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Veggie Ovation for Sauerkraut (Fermented Cabbage)

Updated on May 9, 2012

I have always liked sauerkraut but until recently, hardly ever ate it except on a rare hot dog or an even rarer Reuben sandwich. I never thought about eating sauerkraut as a side dish or on a sandwich. Then, I watched Dr. Oz. He said to eat some sauerkraut every day because of its health benefits. I have no problem doing that. I was intrigued, however, and decided to explore . . . sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).

Sauerkraut is German for "sour cabbage." The sourness is a result of fermentation. Fermented plant foods have been around since prehistoric times. The Chinese version (kim chi) has been around since 200 BC and it is believed that the armies of Genghis Khan brought the product to Europe. In the 1770s, Captain James Cook brought barrels of sauerkraut on his ships as he traveled around the world as a remedy for scurvy that had plagued sailors for centuries.

Preservation of cabbage is by lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid, a natural preservative, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, making the sauerkraut safe to eat without cooking it. The sugars and starches in the cabbage are converted into lactic acid.

Yum, sauerkraut!
Yum, sauerkraut!

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

Fermented raw cabbage has numerous health benefits. Here are the vitamins and minerals in a one cup serving:

Fiber - 8 grams

Lactic acid - improves digestion, promotes growth of healthy bowel organisms, stimulates pancreas, reduces blood pressure, promotes healthy sleep, alleviates constipation

Low calorie - only 44 calories

Enzyme rich - allows body systems to work more efficiently

High in vitamins A & C

Helps to lower cholesterol

Phytochemicals boost the immune system

Contains isothiocyanates - shown to protect against cancer in animals

The Evils of Canned Sauerkraut

Canned sauerkraut in the store has been pasteurized. The heating process kills much of the beneficial bacteria and it has a lot of added salt. For those watching their blood pressure, this would be a concern.

It is better to purchase sauerkraut in the fresh foods section of the supermarket, a health food store, or better yet, make your own.

Do you like sauerkraut?

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  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 4 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, Audrey! Homemade is so much better!

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

    Love, love this stuff! And you are correct--the canned version has so much salt--

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Marcy, my homemade version should be ready soon. Can't wait!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Just now found this hub! I absolutely love saurkraut (no surprise if you notice my last name!). In our family, we eat it every New Year's Day for luck. We make it with mashed potatoes and dumplings (I do the fluffy dropped style). It sounds odd, but it's delicious. Maybe not a low-carb meal, but it's one of my comfort foods! Enjoyed the hub - voted up and useful.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    I'm so sorry you're allergic, sheal! I bought cabbage and salt today to try to make my own. Wish me luck!

  • profile image

    csheal6249 6 years ago

    Oh, God. I've really wanted to try cabbage dishes every so often, but have an allergic reaction to it. Judging by the kinds of dishes I've had in the past, I would admit my cravings toward cabbage. This article for Sauerkraut and cabbage sounds delicious.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Gypsy, I'm going to try that salad idea. It sounds yummy. Thanks.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Great advice. We Latvians have been eating sauerkraut for ages. Most make their own but we can get it ready made in plastic bags and containers. No cans for sure. We eat it mixed up with sour cream and mayo as a sort of salad to eat with your main meal. To this you can also add grated carrots.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    I will look into "The Versatile Vegetable," rmcrayne. I appreciate the info!

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    esme, the problem with the salt as part of the preservation process, is that it inhibits the good bacteria, which is why most would be eating fermented or cultured foods. Cultured food help make the body internal environment become more alkaline, and therefore less hospitable to disease. I prefer the cultured vegetable recipes, all cabbage based, in The Versatile Vegetable by Barrett. Good luck with your kraut.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Rmcrayne, salt is a big concern these days and it seems to be in everything!

    Thanks, Donna. I'll look into The Maker's Diet. I have a friend who does it. I'm going to try to make some sauerkraut myself. Wish me luck!

    It's always interesting to me, peramore, how nutritious some things are that you think wouldn't be. I love to learn about stuff like that.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    I'm glad you cautioned about canned kraut. The other thing to look out for is salt, which I believe Wild Fermentation versions of cultured vegetables use salt for the preservation. I use culture starter from Body Ecology. I have several hubs on The Body Ecology Diet, including a hub on cultured vegetables.

  • DonnaCosmato profile image

    Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

    Excellent hub! We follow The Maker's Diet/The Great Physician's Diet and fermented foods are a big part of that regime. My mom made her own sauerkraut for years and you are right about canned is not the same and has little to no health benefit. I really enjoyed learning more of the history of this fermented food. Voted up.

  • peramore20 profile image

    peramore20 6 years ago from Greensburg, PA

    I completed an article about the process of making sauerkraut for Livestrong. However, I am personally not a fan, but it definitely is interesting learning how nutritious it is and how it is made.