The benefits of Sauerkraut are not far-fetched from its probiotic-rich composition. As a fermented cabbage that has been enjoyed for centuries for its delicious flavor and gut-promoting properties. It has other nutrients that are immune boosters, which also lower risk of the cancer and other health benefits.
Despite all these benefits sauerkraut contain histamine, which could cause food allergies . Similarly, the presence of tyramine in sauerkraut has equally been noted, this compound may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) .
This article considers the 9 health benefits of Sauerkraut, its nutrients, how it is and can be made, and its side effects.
History and Origin
Sauerkraut is thought to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago . It was brought to Europe by the Mongols in the 13th century, and it quickly became a popular food in Germany, where it is still known as “sauerkraut” today.
Active Probiotics in Sauerkraut
- Lactobacillus sakei
- L. Plantarum
- Candidatus accumulibacter phosphatis Thermatoga spp.
- Pseudomonas rhizosphaerae,
- L. hokkaidonensis
- L. rhamnosus
- Leuconostoc carnosum
- Clostridium saccharobutyrilicum
- Rahnella aquatics
- Citrobacter freundii
- Enterobacter cloacae
- Bifidobacterium dentium.
The probiotics in Sauerkraut play a tremendous role to improve our health. For example, these probiotics can help prevent or reduce diarrhea, and digestive symptoms such as inflammatory bowel disease [4, 5]. But more research is needed .
How Is Sauerkraut Made?
Sauerkraut is made by salting shredded cabbage and allowing it to ferment. The salt draws out water from the cabbage, which creates an environment where beneficial bacteria can thrive. These bacteria produce lactic acid , which gives sauerkraut its sour taste and preserves it.
Sauerkraut Health Benefits
It is packed with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, and has been linked to several health benefits, detailed below.
- Sauerkraut promotes healthy gut flora
- Support immune system
- Promotes weight loss
- Help Improve mood and enhance memory
- lowers the risk of cancer
- Lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease
- Promotes stronger bones
1. Sauerkraut promotes healthy gut flora
As a fermented cabbage that has been enjoyed for centuries for its delicious flavor and health benefits. The fermentation process produces beneficial bacteria that can support gut health, improve digestion, boost the immune system, and protect against inflammatory bowel disease .
2. Support the immune system
These nutrients can help to improve the balance of bacteria in the gut , boost the production of natural antibodies , and protect the body from damage. Regularly consuming sauerkraut may help to reduce the risk of developing infections  like urinary tract infections  and it also promotes quicker recovery .
3. Promotes weight loss
Sauerkraut is a low-calorie, high-fiber food that may help with weight loss as it can help you feel full  and less hungry. This may lead to eating fewer calories overall. Sauerkraut also contains probiotics, which may help reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs . However, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of sauerkraut for weight loss.
4. Help Improve mood and enhance memory
Science has linked gut health to brain health . Healthy gut bacteria can produce chemicals that improve mood, and memory, and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, autism, and OCD . Fermented foods like sauerkraut can help improve gut health by increasing the absorption of mood-regulating minerals . However, people taking MAOIs should consult a healthcare professional before adding sauerkraut to their diet as there might be drug interactions .
5. Lowers risk of certain cancers
Cabbage and sauerkraut may help reduce the risk of cancer . Cabbage a major composition of this food contains antioxidants and other plant compounds that may suppress the growth of precancerous cells. The fermentation process used to make sauerkraut may also create additional cancer-fighting compounds . Some studies have found that eating cabbage and sauerkraut may be linked to a reduced risk of breast, colon, liver, pancreatic [25, 26, 27], prostate, and gastrointestinal cancers . However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
6. Lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage that is rich in fiber and probiotics , including vitamin K2. These nutrients may help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and prevent calcium deposits from accumulating in the arteries, all of which can help improve heart health.
The rich fiber nature of Sauerkraut makes it helpful in lowering cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids in the digestive tract. Bile acids are made from cholesterol, so when they are bound to fiber, they are removed from the body.
It has probiotics and live bacteria that are beneficial for the gut. They can help lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels .
7. Good for stronger bone
Sauerkraut is a good source of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is a nutrient that helps to keep calcium in bones and out of arteries by activating a protein that binds to calcium . This is important for bone health, as calcium is the main mineral found in bones.
Studies have shown that vitamin K2 may benefit bone health [34, 35, 36, 37]. However, it is unclear whether the amount of vitamin K2 in sauerkraut is enough to provide a significant benefit. More research is needed.
- Ukazi leaf benefits on fertility & Side Effects
- Impressive fertility benefits of Jute leaf (Ewedu leaves)
Sauerkraut side effects
Although this food is promisingly rich in health-boosting nutrients However, sauerkraut can also have some potential side effects, especially if consumed in excess or by people who are not used to fermented foods.
Some studies have pointed out the possibility of sauerkraut to cause allergic reactions in some cases and may interact with certain drugs .
Sauerkraut contains a compound known as tyramine, which may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs play an important role in the treatment of depression, and anxiety disorders because they inhibit the activities of Monoamine oxidase. However, experts have also cautioned that tyramine diets should be avoided when taking MAOI drugs . Other side effects can include:
- Gas and bloating
- Stomach upset
If you experience any of these side effects after eating sauerkraut, it is best to reduce your intake or stop eating it altogether.
It is also important to note that sauerkraut can contain high levels of sodium, so it is important to moderate your intake if you are on a low-sodium diet.
How to Make Sauerkraut
Making sauerkraut is easy and can be done at home. Here is a basic recipe.
1 head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whey (optional)
- Combine the cabbage and salt in a large bowl.
- Massage the cabbage and salt together until the cabbage is soft and the salt has dissolved.
- Pack the cabbage into a clean jar, leaving 1-2 inches of headspace.
- If using whey, pour it over the cabbage.
- Weight the cabbage down with a clean plate or weight to keep it submerged.
- Seal the jar and let it ferment in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks.
Once the sauerkraut is finished fermenting, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Sauerkraut is a delicious and nutritious food that can offer a variety of health benefits. If you’re looking for a way to improve your gut health, boost your immune system, or lose weight, sauerkraut is a great option.
Here are some additional tips for making and enjoying sauerkraut:
- Use organic cabbage if possible.
- Use non-iodized salt.
- Don’t overpack the jar.
- Keep the sauerkraut submerged in the liquid.
- Ferment the sauerkraut in a cool, dark place.
- Taste the sauerkraut regularly and remove any pieces that are too sour.
- Sauerkraut can be eaten on its own, added to salads, or used in sandwiches and other dishes.
Sauerkraut is a delicious and healthy food that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. So next time you’re looking for a way to improve your health, reach for some sauerkraut
Overall, sauerkraut is a healthy food that can offer many benefits. However, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and to consume it in moderation.
JC is passionate about finding the impact of foods (feeding habits) on human fertility and reproductive health and a way to improve fertility.