach their destination within your gut without any obstruction.
Due to the amount of powerful phytochemicals (flavonoids) eating sauerkraut has the potential to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke (3)
In conclusion, Sauerkraut has many health benefits, it is cleansing and a great addition to any anti inflammatory diet.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, health practitioner or nutritionist. This article was written from my personal experiences and through extensive research, please consult with a medical doctor for professional advice.