10 – Cabbage and eye health
Cabbage, especially red cabbage, is an excellent source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A (retinol) in the body. Vitamin A helps to improve vision and is needed for the health of your eyes.
Moderate vitamin A deficiency can result in “night blindness”. Severe vitamin A deficiency can result in dryness and opacity of the cornea.
History of cabbage
Cabbage belongs to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. These include other vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower. There are over four hundred different varieties of cabbage to choose from. Some of the more popular varieties are red, green, savoy, bok choy, napa and Chinese cabbage.
The exact history of cabbage is difficult to trace, but it’s believed to have been domesticated before 1000 BC somewhere in Europe. The first pickled version of cabbage was made by soldiers in Mongolia and China. Pickled and fermented cabbage was taken by Hun and Mongol warriors to Europe.
Cabbage cultivation eventually spread from northern Europe into Poland, Germany, and Russia. The high vitamin C content of the fermented cabbage dish known as sauerkraut helped prevent scurvy for sailors. Early German settlers introduced cabbage and sauerkraut into the United States.
China, Poland, Japan and The Russian Federation are some of the leading producers of cabbage today.