Finding the sweet spot when eating sauerkraut 

On “Beat Bobby Flay,” when chef Bobby Flay’s world-famous tacos were bested by Brian Tsao’s Korean beef and kimchi version, the not-so-happy Bobby found out the hard way that fermented cabbage (that’s sauerkraut and kimchi) is just what’s needed to create a tasty, healthful meal (and an entertaining TV show).

Wanna give sauerkraut a try? Shred about five pounds of cabbage, then sprinkle it with three tablespoons of salt (it preserves the cabbage while fermentation begins). Place the cabbage in a pot with a weighted lid. After a couple of days, or longer, in a cool environment, the sugar in the cabbage converts into lactic acid. That prevents the cabbage from rotting and encourages the growth of lactobacilli — the probiotics also found in yogurt. For kimchi, before you start fermenting, add red pepper paste, ginger and garlic to the basic sauerkraut recipe.

If you don’t make the sauerkraut or kimchi yourself, just make sure you’re getting all their health benefits and flavor when you buy them: Choose only raw and unpasteurized products, surrounded by a lot of liquid in the jar. It’s true that all fermented foods — that’s also miso, tempeh and kefir — contain gut-friendly bacteria. But cabbage also has anti-cancer compounds called glucosinolates. So get sweet on sauer, and add kimchi or sauerkraut to veggie dumplings or toss into a slaw and use them as condiments with stew or soup.

OAT CUISINE

You may think oatmeal is bland and old-fashioned, but to true believers it’s flavorful and versatile. If you Google it, 12 million results appear, and it has inspired a website called The Oatmeal Artist and a series of comics at TheOatmeal.com. But if you’re like most people, your experience with oatmeal is probably limited to granola, granola bars, cookies and instant cup-of-breakfast servings. So here’s the latest news on what you’re missing.

Opt for eating whole oats: Steel-cut oatmeal takes the longest to digest, has the lowest glycemic index and is the least processed. Rolled flakes are steamed, rolled and toasted. Both deliver soluble fiber — including beta-glucan — that lowers lousy LDL cholesterol, eases constipation, controls appetite, keeps good gut bacteria happy and boosts your immune defense against infection. Whole oats also serve up protein, several B vitamins (B-1, B-6, folate, niacin and more) and minerals such as zinc and manganese. But the big news is that oats and oats alone contain an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer compound called avenanthramide.

So start the day with a bowl of whole oats (no added sugar), fresh fruit and a dollop of nonfat, no-sugar-added Greek yogurt, and get oat-creative.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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