Simple Palate: Sauerkraut, The Unlikely Superfood

Sauerkraut boasts a triple threat reputation as an immune booster, cancer fighter and digestive aid.

A hot dog diet may not earn you brownie points at your next doctor visit, but loading up on sauerkraut might.

In a category dominated by exotic berries and dark leafy vegetables, sauerkraut is making a name for themselves in the fight for the ultimate superfood title. As the original probiotic superfood, sauerkraut’s tart-tasting qualities are equivalent to your staple dairy products, as its composed of good bacteria and antioxidants created during the fermentation process.

Similar to yogurt, the fermentation process makes cabbage healthier and more digestible than the plant in its raw form. When not fermented, cabbage contains goitrogens that can block the production of thyroid hormones, which are essential to proper development of our cells. During fermentation, goitrogens are eliminated and produce an increased level of B vitamins, including vitamin B12 – a key supplement for vegans.

In addition to reducing toxins, the fermentation process creates phytochemicals to boost immunity; isothiocynates to prevent cancer growth – particularly in the breast, colon and liver; and the bacterium lactobacilli plantarum to aid in digestion.

So if you can get passed its modern “acquired” taste, look for sauerkraut labels stating “raw” or “unpasteurized.”

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Cielestia Calbay is the associate editor of Competitor Magazine. If she’s not at the office, you’ll probably find her outdoors or scouring the area for the nearest juice bar. She can be reached at ccalbay@competitorgroup.com or @ccalbay.

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