Is Bratwurst Healthy For You?
For tens of millions of Americans, bratwurst is a favorite food. Sometimes referred to as "Midwestern soul food," the bratwurst is a German sausage named for the way it is cooked. Traditionally, these sausages are to be "braten," or simmered (never boiled) in water or beer.
No nutritionist is ever going to recommend bratwurst as a health food. The facts are, however, that bratwurst has some serious nutritional value. Eaten in moderation, bratwurst may not be a health food, but it can be a relatively healthy food. Here are the key reasons why.
Bratwurst is an excellent source of choline. Choline is an essential chemical in the construction of cell membranes, especially in the brain and the heart. It is a precursor of acetylcholine, used in the brain for electrical transmission from neuron to neuron. It is also a precursor of s-adenosylmethionine, better known as SAM-e, the "feel good" chemical that relieves both pain and depression.
Nutritionists might protest that even though bratwurst is a great source of choline, it is still a high-fat food. That is certainly true. Fortunately for millions of bratwurst fans, the majority of the fat in this delicious sausage is the healthier cis- fat rather than the unhealthy trans- fat. Cis- fats travel quickly through the cell membrane to go to the mitochondrial furnaces where they are needed. Trans- fats, which occur in other foods, tend to get "stuck" in the lining of the cells where they oxidize and attract cholesterol.
But isn't bratwurst high in cholesterol? Yes, it is. No one would want to eat a cholesterol-free veggie bratwurst. However, the cholesterol in a serving of bratwurst is less than a quarter of the cholesterol in a serving of eggs, and most of the body's cholesterol is made in the liver, not extracted from food. Giving up bratwurst is not likely to have any significant effect on cholesterol levels.
And there is one way bratwurst really may be a "health" food. Most people are aware of the glycemic index. This number indicates how fast glucose sugars are released from the digestion of the food. White bread, for instance, is digested into sugar very quickly and has a very high glycemic index. White bread around a brat, however, is digested much more slowly. The meat and fat in the brat keep food in the stomach longer, and release carbohydrates to the colon much more slowly.
There really is no way to convince most people that bratwurst is good for you. Eaten in moderation, however, this tasty sausage can be safe treat for healthy people of all ages. Enjoy your brats guilt-free!Photo from Wikipedia by Kobako