What Are the Health Benefits of Sauerkraut?

A ceramic crock of sauerkraut on a linen mat with a wooden spoon, onions, and dried spices. (Image: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images)

Sauerkraut delivers some solid health benefits, including providing fiber and a significant amount of vitamins C and K. It also boosts your energy and immune system with iron. In spite of the positives, you should limit the amount you eat. Since it’s fermented with salt, sauerkraut is high in sodium. One cup contains 39 percent of your recommended daily intake. You can cut sodium in half by buying low-sodium brands.

Potential Probiotic Benefits

As cabbage ferments to produce sauerkraut, it produces a diverse population of live bacteria. These probiotics replenish the good bacteria in your gut and help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. They may also boost your immune system, synthesize B vitamins and relieve diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics. However, heat kills live bacteria. If you cook it or buy pasteurized sauerkraut, you won't benefit from probiotics. Look for fresh sauerkraut or brands that add live bacteria back to the product after pasteurization.

Fiber for Your Heart

The Institute of Medicine determined the adequate daily intake for fiber based on the amount needed to protect against cardiovascular disease. The soluble fiber in cabbage binds with fats and cholesterol and carries them out of your body. This means less cholesterol is absorbed into your bloodstream, according to the University of Illinois at Chicago Wellness Center. To get the maximum health benefit from fiber, women need to consume 25 grams daily and men need 38 grams. A 1-cup serving of sauerkraut contains 4 grams of fiber, or 16 percent of women’s and 11 percent of men’s daily intake.

Two Vitamins for Strong Bones

Vitamin C’s reputation is linked to its antioxidant abilities, and vitamin K is known for its role in blood clotting, but both of them are essential for strong bones. Bone building begins with strands of collagen. Then crystals of calcium and phosphorus attach to the collagen to form the bone. The combination of hard, durable minerals with strong and resilient collagen creates a skeleton that absorbs impact without breaking, according to "Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General." None of this happens without vitamin K. It produces proteins that facilitate and regulate bone mineralization. One cup of sauerkraut contains 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 23 percent of vitamin K.

Iron for Energy

Without iron, your red blood cells can’t carry oxygen throughout your body. As a result, your energy drops and you may develop anemia. Iron also impacts your overall energy through its role in the chemical reactions that produce energy. Sauerkraut boosts your iron several ways, beginning with supplying 12 percent of your recommended daily allowance. The form of iron in plants is not efficiently absorbed, but vitamin C significantly improves the amount taken into your system. Sauerkraut has vitamin C and it also contains lactic acid, which further enhances iron absorption, according to Arizona State University.

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