Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage. Evidence suggests this tangy, nutritious food may help support gut health and have other health benefits.
Sauerkraut has long been part of the human diet. Its name means “sour cabbage” or “sour vegetable” in German.
Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut may be good for digestive health, and sauerkraut may also have additional positive effects on health.
This article outlines the potential health benefits of eating sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is a source of lactic acid bacteria, which
One small 2018 clinical trial tested the effects of pasteurized or unpasteurized sauerkraut on the gut microbiota of 34 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The gut microbiota are the trillions of microbes that live in the gut.
People in both groups experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their IBS symptoms. However, only those who consumed the unpasteurized sauerkraut saw changes to their gut microbiota.
Therefore, the positive impact of sauerkraut on gut health and IBS improvement may be attributed to the prebiotics naturally present in cabbage as much as if not more so than the bacterial cultures associated with the fermentation process.
Learn more about healthy snacks for IBS.
Other compounds that may play a role in sauerkraut’s ability to prevent inflammation include:
Learn more about inflammation.
Sauerkraut can affect the immune system and help regulate immune function in various ways. Microbes and compounds in sauerkraut can activate different aspects of immunity within the body. Some believe this
In lab-based studies, researchers have found that kaempferol
Certain lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut produce conjugated linoleic acid.
Sauerkraut is generally safe to consume. However, it can cause a reaction in some people.
Histamine intolerance can cause allergy-like symptoms in some people. Sauerkraut is
People who take certain types of antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, may want to speak with a healthcare professional before adding sauerkraut to their diet. This kind of medication
A study from 2018 offers a guideline for how much sauerkraut to eat for maximum health benefits. Participants consumed 75 grams of sauerkraut per day.
People can start by eating 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of sauerkraut daily and working up to slightly larger amounts.
A person can buy sauerkraut from a regular supermarket or health food shop, or they can make their own.
Instructions for homemade sauerkraut
To make sauerkraut, a person will need salt and a medium white, green, pointed, or Savoy cabbage. This equates to about 2–3 pounds (lbs).
They can follow the steps below:
- Slice the cabbage into thin strips.
- Weigh the shredded cabbage.
- Add 1.5 or 2 tbsps salt, depending on the size of your cabbage. (For a smaller or larger cabbage, use 1.5 tsps of salt per lb of cabbage.)
- Massage the salt into the cabbage strips until the cabbage starts to release liquid.
- Place the cabbage and its juice into a sterile jar, ideally with a rubber seal.
- Place baking parchment or a whole cabbage leaf with a small weight on top to submerge the cabbage.
- Seal the jar and leave it for 3–7 days at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
- If the jar has a screw top, open it daily to release the gasses.
The following are some common questions people ask about sauerkraut.
Does sauerkraut cause gas?
Some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas and bloating, after eating sauerkraut.
How often should you eat sauerkraut?
It is safe to eat sauerkraut every day, but different people may tolerate or enjoy different amounts. Some people may prefer to eat smaller portions of various fermented foods.
Is store-bought sauerkraut good for you?
Pasteurized sauerkraut may offer gut health benefits due to the prebiotics naturally present in cabbage. However, one should consider that versions that have been pasteurized will not contain live bacterial cultures, since the heating process destroys the bacteria produced by fermentation.
Those seeking this attribute in their sauerkraut should look for unpasteurized products in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, or make their own.
For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.
Sauerkraut may provide various health benefits, such as effects on immune health and inflammation. It may also contain antioxidants and substances with anticancer properties.
Most people can safely consume sauerkraut. However, it may cause people with histamine intolerance to develop allergy-like symptoms.