It’s so great when we find food that tastes good, but is also good for us. I was actually shocked to read that sauerkraut is healthy. Growing up in Ukraine, my family always made sauerkraut, and we still like to eat it at family dinners.
Sauerkraut.com lists specific health benefits from sauerkraut:
Sauerkraut is an immune booster
“Sauerkraut contains phytochemicals which are created during the fermentation process. These naturally occurring, beneficial by products of sauerkraut help boost the immune system which leads to a decrease in a number of health problems. The common cold, skin problems, weight gain and tainted blood are all fixed by a healthy functioning immune system.”
Sauerkraut fights cancer
“The most recent evidence of sauerkraut’s status as a Superfood is found in numerous studies on the cruciferous wonder’s cancer fighting properties. The results of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that sauerkraut is a cancer inhibitor. The study discovered that the fermentation of cabbage produced a substance called isothiocynates, which prevents cancer growth, particularly in the breast, colon, lung and liver. Although raw cabbage is normally rich in a compound called glucosinolate, the researchers found that during the fermentation process enzymes are released that completely decompose the compound into several breakdown products. The majority of these products are cancer-fighting isothiocyanates.
The University of New Mexico published a study linking sauerkraut consumption by adolescent females to a reduced risk for breast cancer earlier studies indicate sauerkraut may reduce the risk for other forms of cancer including lung, colon, prostate, and liver We are finding that fermented cabbage could be healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, especially for fighting cancer, says Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, Ph.D., research manager of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, located in Jokioinen, Finland.
A recent study by the American Center for Cancer Research has found that sauerkraut has a profound effect in preventing and healing breast cancer. Based on reports that breast cancer rates amongst polish women in the United States were much higher than those in Poland researchers set out to find out why. Their answer; the women who still lived in Poland ate significantly larger amounts of sauerkraut especially important while they were in adolescence. The research found that the women who immigrated Americanized’ their diets and stopped eating as much of the super food that is sauerkraut thus increasing their rates of breast cancer.”
Sauerkraut helps with digestion
“Eating sauerkraut is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contain the bacterium Lactobacilli plantarum. L. planatarum is a very dominant strain of healthful bacteria which helps your digestive system in the following ways: boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease help inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast) create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the antinutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium. These various properties are the best scientific reasons given for what has been known by loyal users for millennia, sauerkraut cures an upset stomach and is the best natural physic there is.
Many sources say raw fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system by increasing the healthy flora in the intestinal tract or creating the type of environment for them to flourish. Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional folk remedies for constipation. Fermentation actually increases nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods are also said to facilitate the breakdown and assimilation of proteins. They have a soothing effect on the nervous system. The benefits of sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice have been recognized for generations. In some families of southern Germany, the children are fed raw sauerkraut twice weekly to support their intestines. Today it is thought that these benefits may relate to a high proportion of lactic acid in sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice that naturally supports the digestive processes, maintain intestinal flora, and increase the feeling of well-being.”
Sauerkraut fights the flu
“With the spread of Avian Flu spreading across the globe, one enterprising Korean scientist, Kang Sa-Ouk of Seoul National University, took 13 chickens infected with avian flu virus and a couple of other diseases, fed them Kim chi extract and found that 11 of the birds recovered. Experts think the vital bacteria are created during the fermenting process and this gives the dish its health-boosting qualities.”
Sauerkrautrecipes.com provides a great recipe.
5 lb. green cabbage, shredded, about 16 cups
1 large whole cabbage leaf, reserved
4 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup fresh lingonberries or cranberries
2 medium tart apples, 1/2″ dice
3-1/2 TB coarse Kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
Combine the shredded cabbage with the carrots, lingonberries or cranberries, and apples in a very large bowl or bucket. Use your fingers to toss thoroughly with the salt and sugar, making sure it is evenly distributed. Let stand for 1 hour.
Transfer the vegetables and the accumulated liquid into a 2- gallon jar with a wide mouth or a small nonreactive bucket. Cover with the reserved cabbage leaf. Place a saucer on the cabbage leaf and weight with a large can filled with water or a small work-out weight. The cabbage should be completely submerged in liquid. Place a double layer of clean wet cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and tie securely with kitchen string. Place in a well-ventilated place, at about 65* to 75* F.
Every day for the next four days, remove and rinse out the cheesecloth. Before replacing it, remove any scum that might appear on the cabbage leaf and top of the shredded cabbage. Then pierce the shredded cabbage to the bottom of the jar in several places to release the gasses. Also, make sure the cabbage is totally submerged in the brine. If it isn’t, add enough water to cover. Taste the cabbage, and if it seems well on its way to fermentation, transfer it to a cooler spot (a garage or dry basement might be ideal). The sauerkraut will take a total of 10 to 12 days until it is fully fermented. Be sure to check and taste it daily.
After that time, transfer the sauerkraut to individual sterilized jars, add the liquid, and seal. It will keep for up to 3 months in the refrigerator.