Tangy and fermented: 8 Health benefits of sauerkraut (recipe included)
10/16/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Tangy and fermented: 8 Health benefits of sauerkraut (recipe included)

Eating foods that support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut is one of the keys to good health. Doing so can also help support healthy energy levels, optimal immune function and a positive mood. If you’re wondering which foods are capable of providing these benefits, try fermented foods like sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is essentially fermented cabbage. It is commonly served as a side dish or used as a condiment when eating hot dogs and sausages. The process of making sauerkraut is similar to the process of making other fermented foods, such as miso and pickles. The cabbage is not exposed to heat, which would otherwise kill the bacteria that make fermentation possible.


Pickled or fermented foods like sauerkraut were extremely valuable before refrigerators were invented because they can stay fresh for months. Today, sauerkraut is hailed as a superfood for its many beneficial properties and nutrients, which are behind its impressive health benefits.

Here’s what sauerkraut can do for you:

1. Provides nutrients

Sauerkraut is extremely nutritious. One cup of this fermented superfood contains the following:

  • Fiber – 4 grams (g)
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Vitamin C – 23 percent of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K – 15 percent of the DV
  • Iron – 12 percent of the DV
  • Manganese – 9 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – 11 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate) – 9 percent of the DV
  • Copper – 15 percent of the DV
  • Potassium – 5 percent of the DV

Because it undergoes fermentation, sauerkraut is a great source of beneficial microbes called probiotics. During fermentation, microorganisms that are naturally present in the cabbage digest natural sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide and organic acids. This favors the growth and proliferation of probiotics.

2. Supports healthy digestion

Sauerkraut is good for your gut. In fact, this is one of the big reasons why healthy eaters are so into this dish. Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics, which have long been associated with good gut health. A small pilot study found that sauerkraut can help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotics are said to support gut health by making foods more digestible. This improves your gut’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the foods you eat.

3. Boosts immune health

Sauerkraut is also beneficial for your immune system because it contains vitamin C. Vitamin C, which you can get from foods and supplements, supports healthy immune function by encouraging the production of white blood cells. These cells protect your body from infection. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects white blood cells from unstable and damaging molecules called free radicals.

The bacteria living in your gut have a strong influence on your immune health. Studies show that the probiotics in sauerkraut can help maintain balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut. This balance is key to keeping your gut lining healthy. A healthy gut lining helps prevent unwanted substances from “leaking” into your body and causing an immune response.

4. Aids in weight loss

Sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber. This combination can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose excess weight. Eating high-fiber foods can help keep you full for long periods. If you regularly eat fiber-rich foods like sauerkraut, you may find yourself eating fewer calories per day, too.

5. Helps reduce stress

The probiotics in sauerkraut can keep your gut bacteria healthy. Studies show that friendly gut bacteria can also help reduce stress and maintain optimal brain health. Probiotics can even help improve memory and ease symptoms of mental disorders, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

6. May lower cancer risk

High levels of ascorbic acid, ascorbigen – a chemical found in broccoli and cabbage – and sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates help decrease DNA damage and slow cell mutation rate in cancer patients, according to a study by researchers from Germany. Sauerkraut has high levels of all three nutrients.

7. Contributes to a healthier heart

The probiotics in sauerkraut can help lower your blood triglycerides. Triglycerides are fats that give your body energy. But at very high levels, they can put you at risk of heart attack and stroke.

Sauerkraut also contains vitamin K2, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing calcium buildup along the walls of the arteries.

8. Maintains strong bones

The vitamin K2 in sauerkraut also plays a key role in bone health. In particular, it activates proteins that bind to calcium, the main mineral found in your bones. This action is thought to contribute to stronger bones.

How to make sauerkraut at home

Sauerkraut is available in most supermarkets, but not all sauerkrauts are created equal. Avoid pasteurized ones since those are usually lacking in probiotics. Refrigerated sauerkraut is less likely to be pasteurized, but always check the label to be sure. Also check the label for preservatives. Many store-bought sauerkraut brands contain preservatives, which may lower the probiotic content of sauerkraut.

Alternatively, you can make your own sauerkraut at home. Just follow this recipe:


  • 4 1/2 pounds green or white cabbage, cored
  • 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


  1. Thoroughly wash a large tub or bowl, then rinse it with boiling water. Wash your hands as well.
  2. Shred the cabbage thinly using a food processor, then place the pieces in the tub or bowl. Massage salt into the cabbage for 5 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, then continue massaging. Add the caraway seeds and peppercorns.
  3. Cover the surface of the cabbage with cling wrap, pressing out all the air bubbles. Weigh down the cabbage with a heavy plate or dish. Then, cover the entire tub or bowl and leave it in a cool, dark place for at least five days. For maximum flavor, leave it for two to six weeks or until the bubbling subsides.
  4. Check the cabbage every day and release any gases that have built up beneath the cling wrap. Remove any scum that forms. Rinse the weights in boiling water and change the cling wrap if necessary.
  5. The cabbage will become increasingly sour the longer it’s fermented, so taste it every day. When you like the flavor, transfer the cabbage to smaller, sterilized jars for easier storage. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Take note that sauerkraut can be high in sodium because of the salt used in the fermentation process. Keep this in mind if you’re watching your salt intake or if you have — or are at risk of — high blood pressure.

Sauerkraut is a fermented food with several health benefits to offer. Serve it on its own as a side dish, use it as a garnish or incorporate it into your go-to recipes to reap its natural goodness.







100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Related Articles
comments powered by Disqus

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Popular articles