9 facts about the benefits and harm of sauerkraut for the human body

Sauerkraut is a fermented product that has many beneficial properties for humans: from improving the health of the digestive tract to reducing mortality from cardiovascular and oncological diseases.

According to modern archaeological finds, the dish was first cooked in China about 2000 years ago. The main purpose of cabbage fermentation is to extend the shelf life. Over time, the product began to gain wide popularity, and scientists have identified special medicinal properties in it that are absent in fresh cabbage.

9 useful properties

Below we will provide 9 proven facts about the benefits of sauerkraut for the body, as well as its harm to some groups of people.

1. Saturates the body with nutrients

Sauerkraut contains a lot of nutrients:

Component Content per 100 grams of product (in grams)
Water 92,5
Proteins 0,91
Fats 0,14
carbohydrates 4,3
Dietary Fiber 2,9
Calcium 0,03
Iron 0,00147
Magnesium 0,013
Phosphorus 0,02
Sodium 0,661
Zinc 0,00019
Vitamin C 0,015
Thiamine 0,00002
Riboflavin 0,00002
Vitamin B6 0,00013

The energy value of sauerkraut is about 19 calories per 100 grams.

It should be noted that during cooking, cabbage undergoes fermentation, a process in which microorganisms destroy sugars to form a number of organic acids and carbon dioxide. Fermentation process creates conditions for the growth and reproduction of beneficial bacteria, which are extremely important for maintaining intestinal microbiocenosis.

American scientists note , what is the number Probiotics sauerkraut is comparable in content to products such as kefir or yogurt .

Proven that &171;beneficial&187; microorganisms not only normalize the work of the gastrointestinal tract, but also increase the biological value of food, accelerate the absorption of vitamins, micro- and macronutrients.

Sauerkraut is rich in a variety of dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the well-coordinated work of the human body.

2. Improves the functioning of the digestive system

About 50 trillion microorganisms live permanently in the lumen of the human colon.

Sauerkraut contains many probiotics &8212; beneficial bacteria that restore the balance of microorganisms in the intestine (increase the number of beneficial bacteria, inhibit the growth and reproduction of pathogenic ones).

According to American experts, sauerkraut contains up to 28 different types of bacteria. Most of all – lacto- and bifidobacteria. Their number per 100 grams of product can reach 2.5 billion.

Iranian scientists conducted a major meta-analysis, during which it was found that probiotics reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (reduce the severity of pain and dyspeptic disorders, improve the quality of life).

Sauerkraut also effectively eliminates diarrhea caused by prolonged use of antibiotics.

Proven that sauerkraut is effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. With regular use, the intensity of gas formation decreases, the severity of stool disorders decreases, and the healing of ulcerative defects accelerates.

An equally important advantage of the dish is the presence of valuable of enzymes , which, according to research , help the human digestive system to break down and assimilate all groups of nutrients.

Sauerkraut also has medicinal properties such as improving the work of local immune factors, which makes infectious and inflammatory lesions of the intestinal tube less common.

Thus, sauerkraut Improves digestion , helps to alleviate the course and prevent a number of inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (including autoimmune).

3. Strengthens the immune system

Sauerkraut improves the functioning of the immune system , which manifests itself at the system level.

The beneficial bacteria contained in the product normalize the composition of the intestinal microflora, neutralize the harmful effects of pathogenic bacteria, and reduce the risk of developing any failures on the part of the immune system.

Frequent addition of any Probiotic products (including sauerkraut) in the diet reduces the overall incidence of infectious pathologies of the body.

For example, specialists from the University of Washington discovered that the product reduces the incidence and recurrence of urinary tract infections in women by about 2 times. The effects are associated with inhibition of the growth of vaginal bacterial colonies. At the same time, according to foreign experts , the severity of the course of infectious pathologies is significantly reduced, the time of disability is reduced.

With constant consumption of products with probiotics, the need to prescribe antibiotics for infectious pathologies is reduced by 30%, which is extremely important for normal functioning of the immune system as a whole and prevention of digestive disorders.

It is important to note that sauerkraut is also useful because it is rich in vitamin C and iron – important stimulants of the immune system. Proven that vitamin C affects the cellular and humoral components of the immune system, enhances antibacterial activity, T-cell differentiation and interferon-gamma production.

According to Finnish research, vitamin C also reduces the duration and severity of the course of ARVI.

Due to the presence of probiotics in the composition, sauerkraut strengthens the immune system, increases the body's resistance to various infections.

