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Sauerkraut contains dissolved carbon dioxide from the fermentation process; when consumed in large amounts, the gas forms bubbles that give you gas.
What Are the Health Benefits of Sauerkraut?
Naturally fermented sauerkraut packs more than just a punch of flavor, it’s also good for you. But all not sauerkraut is created equal — read on to learn which sauerkraut has the most health benefits.
Cara Rosenbloom, RD, is a dietitian, award-winning author, and nutrition writer for Allrecipes, the Washington Post, Verywell, Food & Nutrition Magazine.
Published on May 11, 2021
Sauerkraut is great addition to salads, sandwiches and wraps, pairs well with eggs, and is perfect on sausages. But it provides so much more than great flavor. Sauerkraut boasts some impressive health benefits, but only if you know which kind to buy. Here are some health benefits of sauerkraut and a guide to picking one with the best nutritional value.
Sauerkraut and fermentation
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that’s used as a condiment or tasty side dish. It’s made through a process known as fermentation, and uses relatively simple ingredients — just cabbage and salt. It’s the fermentation process that’s so important because it’s what gives sauerkraut its distinct flavor and health benefits.
When cabbage and salt are packed into a container and left to ferment, the cabbage begins to release liquid and creates its own brine. Cabbage naturally has lactobacillus bacteria on its leafy surface. When in the brine solution, these bacteria start to convert the carbohydrates in cabbage into lactic acid, which act as a natural preservative for the sauerkraut. That’s why there are no additives and preservatives needed in properly made sauerkraut.
After 3 to 20 days in the brine solution, the cabbage begins to ferment into a sour, salty side dish. The longer it ferments, the more the flavor will change. If you’re making it at home, it’s really up to your individual taste buds to decide when it’s ready to eat. If you’re buying a commercial brand, they will all taste a bit different depending on how they are made.
Nutrients in sauerkraut
As a side dish, a cup of sauerkraut contains just 30 calories, but boasts and impressive four grams of fiber, and is a source of vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium and folate. Some brands are very high in salt, so read labels and compare.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, some types of sauerkraut may contain beneficial probiotics. These are live microorganisms that are being studied for their ability to confer health benefits to humans, including improved gut health and maintaining a well-functioning immune system.
Health benefits of sauerkraut
Studies have shown that eating fermented foods may be associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, and it’s likely due to bacteria such as lactobacillus. Eating fermented foods may improve gut health and enhance immune and anti-inflammatory responses.
Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut have also been studied for their ability to help lower blood pressure levels. In one study, researchers added sauerkraut to the diet of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They found that sauerkraut improved the symptoms of IBS, and led to changes in the gut microbiome.
Foods were traditionally fermented to prolong shelf life and keep them safely preserved, but researchers soon discovered that there also a host of health benefits from fermented foods. The benefits may be due to probiotics, or could come from some other benefit from the fermentation process.
During fermentation, lactic acid bacteria help synthesize vitamins and minerals, make the enzymes that help digest proteins, and help eliminate anti-nutrients from food, such as phytates in grains. These factors can all help aid digestion, and are some reasons why sauerkraut is good for gut health.
Does all sauerkraut contain probiotics?
It’s important to clarify this here: All sauerkraut is made by fermentation, but not all sauerkraut contains high levels of active probiotics.
A review of studies shows that some types of sauerkraut may have a probiotic effect. One study looked specifically at 114 different lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut, and the researchers identified three strains with probiotic potential. Of course, these strains are not found in all brands of sauerkraut.
Does cooking destroy sauerkraut’s probiotics?
Using sauerkraut in recipes is delicious, but the heat used in cooking sauerkraut will kill probiotics. If you do cook your sauerkraut, serve a bit extra as a raw side dish or condiment to reap the most benefit!
How much sauerkraut should I eat?
If you’re looking to eat sauerkraut for its health benefits, you may be wondering how much sauerkraut you should eat for gut health. To promote overall gut health, try incorporating regular amounts of naturally fermented raw sauerkraut into your diet on a consistent basis along with a variety of other fermented, probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha.
