Sauerkraut is a rich source of probiotics and vitamins. It can aid digestion, boost immunity, and provide other health benefits. It’s also easy to make.

Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage with major health benefits.

It may have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. Back then, fermentation was one of the methods used to keep foods from spoiling quickly.

Sauerkraut survived the test of time to become a popular side dish and condiment in many cultures. It’s especially appreciated in Germany, where its name comes from.

Due to the fermentation it undergoes, sauerkraut offers nutrition and health benefits far beyond those of fresh cabbage.

This article outlines eight health benefits of sauerkraut and provides a step-by-step guide for how to make your own.

Sauerkraut contains many nutrients important for optimal health. One cup (142 grams) provides:

  • Calories: 27
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Carbs: 6.1 grams
  • Fiber: 4.1 grams
  • Protein: 1.3 grams

Sauerkraut also provides a significant portion of your recommended daily value of:

  • sodium
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K1
  • iron
  • manganese
  • vitamin B6
  • folate
  • copper
  • potassium

Sauerkraut is particularly nutritious because it undergoes fermentation, a process during which microorganisms on the cabbage digest its natural sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide and organic acids.

Fermentation starts when naturally present yeast and bacteria come into contact with the sugars in the cabbage.

Sauerkraut fermentation creates conditions that promote the growth of beneficial probiotics, bacteria that provide powerful health benefits. Probiotics also help make foods more digestible, which increases your gut’s ability to absorb the vitamins and minerals they contain.

However, unlike cabbage, sauerkraut can be high in sodium. Keep this in mind if you’re watching your salt intake.


Sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Its probiotics also help your body absorb these nutrients more easily, which is what makes sauerkraut more nutritious than raw cabbage or coleslaw.

Experts estimate your gut to contain over 38 trillion microorganisms or “gut flora,” which is more than the total number of human cells in your body. These bacteria play a key role in your digestion.

Like some other fermented foods, sauerkraut promotes healthy gut flora. The probiotic bacteria in unpasteurized sauerkraut can act as a first line of defense against toxins and harmful bacteria.

Probiotics like those found in sauerkraut can also reduce or prevent diarrhea from antibiotic use and reduce digestive symptoms linked to inflammatory bowel disease, though research is limited.

Different probiotic strains may provide varying advantages. Older research identified that one serving of sauerkraut may contain up to 28 distinct bacterial strains. Consuming this wide variety of strains may give you a broader range of health benefits.

Like most other fermented foods, sauerkraut also contains various enzymes which help break down nutrients into smaller, more easily digestible molecules.


Sauerkraut is a source of probiotics, which promote healthy gut bacteria and aid digestion. It also contains enzymes that help your body absorb nutrients more easily.

Sauerkraut is a source of probiotics and nutrients that support your immune system.

For starters, the bacteria that populate your gut can have a strong influence on your immune system. The probiotics found in sauerkraut may help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, which helps keep your gut lining healthy.

A stronger gut lining helps prevent unwanted substances from “leaking” into your body and causing an immune response.

Maintaining a healthy gut flora also helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and may even boost the production of natural antibodies.

Regularly consuming probiotic foods like sauerkraut may reduce your risk of developing infections like the common cold and urinary tract infections. It may also help you recover faster.

Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamin C and iron, both of which contribute to a healthy immune system.


Sauerkraut is a source of probiotics, vitamin C, and iron, all of which contribute to a stronger immune system.

Regularly consuming sauerkraut may help you lose weight and keep it off. That’s partly because sauerkraut, like most vegetables, is low in calories and high in fiber.

High fiber diets keep you fuller for longer, which may help you naturally reduce your daily calorie intake.

Sauerkraut’s probiotic content may also contribute to a trimmer waistline.

The exact reasons aren’t yet fully understood, but scientists believe that certain probiotics may have the ability to reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from your diet.

But more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of sauerkraut-specific probiotic strains on weight loss.


Sauerkraut’s low calorie, high fiber, and high probiotic content may help prevent weight gain and promote the loss of unwanted body fat.

A healthy gut flora may also improve your mood and brain function. This is due to an intimate connection between your gut and brain. Gut bacteria may be able to send messages to your brain, influencing how it functions and perceives the world.

Fermented, probiotic foods such as sauerkraut contribute to the creation of a healthy gut flora, which research shows may help reduce stress and maintain brain health. Various studies show that probiotics can improve

  • mood
  • memory
  • symptoms of anxiety, depression, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder

Older research suggests that fermented foods like sauerkraut may improve mood by increasing your gut’s absorption of mood-regulating minerals, including magnesium and zinc.

That said, some researchers warn that compounds in sauerkraut may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of medication prescribed to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and Parkinson’s disease.

People taking these medications should consult a healthcare professional before adding sauerkraut to their diet.


Sauerkraut promotes healthy gut flora and may increase the absorption of mood-regulating minerals from your diet. Both of these effects help reduce stress and maintain brain health.

Cabbage, the main ingredient in sauerkraut, contains antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

The cabbage fermentation process may also create particular plant compounds that suppress the growth of precancerous cells.

For example, a recent study of Polish immigrants in the United States found that consuming more cabbage and sauerkraut significantly reduced breast cancer risk.

The beneficial compounds in cabbage may also protect against:

However, the number of studies is limited, and not all studies found the same results. Thus, more are needed before strong conclusions can be made.