4. Promotes weight loss

Obesity in recent years has reached a new level and has acquired the scale of a pandemic. It not only significantly reduces the quality of life and increases the risk of mortality, but also causes great economic damage.

Regular consumption of sauerkraut will not only allow you to maintain an adequate body weight, but also help you lose weight due to a variety of mechanisms.

The product has a fairly low energy value, but it contains a lot of fiber. Fiber helps to lose weight , since taking it leads to the rapid development of a feeling of satiety (due to an increase in volume and filling of the entire stomach cavity). As a result, a person loses cravings for food. The effect lasts up to several hours.

Japanese scientists have come to the conclusion that sauerkraut reduces the intensity of splitting and subsequent absorption of fats that enter the intestine with food. As a result, some fats are excreted along with feces, rather than being absorbed, and the total caloric content of the diet decreases.

Canadian experts have proved that prolonged consumption of sauerkraut (from 12 to 24 weeks) provokes a pronounced loss of body weight. In women, the effect is more pronounced than in men. The effect is associated with the inhibition of fat absorption, an increase in the content of the satiety hormone leptin in the blood, as well as with the maintenance of populations of noble bacteria in the intestine.

One of the recent studies demonstrated the high potential of sauerkraut to prevent weight gain. During the experiment, for several weeks, all participants received 1,000 calories per day more than usual, while one of the groups additionally consumed probiotics. As a result, it was noted that an increase in the energy value of the diet did not lead to an increase in body weight in the group taking probiotics. Which proves once again the fact that Probiotics are good for weight loss .

However, the described properties have not been fully studied and are the subject of scientific disputes, the main reason for which is the low level of evidence of the mechanisms of action on the metabolism of adipose tissue in the body.

Sauerkraut will prevent excess weight gain, and will also help burn existing body fat.

5. Normalizes the nervous system

Recent scientific studies demonstrate that the probiotics contained in sauerkraut are useful for higher nervous activity.

Italian scientists conducted animal experiment , who were given probiotics for 4 weeks. During the experiment, an improvement in general behavior and a decrease in the severity of anxiety were revealed,  depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders, Memory improvement .

Other rodent experiments have shown that fermented foods reduce the severity of psychoemotional disorders, prevent the development of degenerative diseases of the brain.

It should be noted that sauerkraut contains many valuable minerals (especially zinc and magnesium), which are extremely important for the adequate course of neuro-endocrine processes and improvement of the nervous system overall.

However, sauerkraut can affect the effectiveness of a number of medications used to treat depression, anxiety disorders and Parkinson's disease. In this case, a doctor's consultation is necessary.

Sauerkraut Improves brain function , reduces the severity of anxiety and depression, normalizes memory and cognitive functions.

6. Reduces the risk of developing cancer

Cabbage is rich in antioxidants and other plant compounds that prevent the development of malignant transformation of body cells. The product also reduces the destruction of DNA chains, prevents the appearance of mutations and blocks the growth of cancer cells.

Research from Finland has revealed It is shown that during the fermentation of cabbage, special compounds (zobrin, glucosinopates, isothiocyanates, etc.) are released, which directly affect foreign cells, causing their destruction.

Proven that taking the product 3 times a week reduces the incidence of breast cancer by 72%.

Also proven that sauerkraut reduces the incidence of prostate cancer in men.

Sauerkraut, due to the content of anti-cancer substances, reduces the incidence of cancer, and also directly blocks the growth of cancer cells.

7. Improves the health of the cardiovascular system

Diseases from the side of the heart and blood vessels are the leading cause of death in almost all countries of the world.

The main causes of diseases are an increase in cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood. This causes endothelial dysfunction and the formation of atherosclerotic overlays on the walls of blood vessels, which not only narrow their lumen, but also cause the formation of thrombotic masses.

According to the Center for Nutrition and Food Sciences (Australia) sauerkraut reduces total cholesterol in the blood due to the effect on the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver and inhibition of reabsorption of bile acids.

Also detected there is a direct link between the systematic consumption of probiotics and the low incidence of coronary heart disease and fatal cardiovascular pathologies.

With prolonged inclusion of probiotics in the diet, there is decline systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which is extremely important for people suffering from hypertension.

It should be mentioned that sauerkraut and its juice (brine) they are valuable sources of vitamin K2. This biologically active substance prevents the deposition of calcium and atherogenic cholesterol on the inner wall of blood vessels.