How to buy sauerkraut with probiotics
If you’re buying sauerkraut to add flavor to meals, choose any brand you like. But if you’re specifically looking for the health benefits from a fermented product that may contain probiotics, there’s more you need to know.
A recent study properly defined ‘fermented foods’ and differentiated between those that contain probiotics and those that do not. There is hope that the food industry will adopt these globally agreed-upon definitions to properly identify fermented foods that contain probiotics. This would help consumers easily find these products on store shelves.
Until then, here are some hints for buying probiotic-rich sauerkraut.
- The only ingredients should be cabbage and salt. It should not contain sugar, preservatives, vinegar or food additives.
- Buy sauerkraut from the refrigerator section, rather than in a can or shelf-stable jar. Refrigerated options contain more probiotics.
- Look for on-pack words such as ‘raw,’ ‘unpasteurized,’ ‘perishable’ and ‘keep refrigerated. Lactic acid is a preservative, so addition pasteurization is not needed.
- If it is pasteurized, look for a method that uses low heat. Some brands state ‘low heat pasteurization’ on the jar. Remember: high heat pasteurization kills probiotic bacteria.
- Choose one that specifically says it’s a source of lactobacilli, or even specifically names the strain. For example, it may say L. plantarum 299v, which is a strain with probiotic properties.
How to make fermented sauerkraut
You can also make your own fermented sauerkraut at home to reap the potential health benefits of sauerkraut. Just as with sauerkraut you buy at the store, avoid recipes that call for vinegar; instead look for a recipe that contains just cabbage and salt, with optional flavorings such as caraway seeds.
Try this recipe for Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut, which is made using the natural fermentation process.
- All About Sauerkraut
- What Are Probiotics?
- Ways to Enjoy Homemade Sauerkraut
How Much Sauerkraut To Eat Per Day? Complete Guide
Fermented products such as sauerkraut have gained quite the popularity due to their proclaimed health benefits, especially their probiotic content. However, most people don’t know how much sauerkraut to consume in order to gain the expected health benefits. This is because sauerkraut contains different amounts of nutrients, depending on its preparation, processing, and packaging. This guide is intended to showcase various ways of consuming sauerkraut and the recommended serving amounts.
What Is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut refers to fermented cabbages that are stored under a controlled environment to allow yeast and bacteria to ferment the sugars in the vegetables naturally. The bacteria and yeast establish an acidic environment that prevents rotting and infestation of harmful cultures. The result is well-preserved cabbages enriched with probiotics.
Health Benefits Of Eating Sauerkraut
Improving Digestion – Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains billions of live probiotics that help restore the gut flora. Consuming sauerkraut regularly increases the population of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system; the bacteria act as the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and toxins. As a result, common problems such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea are significantly reduced. Ref: nih.gov
Boosting The Immune System – Sauerkraut contains probiotics which have a strong influence on the immune system. Probiotics usually improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut lining, which prevents gut-related illnesses. Sauerkraut is also rich in iron and vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system and hastens the healing process. Ref: ncbi.gov
Supporting Weight Loss Activities – Sauerkraut contains dietary fiber, which makes you feel full for longer, thus reducing the number of meals you consume. This is coupled with its low carb count; therefore, your weight loss activities will be more noticeable. While the mechanism of probiotics on weight loss is not fully understood, scientists have discovered that probiotics rich food encourages more weight loss. Ref: sciencedirect.com
Packed With Nutrients – Sauerkraut contains essential vitamins and minerals that are required to maintain your health—these range from vitamin C, k1, and B6. The minerals present in sauerkraut include folate, copper, manganese, iron, and sodium. Sauerkraut is also rich in dietary fiber.
Is It Healthy To Eat Sauerkraut Daily?
