The cabbage is a member of the Brassicaceae family of plants, which contains other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and radishes. Cabbage, as it is cultivated today, was derived from a leafy wild mustard plant native to the Mediterranean region. Throughout its history, it has also been referred to as sea cabbage and wild cabbage with the ancient Greeks and Romans praising the plant for its medicinal properties.
Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and it also contains significant amounts of glutamine, which is an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. When cabbage is boiled and cooked with other meats and vegetables, it is a great source of dietary fiber. It also contains a certain chemical that is used to treat and prevent certain respiratory diseases. Some folk medicines apply cabbage leaves directly to injuries to reduce swelling, first applying a cabbage paste and then wrapping the area with a leaf.
Many societies throughout time have eaten cabbage as a staple crop. The plant consists of a spherical cluster of leaves circling out from the core, and these immature leaves are the only part of the head that is eaten. Cabbage can be consumed raw, cooked or preserved in a variety of dishes.
Raw cabbage is sliced into thin strips and used in a salad or coleslaw. It can also be used in pico de gallo as well as in sandwiches as a replacement for iceberg lettuce. Cooked cabbage is primarily found in soups and stews, popular throughout central and eastern Europe. Although boiled cabbage has taken on a bad reputation in North America because of its odor, it is enjoyed all over the world.
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