A one-cup serving of sauerkraut provides about a quarter of our daily value for vitamin K, 35 percent of our vitamin C, 12 percent of iron, four grams of fiber and only 32 calories—all more bioavailable because of the fermentation process.
But beyond its basic nutrient profile—which is a great one—sauerkraut has emerged as an important super food that provides a number of potential health benefits. Here are five of them.
1. Prevent Cancer
In 2005, researchers from Poland reported that high cabbage/sauerkraut intake in girls 12-13 years old through adulthood reduced risk of breast cancer. Women who ate at least three servings a week of raw or short-cooked cabbage and sauerkraut had a significantly reduced risk compared to those who had only one serving per week.
The scientists theorized that the “glucosinolates” in cabbage (natural components in many pungent plants) helped decrease DNA damage and cell mutation, and also blocked processes that stimulated excessive cell growth, which typically leads to tumors. The fermentation process breaks down the glucosinolates into “isothicyanates” and other compounds that encourage precancerous cells to self-destruct.
Other studies have reported similar findings. In 2012, Nutrition Cancer showed that consumption of cabbage and sauerkraut was connected with a significant reduction in breast cancer incidences. A second 2012 study also reported that raw cabbage and sauerkraut juices could affect the genes involved in the activation of carcinogens, exerting anticarcinogenic activity.
2. Boost Immunity
Sauerkraut is a good source of probiotics—friendly bacteria that help boost immunity. In 2005, scientists found that it contained bacteria (lactobacillus) that could combat bird flu. Researchers actually gave kimchi—a spicy cabbage dish similar to sauerkraut—to chickens infected with bird flu, and one week later most had recovered.
In a 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists found that the probiotics like those found in sauerkraut raised levels of the immune system antibody IgG3 by as much as 66 percent.
A later 2013 study also found that fermented sauerkraut juice could be used “as an antifungal and antibacterial agent to cure infectious diseases.” In fact, the juice performed more efficiently against fungal infectious agents than a commercially available antibiotic.
Sauerkraut is so efficient at protecting us from infections that it’s been called “the next chicken soup.”
Article from Renegade Health, June 25, 2014, by Colleen M. Story.