Scientific studies confirm that sauerkraut is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. It is recommended to use it every day to reduce the risk of developing many diseases, including fatal ones.

8. Strengthens bone tissue

Proven, vitamin K2 contained in sauerkraut stimulates the synthesis of protein substances that play a key role in the metabolism of calcium ions in bones.

Research, conducted at the University of Maachstricht (the Netherlands), showed that pickled cabbage reduces bone loss. The effect is especially pronounced in postmenopausal women.

Also revealed reduction in the frequency of fractures of the spine and hip neck in individuals whose diet is rich in probiotics and vitamin K2.

Sauerkraut strengthens bones , because it supports mineral metabolism in bone tissue and reduces the incidence of fractures.

9. Improves skin and eye health

Sauerkraut is rich in carotene and vitamin A. These substances have antioxidant activity and reduce the harmful effects of free radicals.

People whose diet is rich in sauerkraut, scientists note improving skin health, preventing degenerative diseases of the corpus luteum, reducing the incidence of cataracts.

On the part of the skin, there is a decrease in the intensity of wrinkle formation, as well as age-related involutive changes.

Sauerkraut will help in maintaining the health of the visual apparatus and improving the aesthetic properties of the skin.

Contraindications and possible harm

Despite the many facts about the health benefits, sauerkraut can also cause harm. The most common side effects are discussed below:

  1. Increased blood pressure. Sauerkraut helps to retain fluid in the body and reduce diuresis, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. The effects are realized due to the high sodium content. The dish should not be eaten by people who suffer from hypertension and symptomatic arterial hypertension.
  2. Increased acidity of gastric juice. The product is contraindicated in the presence of any inflammatory diseases of the stomach in the acute stage and peptic ulcer disease.
  3. Increased renal insufficiency. Any pathology from the side kidneys , accompanied by a decrease in their functional activity (for example, CKD) are a contraindication. The large amounts of organic acids present in cabbage increase the severity of symptoms.
  4. Flatulence. Increased gas formation is observed with uncontrolled consumption of the product (over 200 g per day) and leads to a decrease in the quality of life, activation of a number of infectious and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Thus, it is necessary to correctly approach the inclusion of sauerkraut in the diet, carefully study the contraindications, and, if necessary, consult a doctor.

How to choose in the store – 5 tips

Sauerkraut can be found and purchased in most grocery stores, however, you must carefully examine the product before buying.

Basic selection recommendations:

  1. Rejection of the pasteurized product. Heat treatment kills most of the positive microorganisms, reducing the benefits to the body.
  2. Rejection of preservatives. Many manufacturers, in order to increase shelf life, add a number of preservatives that can kill beneficial bacteria.
  3. Giving up sugar. A high-quality product should contain only cabbage and salt. There are also types without salt.
  4. Taste, smell and consistency. Pickled cabbage should have a sour-salty taste and not crunch. The crunch indicates pretreatment with boiling water, which destroys valuable vitamins and bacteria, and extraneous odors and tastes indicate the presence of mold and rot.
  5. Choose a large-cut product. When finely sliced, the concentration of biologically active nutrients decreases.
You need to carefully consider the choice of sauerkraut before buying, carefully study the label in order to purchase a really high-quality product.

Cooking recipe at home

Sauerkraut can be cooked independently at home. The cooking process is quite simple.

We will need:

  • 1 kg of cabbage;
  • 25 g of salt.

Recipe scheme:

  1. Chop cabbage with a knife into a glass or metal enameled container. Add salt and mix well.
  2. Tamp the resulting mass with a wooden pusher.
  3. Cover the mixture with a plate or any dense disk of food materials. Put a load on top, weighing about 4-6 kg. You can use a jar or a bottle filled with water.
  4. Leave at room temperature for 5-7 days. Every 2 days it is necessary to open the product and pierce it with a wooden stick to release excess gas.
  5. Put the finished product in a glass container and store in the refrigerator.


Thus, sauerkraut is an extremely nutritious and healthy product. It contains many valuable vitamins, macro- and microelements, and also improves the functioning of the digestive system, increases immunity and resistance to infections, heals the skin, reduces mortality from diseases of the cardiological and oncological profile.

Sauerkraut is recommended to be consumed on a regular basis (about 3 times a week, no more than 200 grams per day).

It is also important to note that the cooking process is quite simple, and the cost is low, which makes it affordable for the majority of the population. Study the contraindications to avoid the development of adverse reactions.