Before modern day refrigeration, sauerkraut was a perfect solution to the problem of preventing vegetables from spoiling. Sauerkraut would keep for a long time and also provided probiotics (good bacteria) and other nutrients.
Kim Chee is an Asian dish that also has probiotics. Fermentation occurs with lactic acid bacteria and the sugar in the cabbage. The cabbage then is more digestible and offers more nutrients that the body can more easily digest.
"Shipboard records from around the world show that scurvy, a painful and deadly vitamin C deficiency disease that was rampant on shipboard voyages, was a nonexistent problem when perfectly preserved casks of vitamin C containing sauerkraut were regularly opened on long voyages. Not only was the sauerkraut a tasty addition to a sailor's monotonous diet, but the good bacteria likely also protected sailors from getting the digestive complaints that so often plagued these men who boarded in cramped and unhygienic areas below-decks for months, and sometimes even years, on end."