Yes, it’s healthy to eat a little sauerkraut every day. A 10 g serving will offer the best results with minimal side effects if it’s your first-time consuming sauerkraut its recommended to start out small, preferably 3 g per serving. This is followed by regular increments as your digestive system becomes adapted to the fermented cabbages.
How Much Sauerkraut Should You Eat Per Day?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recommends limiting your daily sauerkraut consumption to between 7 and 10 g per day.
How Much Sauerkraut Should You Eat For Probiotic Benefits?
For Weight Loss
For the best weight loss results, it’s recommended to keep your probiotic intake to at least 10 million CFUs (colony forming units – these are individual yeast and bacteria cells). To obtain such a large number of probiotics, you will need to consume between 7 to 14 g of unpasteurized sauerkraut per day. For more consistent results, you should regularly consume sauerkraut for at least 8 weeks.
For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a common digestive disorder that affects the large intestine leading to cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea and gas. Consuming at least 10 g of unpasteurized sauerkraut for at least 6 weeks provides enough probiotics to change your gut bio and reduce the IBS flare ups.
Ideas To Get Your Daily Volume Of Sauerkraut
1. Snack On It
Sauerkraut has a mildly acidic flavor, which makes it the perfect savory snack. You can make sauerkraut balls to snack on during the day or after exercises.
2. Use As A Condiment
Due to its unique flavor profile, sauerkraut can be added to other dishes as a condiment. This not only improves their taste but also adds prebiotic benefits to the final dish.
3. Use It In A Salad
Sauerkraut can be added to salads as it matches perfectly with other vegetables, and you don’t need a salad dressing as the sauerkraut will act as one.
4. Use It In Meat Recipes
Sauerkraut’s taste notes fit perfectly with any meat-based meal.
5. Soups And Sources
Frozen sauerkraut makes for a great addition to any soup or sauce recipe. Not only does it improve the flavor, but it also adds essential nutrients such as minerals and vitamins.
How Much Sauerkraut Should I Take For Probiotics?
It’s recommended taking at least 10 g of sauerkraut for the best probiotic benefits.
Will Sauerkraut Make You Poop?
Sauerkraut is rich in dietary fiber, which is essential for bulking and smooth passage of stool, thus making you poop more often.
What Is The Healthiest Sauerkraut To Buy?
The healthiest sauerkraut to buy should be raw unpasteurized and fully fermented sauerkraut without any added preservatives or additives.
Is Sauerkraut Anti Inflammatory?
Sauerkraut contains billions of probiotics which have an overall anti-inflammatory effect.
Why Does Sauerkraut Give You Diarrhea?
Consuming too much sauerkraut can trigger diarrhea due to the excessive intake of probiotics.
Is Sauerkraut In A Jar Good For You?
Yes, sauerkraut that’s stored raw in a jar will still retain its probiotic content as long as it does not undergo pasteurization. Before buying jarred sauerkraut, it’s recommended to check if its pasteurized or not.
What 3 Foods Are Bad For Your Gut?
Some of the worst foods for your gut bio include diet soda, processed and refined foods as they usually throw the gut bio out of whack.
Is Sauerkraut Good For Your Liver?
Yes, sauerkraut is rich in probiotics and vitamins, which help in detoxification; the removal of toxins from the body makes it much easier for the liver allowing its cells to repopulate.
Why Does Sauerkraut Give You Gas?
Sauerkraut contains dissolved carbon dioxide from the fermentation process; when consumed in large amounts, the gas forms bubbles that give you gas.
Can You Eat Too Much Sauerkraut?
It’s not recommended to eat too much sauerkraut as it might trigger diarrhea and stomach upsets.
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Same question as above I live alone and can only buy 300 gram jars and you say consume 10grams daily but best before date is 7days after opening is there any way of preserving this because it’s a lot of waste
Billy May 03, 2022
How much sauerkraut is 10 grams in cups (or tablespoons or ounces)?
Georgia May 03, 2022
Telling me grams and other things I don’t understand really doesn’t help much. I’m old school. Can you write it in forms of teaspoon or tablespoon, half cups – etc? Thank you.
