Cabbage

CabbageCabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne (Capitata Group) of the Family Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae) and is used as a leafy green vegetable. It is a herbaceous, biennial, dicotyledonous flowering plant distinguished by a short stem upon which is crowded a mass of leaves, usually green but in some varieties red or purplish, which while immature form a characteristic compact, globular cluster (cabbagehead).

The plant is also called head cabbage or heading cabbage, and in Scotland a bowkail, from its rounded shape. The Scots call its stalk a castock, and the British occasionally call its head a loaf. It is in the same genus as the turnip – Brassica rapa.

Cabbage leaves often have a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The occasionally sharp or bitter taste of cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of riboflavin.

The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that “It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables.” The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length.

Uses

Cabbage is the basis for sauerkraut. Chinese suan cai and Korean kimchi are produced using the related Chinese cabbage. To pickle cabbage it is covered with a brine made of its own juice with salt, and left in a warm place for several weeks to ferment. Sauerkraut (colloquially referred to as “kraut”) was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. The word comes from German sauer (sour) and kraut (plant or cabbage) (Old High German sūr and krūt). Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables (turnips can be cured in the same way). Korean baechu kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chiles, minced garlic and ginger is common.

Why Sauerkraut is good?

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Medicinal properties

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a low calorie food.

Along with broccoli and other brassica vegetables, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. The compound is also used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death. Boiling reduces anti-cancer properties.

In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.

Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers.

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