Fermented foods have been definitely getting a lot of attention lately, mainly because of their amazing probiotic qualities, and rightfully so. Many of you are already familiar with importance of taking probiotics and their health benefits.
Probiotics have been associated with helping to keep the growth of unfavorable bacteria, yeast and fungi in check; keeping the immune system strong; ameliorating food allergies and inflammatory intestinal disorders; and helping to prevent constipation and other digestive problems.
Of course, you can just take a probiotic pill to get the above benefits, but I believe that it is important to consume probiotics from a whole food-based sauce, and not just rely on supplements. I personally do both: take a good probiotic supplement and eat a lot of fermented foods, primarily sauerkraut. Why? Here are some of the lesser known benefits of consuming fermented foods:
Besides containing live and active probiotics that act like your first line of defense against various harmful bacteria or toxins that might enter your body, fermented foods are high in digestive enzymes that help to break down starches, proteins, and fats.
They have high levels of Vitamin C, for collagen production and as a natural antioxidant for immune system support.
Fermented foods, and especially sauerkraut, contain Vitamin K2, one of the most important nutrients for long-term bone health due to its ability to assist calcium and other minerals to bind into the bone matrix to strengthen bones. This is particularly important for vegans, since vitamin K2 is not easily found in plant-based foods.
Sauerkraut contains adequate amounts of the minerals potassium, iron and magnesium. Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is required for red blood cell formation and muscle building.
Sauerkraut is high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both associated with preserving ocular health.
Fermented foods have increased nutritional value. Lactic-acid fermentation produces and enhances the levels of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
Fermented foods are easier to digest than raw or cooked vegetables. Fermentation breaks down hard-to-digest cellulose.
Fermented foods are safer to eat than raw vegetables. Raw vegetables can have E.coli on them, but lactic acid produced during fermentation kills off the E.coli bacteria. They can’t survive in the acidic environment of fermentation.
You can get raw sauerkraut in natural food stores and some supermarkets, or make it at home. It does take some work and waiting time, but it is definitely worth it. If you do decide to make it, make sure to use fresh, organic ingredients and follow the instructions exactly, as fermentation can be a tricky process. Below are links to some recipes that will help you to get started.
If you are more of an instant gratification person and do not wish to bother with all those fermentation intricacies, Better Vegan now offers raw sauerkraut and fermented pickles to our local subscribers here, on Big Island of Hawaii. To learn more, visit our meal delivery page here.
You can eat sauerkraut with salads, sandwiches, wraps or on its own. I recommend to eat about 1/2 cup every day at dinner time, before eating your main dish. You will see the difference. Do not cook raw sauerkraut, unless you want to, of course, as heating destroys live probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
What other kinds of recipes would you like to see? Let me know!