Ellen May 03, 2022
How long does a large jar last? Says in label 3 days. .?
Gill May 03, 2022
Very helpful thanks.
However, this has has thrown up another question for me!
My preferred sauerkraut comes in 300g tubs (in fact that’s the smallest I have seen when I looked into buying it) and clearly states that once opened must be used within 7 days. As I live alone that works out at just under 43g daily – no wonder I get gas and loose stools when I have it!! Does anyone know if it’s ok for me to freeze it, without it losing its beneficial qualities?
Tanj June 01, 2021
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Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- Vitamin C 17%
- Iron 6%
- Vitamin B6 0%
- Magnesium 0%
- Calcium 2%
- Vitamin D 0%
- Cobalamin 0%
- Vitamin A 0%
The word sauerkraut translates in English to “sour cabbage”. It’s used to describe a naturally fermented form of the vegetable — a traditional German food.
The fermentation process keeps bacteria from growing on the cabbage, which allows sauerkraut to stay fresh longer than unfermented cabbage.
Sauerkraut has a pungent odor and a strong, sour flavor. In the United States, it is perhaps best known for its use on Reuben sandwiches.
Because sauerkraut is made from cabbage, it has many of the expected health benefits of your average leafy green. However, the fermentation process adds health benefits that are unique to sauerkraut. Let’s take a look at what adding this food to your diet can do for your body.
One serving of sauerkraut has two grams of fiber — a nutrient known to aid with digestion. For people with constipation, fiber increases the weight and size of their stool and softens it, making it easier to pass. For people with diarrhea, fiber can absorb excess water and solidify their stool.
However, it’s not just sauerkraut’s fiber content that makes this food so good for digestion. Sauerkraut is also packed with probiotics that can improve your overall gut health. This combination makes sauerkraut an excellent food to aid with digestion.
Promote Weight Loss
Obesity affects more than 40% of American adults and is associated with increased risks of heart disease, digestive problems, and type 2 diabetes.
There are multiple reasons sauerkraut may help with weight loss. For one thing, sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, which can help you feel full longer. This can help reduce the amount of food you eat in a day without leaving you feeling hungry.
The probiotics in sauerkraut may also decrease fat absorption. These studies are still in the preliminary stages, and the results have yet to be replicated in humans. However, these early studies are promising and point to probiotics being key to weight loss.
In addition to its other benefits, sauerkraut is a source of several key nutrients, including:
Nutrients per Serving
A half-cup serving of canned sauerkraut contains:
- Calories: 16
- Fat: 0 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 219 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Protein: 1 gram
Sauerkraut is filled with vitamins and nutrients. Because it’s low in calories and fat, it can be tempting to load up on sauerkraut, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. However, as with most foods, moderation is key to making sauerkraut part of a healthy diet.
Sauerkraut is packed with sodium, with one serving containing 9% of your recommended daily allowance. Most American diets have too much sodium in them already, and incorporating high-sodium servings of sauerkraut into your day won’t help. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure.
To prevent these issues, limit yourself to one portion of sauerkraut per day and avoid processed foods to keep your sodium levels low.
How to Eat Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut can be purchased canned or jarred in most grocery stores. It’s generally used as a condiment to add a unique flavor to foods, but can also be eaten as a side dish or healthy snack.
Some ideas for using sauerkraut include:
- On a sandwich
- On a hotdog
- As a dip for chips
- On avocado toast
- In deviled eggs
- On to a burrito
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Adult Obesity Facts.”
Elsevier: “Optimising Foods for Satiety.”
ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.
Foods: “Microbial Community Analysis of Sauerkraut Fermentation Reveals a Stable and Rapidly Established Community.”
Lipids in Health and Disease: “Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion in healthy Japanese subjects.”
Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet.”
Mayo Clinic: “Obesity.”
Mayo Clinic: “Sodium: How to tame your salt habit.”
University of Minnesota Extension: “How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut.”