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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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