Sauerkraut is not exactly a “sexy” food in terms of taste, texture, smell and color, BUT we beg to differ at Revitalive! Sauerkraut is what we fondly refer to as a friendly ferment, or a cultured vegetable, which is rich in gut-friendly bacteria. We love cultured foods at Revitalive and sauerkraut is just one of the many friendly ferments here! Sadly as a culture, Americans have moved away from naturally fermented foods as more processed foods became readily available. However, we are remembering the benefits of probiotics and friendly bacteria.
Sauerkraut is, in fact, very healthy and very delicious. After eyeing it skeptically for the three months that I’ve worked at Revitalive, placing it on more Macro Bowls than I know, I tried it for the first time two weeks ago and I fell in love. Yes, it looks like shredded cabbage that’s been left on the counter for a few days, and in fact, that’s what it is, but that’s what makes it so great.
Cabbage has naturally occurring bacteria on the surface of its leaves, called lactic acid-producing bacteria. When shredded cabbage is combined with a small amount of salt and placed in an airtight container, a few things happen that make the cabbage even more nutritious (and well-preserved) than it was in its original state. First, the Leuconostoc species of bacteria produces carbon dioxide, which replaces any oxygen left in the container. At the same time, thanks to the juice-extracting effect of the salt, the Leuconostoc produces lactic acid by digesting the natural sugars in the cabbage juice. As the acidity increases, the Leuconostoc dies out and the Lactobacilli species continues the fermentation process. When a pH of 3 is reached, the fermentation stops, and the sauerkraut is ready to be eaten or stored.
Sauerkraut is a great source of beneficial bacteria for the gut, but one that requires only two ingredients and no dairy. Having a balanced gut flora can help support the immune system, resolve allergies, reduce symptoms of IBS, and keep yeast infections at bay. The fermentation process also produces enzymes that aid digestion, both of the cabbage itself and other foods eaten with it.
Sauerkraut is high in vitamin C and fiber, as well as vitamin U, which can help heal peptic ulcers. It also contains isothiocyanates, compounds that have been proven to prevent the growth of cancer in laboratory studies.
The sauerkraut used at Revitalive is local, organic, and unpasteurized. Being unpasteurized is perhaps the most crucial aspect of sauerkraut, as the process of pasteurization kills off the friendly bacteria that make sauerkraut what it is. Many types of sauerkraut found in grocery stores have been pasteurized, so be careful when shopping!
Sauerkraut is found on Revitalive’s Macro Bowl, along with brown rice, black beans, broccoli, and kale. It can also be placed on top of any other bowl you like! Whether or not you’ve tried sauerkraut before, and whether or not you liked it, give it a try at Revitalive! You may be happily surprised.
Cheese Slave: http://www.cheeseslave.com/eat-fermented-foods/
Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA281235
Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/surprising-health-benefits-of-sauerkraut
Nourishing Treasures: http://www.nourishingtreasures.com/index.php/2012/05/15/the-science-behind-sauerkraut-fermentation/
Scientific American: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/lab-rat/2014/07/26/sauerkraut-bacteria-making-food/