Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, has been prized for its delicious taste and health giving qualities since the Roman times in the 3rd century BC.
The advantages of lacto-fermentation for vegetables go well beyond those of preservation and storage. In fact, sauerkraut has been the object of various studies that have indeed confirmed this traditional delicacy is indeed a life-giving superfood.
While you may be tempted to skip making it yourself, be aware that commercially produced sauerkraut and pickles are pasteurized to allow for shelf life and transportation.
Unfortunately this process, as well as the sodium benzoate commonly used as a preservative, kills off all the beneficial bacteria produced in the fermentation process, thus defeating the purpose of eating this superfood for health reasons.
Making your own sauerkraut is fun and very easy to master at home. All you need is a whole organic cabbage, sea or celtic salt, a croc and a knife or food processor. That’s it!
Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
Many studies have now confirmed that sauerkraut is an exceptional source of lactic acid bacteria, especially lactobacillus plantarum, brevis and rhamnosus, and new species are being recorded all the time.
These good bacteria in turn provide the following benefits:
- Promote growth of healthy intestinal flora
- Produce helpful enzymes that enhance digestion and assimilation of protein
- Normalize the acidity of the stomach (increase it if too low and decrease it if too high)
- Produce large amounts of choline, which helps metabolism of fats
- Produce acetycholine, which helps reduce blood pressure and promotes good sleep as well as stimulating intestinal peristalsis, making sauerkraut an ideal remedy for constipation
- Sauerkraut has also been shown to induces phase II liver detoxification
Fermented vegetables are a great accompaniment to any meal, and complement meat and fish particularly well, thanks to their digestion-enhancing qualities.
The tangy flavour of sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented veggies can be an acquired taste for some so if you are not so keen on eating them as a condiment, you might like to add a spoonful to your stir fry or casserole just before serving. Just ensure that the food is not too hot or you’ll kill off the beneficial bacteria.
A great way to introduce this life giving food to fussy children is to add a teaspoon of sauerkraut juice to soups, stews or smoothies and gradually increase the quantity. Once their tastebuds have become used to the tangy taste you can try them with a few strands of sauerkraut.
As a naturopath, I have seen countless chronic cases of digestive issues and recurrent upper respiratory infections resolved by transitioning to a traditional, nutrient-dense diet as recommended by the teachings of Dr Weston A Price and the introduction of lacto-fermented vegetables in the daily diet.