Sauerkraut contains beneficial plant compounds that may reduce the risk of cancer cells developing and spreading.

Sauerkraut may contribute to a healthier heart.

That’s because it contains a good amount of fiber and probiotics, both of which may help reduce cholesterol levels.

Probiotics such as those found in sauerkraut may also help lower blood pressure slightly in people with hypertension.

Moreover, sauerkraut is one of the rare plant sources of menaquinone, more commonly known as vitamin K2.

Experts believe vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing calcium deposits from accumulating in your arteries.


The fiber, probiotic, and vitamin K2 contents of sauerkraut may contribute to lower cholesterol levels, slight improvements in blood pressure, and a lower risk of heart disease.

The vitamin K2 in sauerkraut also plays an important role in bone health.

More specifically, vitamin K2 activates proteins that bind to calcium, the main mineral found in bones.

Experts believe this contributes to stronger, healthier bones. In fact, several studies have shown that vitamin K2 may benefit bone health.

However, it’s unclear whether the vitamin K2 of sauerkraut is enough to provide a significant benefit. More research is needed.


Sauerkraut contains vitamin K2, a nutrient that promotes healthier, stronger bones.

You can find sauerkraut easily in most supermarkets, but not all types you’ll come across will be the same.

To ensure you get the most out of store-bought sauerkraut, try to keep these simple tips in mind:

  • Avoid pasteurized varieties: Off-the-shelf sauerkraut is typically pasteurized, a process that kills the beneficial probiotics. Refrigerated varieties are less likely to be pasteurized, but check the label to be sure.
  • Avoid preservatives: Many store-bought sauerkraut brands contain preservatives, which may lower the probiotic count.
  • Avoid added sugar: Sauerkraut should only contain two basic ingredients: cabbage and salt. Some varieties may also add extra vegetables, but avoid those that add sugar or anything else to the mix.

You will get the most benefits out of store-bought sauerkraut by opting for non-pasteurized varieties that don’t contain added sugars or preservatives.

To make sure you get all the health benefits of sauerkraut, you can make it yourself. Making sauerkraut is easy, simple, and inexpensive. Here’s how:

Basic Sauerkraut


  • 1 medium green cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of non-iodized salt
  • 2–3 carrots, shredded (optional)
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)

Have a 1-quart (1-liter) jar ready to keep the sauerkraut in, a 4-ounce (120-mL) smaller jar to press it down, and a kitchen scale to weigh your cabbage mixture.


  1. If you wish to add carrots and garlic, start by placing them in a large bowl.
  2. Discard the outer leaves of your cabbage, setting one nicer leaf aside. Then, slice the cabbage into quarters, leaving the core in. This makes shredding easier.
  3. Shred the cabbage quarters into the large bowl with the carrot and garlic mix. Incorporate enough cabbage to bring the total weight up to 28 ounces (800 grams), which will fit a 1-quart (1-liter) jar.
  4. Add salt and massage it into the cabbage mixture for a few minutes until brine starts accumulating at the bottom of your bowl.
  5. Pack the cabbage mixture into a clean, 1-quart (1-liter) jar, pressing down to get rid of air pockets. Pour the remaining brine into the jar. Air in the jar enables harmful bacteria to grow, so make sure the mixture is completely submerged.
  6. Trim the cabbage leaf you set aside earlier to the size of your jar opening. Place it in the jar on top of the mixture to prevent veggies from floating to the surface.
  7. Place a 4-ounce (120-mL) jelly jar with no lid inside the larger jar, on top of the mixture. This will hold your veggie mixture below the brine during fermentation.
  8. Screw the lid onto your 1-quart (1-liter) jar. It will press the jelly jar down, keeping your cabbage mixture below the brine. Leave the lid slightly loose, which will allow gases to escape during the fermentation process.
  9. Keep it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 1–4 weeks.

Keep in mind that the larger the head of cabbage you start with, the sweeter and better your sauerkraut will taste.

If you’re impatient to taste your creation, you can do so after 7 days. The longer you allow it to ferment, the stronger the taste will be.

Here are some additional sauerkraut recipes:


Follow the steps above to make your own inexpensive, tasty sauerkraut at home.

What does sauerkraut do for your bowels?

Sauerkraut contains probiotics, which can help support digestion by improving your gut flora, or the bacteria that live in your gut. Sauerkraut also contains fiber, which can help reduce your risk of constipation and have more regular bowel movements.

Is it OK to eat sauerkraut every day?

You can eat sauerkraut every day. But if you’re looking to benefit your gut bacteria, you can also eat other fermented foods and beverages like kimchi and kombucha. Yogurt also contains beneficial probiotics. Each product can contain different strains of bacteria, which may vary in their benefits.

What kind of sauerkraut is best for the gut?

Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut contains beneficial probiotics that generally do not survive the pasteurization process. You can typically find these in the refrigerated sections of some grocery stores, but it’s best to check the label to make sure your sauerkraut has not been pasteurized.

Is there vitamin K2 in sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut and other fermented foods contain vitamin K2 (menaquinone).

Sauerkraut is incredibly nutritious and healthy.

It provides probiotics and vitamin K2, which are known for their health benefits, and many other nutrients.

Eating sauerkraut may help strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion, reduce your risk of certain diseases, and even lose weight.

To reap the greatest benefits, try eating a little bit of sauerkraut each day.