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What Is Sauerkraut and Why’s It so Good for You?

A person spoons sauerkraut out of a jar.
Tutatamafilm/Shutterstock.com

You’ve seen it added to hot dogs, and you’ve had it on a classic Reuben sandwich. But have you ever stopped to truly consider sauerkraut?

What is sauerkraut, and why does everyone insist that it’s so good for you?

To get down to the basics, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It’s created through a process called lacto-fermentation. When that occurs, you’ll get healthy bacteria known as lactobacillus that will convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid which helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria and keep the kraut preserved.

While you probably think of Germany when you think of sauerkraut, it’s actually thought to have originated in China as a way to stop food from spoiling quickly. Eventually, it moved over to Europe, and that’s where it took root particularly strongly in Germany and gained its name.

Wide Mouth Mason Jars 32 oz

You can actually make your own sauerkraut in mason jars using only cabbage and salt.

As for its health benefits, it’s that fermentation process we mentioned earlier that makes it such a nutritious food. Those lactobacillus bacteria are actually probiotics that help make food more digestible and help your gut absorb more vitamins and minerals. The food also has a high fiber content, tons of vitamins and minerals, and is low in calories.

The only thing to keep in mind when eating sauerkraut is that it’s high in sodium which can be bad for blood pressure. If you have concerns about your sodium intake, you might not want to douse your bratwurst in kraut, even if it does have health benefits.

The next you’re at a summer cookout or there’s a Reuben on a restaurant’s menu, you want to go ahead and get some extra sauerkraut with your meal.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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