Sauerkraut which may be translated into English from German as â€œsour cabbage’Â is finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented with the aid of lactic acid bacteria over time. Sauerkraut has a distinct sour taste and an extended shelf life which happens when the bacteria ferments the sugar in the cabbage because of the lactic acid that is there inside this food. Sauerkraut is often used as a condiment upon several foods such as hot dogs, meat dishes and others.
Fermenting food for later use has a long history in many cultures all across the globe. The early Roman writers Columella and Cato has mentioned in their books about the art of preserving turnips and cabbages with salt. Later on Genghis Khan after he invaded China, introduced this art of preserving cabbages with salt to the citizens of the European continent, where this form of food recipe became popular mostly in Eastern Europe and Germany and is called Sauerkraut, while in France it is named Choucroute.
Before refrigerators were invented much like other frozen foods, Sauerkraut, provided a source of essential nutrient to the northern and central European peoples, during their long winter days. It has been recalled on several occasions that James Cook, the famous seafarer always carried with him stores of Sauerkraut, on all his sea voyages, since this food helps in preventing scurvy.
Some of the benefits of eating Sauerkraut are as follows:
1. It is even more nutritious than original cabbage
As a low calorie diet that is high in magnesium, calcium and also vitamins B, C and K sauerkraut is more nutritious than original fresh cabbages. It is also a good source of dietary folate, dietary fibers, potassium, iron and copper.
2. Effective for stomach ulcers
For centuries sauerkraut has been used widely in several parts of Europe for treating stomach ulcers. It has been well established over several studies that sauerkraut helps in smoothing the digestive track.
3. Remedy against canker sores
Sauerkraut has been used since ages as a folk remedy for the treatment of canker sores. Rinsing the mouth with sauerkraut juice several times in a day helps in effectively treating this oral disease. One can also place a wad of sauerkraut against the affected area inside the mouth to cure canker sores before chewing and ingesting the kraut.
4. Acts as a good probiotic agent
Raw sauerkraut which is lacto-fermented and is filled with good bacteria is a well-accepted probiotic agent that helps in digestion of our foods. However raw sauerkraut is definitely more useful for digestion than canned sauerkraut, which one may buy from the stores, which may differ in the probiotic levels as the kraut used in canned sauerkraut are heated in order to extend their shelf life.
5. Improves the growth of healthy bowel flora
Sauerkraut when it is eaten unpasteurized and uncooked contains beneficial microbes and live lactobacilli that are rich in enzymes and so it helps in protecting the digestive track against several diseases.
Last but not the least, it may be mentioned over here that the physician John Jay Terrell used raw sauerkraut for feeding his patients during the American Civil War, and was able to successfully reduce the death rate from diseases specially among the prisoners of war.