Why we avoid it:
Not everyone enjoys the pungent, sour and vinegary taste of fermented cabbage unless it’s piled on top of a hot dog and slathered with mustard. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
Why we should eat it:
Like kimchi, sauerkraut combines the nutritional excellence of cabbage with the probiotic power of fermentation. The fermentation process increases the availability and utilization of vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut, making it more nutritious than the original cabbage. Consequently, it is extremely high in in vitamin C, B and K, and very high in calcium and magnesium.
To reap sauerkraut’s benefits, however, you must eat it raw and unpasteurized. That way it’ll contain live lactobacilli (more than there is in live yogurt) and other good microbes. Along with the fiber content of sauerkraut, these probiotics improve digestion and increases the healthy flora in your gut. And a healthy gut means a healthy immune system since the two are tightly connected. Sauerkraut has always been known to have medicinal qualities, but there is renewed interest in examining its cancer-fighting properties after several observational studies found that consumption was linked to significantly reduced incidences of prostate cancer. The compound that is thought to be responsible is called indole-3-carbinol, and although it’s proven effective in animals, results in humans are still inconclusive. Another anti-cancer compound that occurs in sauerkraut is isothiocyanate, which seems to help the liver with its detoxifying activity. When looking for kraut, don’t confuse it for coleslaw, which is unfermented shredded cabbage, and quite different. If you can’t find the raw unpasteurised kind, look for the fresh stuff in the refrigerated sections of natural health food stores and in barrels in Polish or German delicatessens that still make their own. Or better yet, learn how to make your own. Apparently it’s super easy.