Monday, August 27, 2012

Benefits of Sauerkraut

Today I learned that sauerkraut isn't just for hot dogs! Considering I don't eat many hot dogs, sauerkrant was never on my radar. Today while shopping I happened upon some free samples of Wildbrine's line of sauerkraut salads and I was really impressed. 

Directly translated, sauerkraut means sour cabbage. It is a finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented. Today many sauerkrauts are made with vinegar, but the traditional method of lacto-fermentation using salt is truely beneficial to your health. Wildbrine does it right and offers a true superfood. Fermented foods improve digestion, restore the balances of bacteria in your gut, and are rich in enzymes. Sauerkraut is packed with probiotics and a cup contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Studies have shown that eating cabbage, the main ingredient in sauerkraut, may even protect against certain cancers. Antioxidants that combat free radical damage are in there as well. Lactobacillus plantarum, a strain of good bacteria found in the tasty kraut can help boost the immune system and the fermentation process triggers the production of phytochemicals that protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses.

Being pregnant, my first thought was "Can I eat sauerkraut while pregnant?" I was surprised and very excited to learn that it is actually really good for pregnant women. At the end of pregnancy a woman's body must produce additional red blood cells to support the developing baby. Many women must add additonal iron into their diets at this point to ward off anemia. My doctor recently put me on iron supplements for this very reason. I have been trying to add more into my diet as well. A cup of sauerkraut contains 2 mg of iron. Yay!

I was also amazed to learn that, according to the Great Lakes Kraut Company, the compound Indole-3-Carbinol found in cabbage has been linked to a lower risk of childhood cancer when a woman eats foods that contain it during pregnancy. I am stocking up! I did find that it is high in sodium though, so as not to increase my risk of high blood pressure, I am going to eat it in moderation.

Needless to say, the woman with the free samples made a sale. I made Chicken Tacos with Wildbrine's Arame & Ginger Sauerkraut Salad. Corn tortillas, a little leftover chicken, celery, lettuce, sour cream, and salsa topped with the sauerkraut. I swear it was amazing. Reminiscent of the cabbage on fish tacos. These tacos can be thrown together with whatever leftovers are laying around and the health benefits are so numerous that it is now on my lunch rotation.

Further Reading:
What are the Benefits of Eating Sauerkraut
Fermented Foods: Top 8 Reasons to Eat them
Eating Sauerkraut While Pregnant

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