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Is sauerkraut good for you? Can you eat sauerkraut on empty stomach? Find out what are the health benefits of sauerkraut and how eating this healthy food can improve your health.
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage that is cut into small ribbons and preserved in a barrel or a jar. It is very popular in winter, especially in Eastern Europe and Germany, and from recently its popularity reaches the States. It is believed that the sauerkraut was brought to the US by Dutch sailors who ate sauerkraut to prevent vitamin C deficiency. Even though it is a German word, sauerkraut actually originates from China.
Sauerkraut benefits and side effects
Not only is it very delicious and easy to make sauerkraut, but it is also very healthy to eat it. Sauerkraut benefits are numerous, if you consume it wisely. It has a lot of different vitamins and minerals that are good for your immune system, such as vitamin C, A, K, iron. Vitamin K is also the key for strong bones and teeth. Likewise, vitamin A is good for the eyes.
Sauerkraut contains more lactobacillus bacteria than yogurt, which means it is a better source of probiotic.
Sauerkraut is known for producing the lactobacillus bacteria that successfully fights the bad bacteria in your gut and strengthens your digestive system. This powerful fermented dish is rich in fiber, which is good for heart as well as digestion. Fiber eliminates fats from the artery walls and thus reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and similar health issues.
Like any other healthy food, sauerkraut has certain side effects, especially if you eat it too much. The side effects of sauerkraut are not serious but they can be displeasing and inconvenient. For instance, if you generally have problems with constipation, you should know that cabbage including sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) can cause constipation, gases and bloating. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat sauerkraut, but if you want to avoid constipation, don’t eat too much of it.
Another side effect of sauerkraut is diarrhea. If you consume too much sauerkraut, it will leave large amount of raffinose in the stool, which may result in diarrhea. Those who have sensitive stomach, should not eat too much sauerkraut, because they can experience abdominal cramps.
Additionally, eating too much sauerkraut can lead to high blood pressure, because of salt that is a required ingredient in sauerkraut preparation. So, if you have high blood pressure or renal problems, you should avoid eating sauerkraut because it is high in sodium. Or, if you would still like to eat it, you should make your own sauerkraut with less salt and of course, consult your doctor about including sauerkraut in your diet.
Benefits of sauerkraut probiotics – Why is sauerkraut good for your stomach?
During the process of fermentation, the microorganisms that live in the cabbage and everywhere else digest the cabbage natural sugars. By doing so, the sugars turn into carbon dioxide and organic acids. The process of sauerkraut fermentation gives the perfect conditions for the growth of good bacteria, probiotics. You’ve probably heard that probiotics can also be found in kefir and yogurt. Believe it or not, sauerkraut contains more lactobacillus bacteria than yogurt, which means it is a better source of probiotic.
Raw cabbage doesn’t have probiotics, only sauerkraut!
Probiotics makes your stomach work better, digest food easier and absorb more minerals and vitamins. Thanks to sauerkraut and its probiotics, you won’t have problems with bad bacteria and toxins. Next time you use antibiotics and your tummy is upset, don’t forget to eat sauerkraut to fuel your stomach with the necessary probiotics.
Another advantage of the sauerkraut probiotics is that it makes your gut stronger, boosts the production of antibodies and makes your body more immune to harmful bacteria. With regular intake of sauerkraut, your body will have enough probiotics to fight inflammation and different allergies (food allergies, allergies that cause asthma or eczema).
One cup of sauerkraut (142 grams) provides you with :
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 7 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 39% of the RDI
Vitamin C: 35% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 23% of the RDI
Iron: 12% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDI
Folate: 9% of the RDI
Copper: 7% of the RDI
Potassium: 7% of the RDI
Does heating sauerkraut kill probiotics?
If you have ever made sauerkraut, you probably wanted to try some recipes with sauerkraut. Of course, you can always eat sauerkraut as a salad, but there are many delicious meals with sauerkraut such as podvarak, kielbasa and sauerkraut, and you may wonder if the cooking sauerkraut will kill probiotics.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Usually all bacterias, good and bad ones die when you cook vegetables above 60 degrees, but it also depends on other conditions. In the case of heating sauerkraut, researchers claim that all the probiotics will be gone.
However, one study shows that even probiotics that is killed by heating can give some benefits similar to live probiotics. According to this study, heat-killed probiotics can still help with inflammation.
Also, if you plan to freeze sauerkraut, one study shows that frozen and thawed sauerkraut will still contain live bacterias. Not all good bacterias will be live of course, but some percentage of it will. How much bacteria will survive depends on how long you freeze sauerkraut.
How much sauerkraut is too much?
If you wonder how much sauerkraut to eat per day, the answer depends on your health and immune condition. Generally, you shouldn’t overeat. If you eat too much sauerkraut, it may result in discomfort and short-term side effects.
As you probably know, sauerkraut is made of salt and cabbage. One cup of sauerkraut contains at least 940 mg of sodium. So if you eat too much sauerkraut, you will exceed the recommended sodium intake, which is around 1500mg. As a consequence, you may feel bloated because of water retention, or your blood pressure can be higher. Depending on your health condition, you can decide how much sodium you will take. If you make sauerkraut at home you can also reduce the salt and thus be able to eat bigger portions of it.
First time eating sauerkraut? Try with one to two tablespoons per day and if you don’t feel bloated and you don’t have gases, you can increase the number of tablespoons per day. In several weeks you could eat at least three tablespoons per meal.
If the sauerkraut is heated and prepared with other meals, you may eat more but don’t overeat. In the end, it’s very individual and after some time of eating sauerkraut you will know what portion is good for your stomach.
Benefits of sauerkraut juice
In my country, when you get drunk so much that you are sick, you are told to drink sauerkraut juice. It really helps! Its taste and good bacteria reduce the sickness and overall give a better feeling in your stomach.
Cabbage juice, including sauerkraut juice helps with gastrointestinal ulceration, acid reflux, stomach pain. That juice is full with vitamins C and U, glutamine (anti-inflammatory), indole-3 carbinol that is good for liver detoxification. Some studies show that sauerkraut juice also has antimicrobial and antifungal effects and that it can help with candida and salmonella.
However, if you suffer from any thyroid condition, high blood pressure or renal issue, you should first consult a doctor before drinking sauerkraut juice.
Sauerkraut benefits for weight loss
If you want to lose weight you should definitely eat sauerkraut because it is rich in fiber. Food that has high levels of fiber keeps your stomach full longer. You will crave less for eating between meals. Sauerkraut is also low in calories so that is another reason to include it in your diet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose weight. Whether you will lose weight also depends on many other factors including other food types you eat and how often you exercise.
However, you shouldn’t forget that too much sauerkraut may result in bloating and constipation. Get to know your body and stomach, and find the reasonable amount of sauerkraut for you. Sometimes, less is more.
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