5 Life Changing Health Benefits of Sauerkraut
By Abigail Zieger
Sauerkraut, or “sour cabbage,” is a probiotic-packed fermented superfood that has received renewed attention and popularity in recent years, and for good reason. The health benefits of sauerkraut are multi-faceted, ranging from its nutritional value to its friendly bacteria strains that positively affect the immune system, digestion, mood, and even weight loss. Let’s examine the health benefits of sauerkraut and learn how we can make it at home.
Sauerkraut is Nutritious
The nutritional value of sauerkraut is one of its many health benefits. According to the USDA, 1 cup of sauerkraut contains less than 1 g of fat, but is packed with 4 g of fiber, 42 mg of calcium, 18 mg of magnesium, 28 g of phosphorus, 241 g of vitamin K, and almost 21 g of vitamin C. Though it is high in sodium, even a small portion can provide great benefits.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut are rich in probiotics, or live microorganisms that include good bacteria and yeasts. These probiotics help to enhance a fermented food’s nutritional qualities, meaning that sauerkraut has more vitamins and nutrients than raw cabbage does before fermentation. Fermentation also makes food more digestible, allowing your body to use the nutrients more effectively. 
Boosts Your Immune System
The probiotics in fermented foods can play an important role in keeping us healthy. Did you know that your immune system is closely related to your gut health?
The microorganisms living in our gut, otherwise known as intestinal microbiota, can help prevent infections. Here’s how it works: the gastrointestinal tract has a mucous lining that acts as a barrier against unwanted antigens entering the body. The probiotics found in sauerkraut may aid in colonizing this barrier. They strengthen it, helping to keep pathogens out, thereby promoting a stronger immune system.
Many commercial probiotic supplements contain only a handful of good bacteria strains, but sauerkraut can have up to 28 distinct strains, offering more variety to the microbiota. Since having a healthy and diverse intestinal microbiota is directly related to intestinal health and immune health, sauerkraut is a great choice for promoting wellness.
If you do get sick, the probiotics found in sauerkraut have been shown to shorten the duration of illness. If you need to take antibiotics, sauerkraut can also be an important part of restoring a healthy gut flora, so you can get your immune system back to optimal functioning once again.
Improves Your Digestion
Improved digestion is another of the many health benefits of sauerkraut. Fermented foods contain enzymes that break food down into more easily digestible pieces and lactic acid that helps your body use nutrients more effectively.
What’s more, the fermentation process can remove or detoxify antinutrients that get in the way of digestion, such as lectins, tannins, and phytic acid.
Sauerkraut can ease other digestive problems as well. It can reduce bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. It’s also been shown to help with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease.
Improves Your Mood
The health benefits of sauerkraut don’t stop in the intestinal tract- it can also improve your mood.
Your brain sends signals to your gut, but your gut can also talk to your brain. The regular use of probiotics, such as those found in sauerkraut, has been shown to affect brain activity and improve mental health. A healthy microbiota can help to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety.
Helps You Lose Weight
Sauerkraut is a nutritious, high fiber, low-calorie food that may help you lose weight. Though better research is needed, studies have suggested that probiotics in food may reduce the amount of fat the body absorbs, increase insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, reduce inflammation, and regulate appetite.
How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar
Now that you know more of the many health benefits of sauerkraut, it’s time to take advantage of them by learning to make your own at home! It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive to make.
First, finely chop cabbage and put it in a bowl. Massage the cabbage with clean hands until it softens and releases its natural juices. Next, pack it into a jar, cover it with a saltwater brine, and use a Fermentools system to ensure a smooth fermentation process. After 2-6 weeks, your sauerkraut will be ready to consume and can be moved to cold storage.
See our basic sauerkraut recipe for full details.
-  II, Ryan Paul Orgeron, et al. “Sauerkraut: A Probiotic Superfood.” Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2016, ffhdj.com/index.php/ffhd/article/view/262.
-  “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, 1 Apr. 2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html.
-  “Office of Dietary Supplements – Probiotics.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 June 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/.
-  Swain, Manas Ranjan, et al. “Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: a Potential Source of Probiotics.” Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 28 May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058509/.
-  ML;, Lei YM;Nair L;Alegre. “The Interplay between the Intestinal Microbiota and the Immune System.” Clinics and Research in Hepatology and Gastroenterology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25481240/.
-  Isolauri, Erika, and Seppo Salminen. “Probiotics, Gut Inflammation and Barrier Function.” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, Elsevier, 8 Aug. 2005, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889855305000567?via=ihub.
-  Ohland, Christina L., and Wallace K. MacNaughton. “Probiotic Bacteria and Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Function.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 1 June 2010, journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpgi.00243.2009.
-  HP, Lu Z; Breidt F; Plengvidhya V; Fleming. “Bacteriophage Ecology in Commercial Sauerkraut Fermentations.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12788716/.
-  Caricilli, Andrea, et al. “Intestinal Barrier: A Gentlemen’s Agreement between Microbiota and Immunity.” Pubmed.gov, 15 Feb. 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24891972/.
-  King, Sarah, et al. “Effectiveness of Probiotics on the Duration of Illness in Healthy Children and Adults Who Develop Common Acute Respiratory Infectious Conditions: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24780623/.
-  Swain, Manas Ranjan, et al. “Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: a Potential Source of Probiotics.” Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058509/.
-  Divya, Jayakumar Beena, et al. “Probiotic Fermented Foods for Health Benefits.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 19 July 2012, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/elsc.201100179.
Abigail is a homesteader, homeschooler, and music-maker. She lives with her husband and three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.