Kraut is Sexy
“Kraut is sexy.” That sentence was written on the sign, in bold, slightly messy letters, clipped to the awning of a new food stand at my farmer’s market. My interest was piqued. I stepped closer to the stand and saw something that would make any foodie heart sing: free samples! Little did I know I was re-discovering a food that would improve my gut health, immune system, and the health of my first pregnancy.
I have been in love with sauerkraut all my life. I have early memories of my dad and I eating hot dogs in summer, loaded with yellow mustard and heaping mounds of kraut. Sauerkraut’s telltale tang puckered my lips and filled my heart with happiness. I was a complete addict!
Like most of the things people are irrationally passionate about, sauerkraut is a love-it-or-hate-it food. While growing up, I ardently defended my beloved kraut against all naysayers, refusing to accept that there were people who couldn’t appreciate the beauty of my salty-and-sour cabbage. Unfortunately, there was one tiny little problem with my argument —I’d never tasted real sauerkraut before.
What is REAL Sauerkraut?
Real sauerkraut is a living food. It is raw, not brined in vinegar or pasteurized, like the pseudo-kraut I had been consuming my entire life. Brining in vinegar creates a more acidic product and heat destroys the beneficial microbes and enzymes that make sauerkraut such a nutritious food. When shopping for sauerkraut at the grocery store, look for the words “live cultures,” “raw” or “living” on the label.
Sauerkraut it is the nutritional equivalent of earning “interest” on your investment. You begin with a powerful cruciferous vegetable (cabbage), add salt and/or whey, and with a little patience, you are rewarded with a food packed with more nutrients than when you began This is because the process of fermentation harnesses the power of lactobacilli to proliferate and create lactic acid.
Lactic Acid, a natural preservative, is a byproduct of lactobacilli. Fermented fruits and vegetables are transformed when the lactobacilli break down the sugars in the foods and produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is the reason fermented foods are easier to digest and offer higher levels of. When compared to fresh cabbage, sauerkraut has increased amounts of Vitamins A, C, and some B vitamins. Thanks to lactic acid, raw sauerkraut allows “good” bacteria to thrive, much to the benefit of your gut.
Probiotics for Gut Health
The probiotics in sauerkraut are microorganisms; these beneficial types of bacteria (like lactobacilli) are necessary for gut health. Probiotics are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral and inhibit “bad” bugs that cause colds, flu, and food-born illnesses. The probiotics in fermented foods, like sauerkraut, promote the growth of microorganisms in your intestines and colon. They breakdown your food and produce vitamins and minerals you need. Beneficial bacterial is truly amazing! They even attach to toxins and dioxins and aid in their removal from your body.
In the absence of beneficial bacterial, the biofilm in your gut will work against your health, preventing complete nutrient absorption and contributing to inflammation, while protecting pathogenic microorganisms, and housing toxins in the body. This is why fermented foods, which help your body colonize lactobacilli, are a vital component of a nutrient-dense diet and most would benefit from consuming them (in small amounts) at every meal.
Vitamin K2 (aka Vitamin Awesome)
In addition to making food more nutritious and easier to digest, raw kraut is one of the few vegetable sources that contain vitamin K2. New European research indicates vitamin K2 may help in preventing calcification of the arteries that lead to heart disease. This is because vitamin K2 ensures calcium is properly deposited in your bones and teeth rather than in soft tissue.
So is raw kraut sexy? Well, if you find strong bones, a healthy gut, and a strengthened immune system sexy, then the answer is a resounding “YES!” And it undoubtedly means raw sauerkraut is a food your body will thank you for!
Wait–don’t miss out on my EASY Bacon-Kraut Tacos!