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The Forgotten Health Benefit Of Sauerkraut (And It Involves Pirates!)

Written By Joseph Jackson 16 Nov 2019

I was listening to The Kitchen Cabinet podcast last weekend when the panel’s topic turned to sauerkraut. We all know how trendy this fermented cabbage dish is at the moment…but I was amazed to hear of this health claim..

The Forgotten Health Benefit Of Sauerkraut (And It Involves Pirates!)

Did you know that sauerkraut is a great source of Vitamin C?

I was listening to The Kitchen Cabinet podcast last weekend when the panel’s topic turned to sauerkraut. We all know how trendy this fermented cabbage dish is at the moment…but I was amazed to hear that sauerkraut was eaten to prevent scurvy in Captain James Cook’s crew of the HMS Endeavour 250 years ago!

The Navy had been suffering losses of nearly three-quarters of its crews during long voyages because of scurvy. Whilst they didn’t understand that scurvy was due to a lack of Vitamin C, they soon realised that a diet that included fresh fruit and vegetables – and sauerkraut – prevented the condition.

Along with fruit and vegetables, Captain Cook ordered more than 3 tonnes of sauerkraut for his 3-year voyage to Australasia, with nearly 100 men to feed. The strategy worked – Cook is credited with never losing a crew member solely to scurvy.

We now understand the science behind the fermentation magic that gives sauerkraut yet another superfood trait in its long list of benefits. Cabbage naturally contains high levels of Vitamin C. The fermentation process creates CO2, which stops oxygen from attacking the Vitamin C in cabbage. No degradation means that sauerkraut is a long-life source of Vit C, perfect for long voyages…or, at the very least, long winters!

Especially in these colder months, we need to boost vitamin levels to ward off winter viruses. Sauerkraut is chock full of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Grab a jar of our best-selling range from The Sauerkraut Company, or go down the exotic route with some Kim Kong Kimchi. Enjoy it on a slice of toasted rye, as a side dish to your meal, or even just straight out of the jar (I know I’m not the only one who does this!), and you’ll prevent scurvy like Captain Cook!