April is gut health month, and we’re celebrating with this simple Vegetarian Sauerkraut Sandwich! Our gut is home to over 100 trillion microorganisms that help digest food, regulate the immune system, and protect against disease. Many eating patterns support optimal gut health, including fermented foods like sauerkraut, but are all fermented foods created equal?
Guest post by St. Louis University Dietetic Intern, Maddie Puto
What are fermented foods, and how do they benefit me?
Fermented foods are those that undergo microbial growth which breakdown food components through enzymatic conversions. These foods, like sauerkraut, can increase the availability of nutrients such as fiber, protein, calcium, and vitamin D to the body. For individuals with irritable bowl syndrome, the process of fermentation can improve digestibility of food due to lower fructan or lactose content. Foods, like the sauerkraut used in this Vegetarian Sauerkraut Sandwich, also introduce “good” bacteria that help digest food and keep the “bad” bacteria in check. More diversity in your gut bacteria can help reduce risk of chronic disease, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Which fermented foods count?
The microbes in fermentation are still alive in foods like yogurt, kefir, (most) cheeses, some beers, and sauerkraut. Some foods that undergo fermentation are further processed through pasteurization or baking so the microbes are no longer alive such as bread, smoked sausage, soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and coffee.
The Short-Cut in our Vegetarian Sauerkraut Sandwich
Sauerkraut is our winning short-cut ingredient because it’s ready to eat at any time and adds both tangy flavor and beneficial gut bugs to our belly! Add sauerkraut to salsa, avocado toast, on top of burgers, and even in your smoothies! When looking for sauerkraut at the store, look for labels that say ‘raw,’ ‘live,’ or ‘probiotics’ and avoid vinegar based products.
Get more short-cut recipes HERE.