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Sauerkraut and Probiotics

by
author image Aglaee Jacob
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
Sauerkraut and Probiotics
Sauerkraut served in a ceramic dish on a rustic table. Photo Credit Lilechka75/iStock/Getty Images

Probiotics and microbes that are good for you. By contributing to a healthy gut flora, this live microorganisms can help you have a good digestion, boost your immune system and even provide you some important vitamins. Many foods are now enriched with probiotics and probiotics can also be purchased in supplement form. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have included probiotics from fermented foods, such as miso, yogurt and sauerkraut.

Strains

The probiotics found at the store usually contain only one strain of bacteria or a few different strains that are thought to be helpful. On the other hand, raw sauerkraut can contain a mixture of over 13 different species of gut-friendly bacteria, according to a study published in the December 2007 issue of "Applies and Environmental Microbiology." Each different batch of sauerkraut you eat, especially if you ferment it yourself, may contain different proportions of different strains of probiotics. Including a variety of strains of probiotics can help you diversify and improve your gut flora.

Concentration

The quality of the probiotics you can buy in supplements at the store can vary from one brand to another. Some probiotic supplements claim they contain a certain concentration of probiotics, but many of them cannot guarantee that these gut-friendly bacteria are alive at the time of consumption. In order to be beneficial to your health, your probiotics need to be alive and present in high concentrations. With raw sauerkraut, you have a guarantee that you are ingesting a high amount of live beneficial bacteria with every mouthful, as long as you don't heat or cook the sauerkraut, which would kill the probiotics.

Cost

Probiotic supplements are often sold a high price, especially if they are of good quality and guarantee a minimal concentration of live beneficial bacteria. Raw sauerkraut can provide you the same benefits for a fraction of the cost. If you buy prepared sauerkraut, make sure that it is in the refrigerated section to ensure it contains live bacteria. Preparing and fermenting your own sauerkraut is actually the cheapest way to ensure you get a good dose of probiotics every day at the very affordable price of a cabbage, some salt and filtered water.

Taste

Raw sauerkraut can not only make a healthy way to supplement your diet with gut-friendly bacteria, but it can also add taste to your meals. Popping a pill to get probiotic from supplements is not as enjoyable. Add raw sauerkraut to salad, as a garnish to meat or as a side dish to accompany a breakfast of eggs and sausages. Do not heat or cook sauerkraut to keep the probiotics it contains alive. If you make your own sauerkraut, experiment with different seasonings, add grated carrots or other varieties of colorful cabbage for variety.

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