Baseball fans might want to add a little more sauerkraut to their hot dogs: Researchers have identified compounds in the tangy topping, made from fermented cabbage, that may fight cancer. Their study will appear in the Oct. 23 print issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
The researchers found that the process of fermenting cabbage produces isothiocyanates, a class of compounds that have been identified in previous studies as potential cancer-fighting agents. In animal studies, the compounds appear to prevent the growth of cancer, particularly in the breast, colon, lung and liver, they say. No one knows yet whether the compounds, which are not found in raw cabbage, have a similar effect in humans. Further studies are needed, they add.
"We are finding that fermented cabbage could be healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, especially for fighting cancer," says Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, Ph.D., research manager of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, located in Jokioinen, Finland. "We are now working on ways of optimizing the fermentation process to make it even healthier so that consumers will eat more [sauerkraut]."
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