Most people are familiar with sauerkraut as a topping for a Chicago-style hotdog or a necessary ingredient for a Reuben sandwich.
While sauerkraut goes great with these dishes, however, it is sometimes overlooked as a health food. Just what is so great about this stuff? Read on to find out more about the amazing benefits of sauerkraut!
What is Sauerkraut?
Many people are not even quite sure of what sauerkraut is? To clear things up, it is a fermented cabbage dish whose name is German for “sour white cabbage”.
As mentioned previously, it is best known in America as a hot dog or Reuben ingredient, but in Germany and other places in Europe, it is consumed much more frequently.
It has long been known there for its health benefits: this is because cabbage itself provides the body with a wealth of nutrients to promote good health, but these benefits are intensified by the fermentation process. Let’s have a look at what this dish can really do.
The Cancer-Fighting Power of Sauerkraut
Back in 2005, a team of medical researchers made the discovery that the rate of breast cancer for Polish women who had immigrated to the United States was substantially higher than rates of this cancer for Polish women still living in their native country.
They surveyed Polish women living in Chicago and Detroit with those still living in Poland and found that one difference in lifestyle that might account for the difference in cancer rates was the difference in their rate of sauerkraut consumption: Polish American women ate around ten pounds of this dish annually, while the women still living in Poland ate around 30. ( Source )
Another, more recent study, published in 2012, showed similar findings: women who had a larger rate of consumption of both cabbage and sauerkraut showed a significant reduction in the incidence of breast cancer.(Source)
How Does Sauerkraut Work?
At this point, many people may be curious about just why this fermented cabbage dish could have such an impact on something as serious as breast cancer rates.
The first thing to know about sauerkraut is that, like cabbage itself, it is high in compound called glucosinolates, plant-based chemicals which have a proven track record for fighting cancer.
The presence of these compounds in the body can decrease cellular DNA damage and also the rates of mutation and also inhibit the process by which cancer cells grow at such high rates. All of this can help to both prevent and treat cancer.
Also, a particular enzyme in cabbage called P450 is responsible for breaking down estrogen; high levels of estrogen are considered a major risk factor for breast cancer development, so this might explain why increased concentrations of this enzyme in the diet could have an impact on the onset of breast cancer.
Sauerkraut, like all fermented foods, also is rich in probiotic bacteria that can restore the natural flora in your intestinal tract and not only improve digestion but strengthen the immune system, which can also help in your body’s fight against cancer.
Short, it seems that sauerkraut consumption truly is good for your health, especially if you have a family or personal history of breast cancer and would like to decrease your chances of developing it naturally through nutrition.