The Cabbage Advantage
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
Descended from cabbage grown wild in Mediterranean regions thousands of years ago, the leaves in today’s varieties sometimes have interesting dissimilarities. Some appear wide-spread and waffled, while others are smooth and tightly bunched. The colors vary as well, presenting pale green, blue green, red, reddish purple, and nearly white. All have very short stems which, other than garden dirt on the very end, are just as delicious and nutritious as the leaves.
Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible – sometimes called tender-crisp – to preserve this veggie’s many nutrients.
Coleslaw may be the most familiar cabbage preparation for Americans, but it’s also revered world-wide for the scrumptious flavor it lends to many kinds of hot soup.
Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage has the highest amount of some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables – phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Research has shown these compounds to protect against several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. They also help lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol” levels in blood, which can build up in arteries and cause heart disease.
Rich in vitamin K, cabbage provides 85 percent of the body’s daily requirement. This is very important, not only for bone metabolism, but as a known Alzheimer’s disease preventative by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. The 54 percent daily value of vitamin C supplied to the body with one serving of cabbage is impressive, too – even more than oranges – which can help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals and protect against infection.
Cabbage is also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese, as well as healthy amounts of thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). It also provides iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium for strong bones, and potassium for regulating the heart rate and blood pressure.
Cabbage Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: One cup (89 grams) of raw cabbage
Amt. Per Serving
Studies Done on Cabbage
Evidence in abundance shows cabbage to be an amazing cure for stomach ulcers, due to its high phytonutrient content. One in particular – indole-3-carbinol – has research behind it proving it to prevent and slow the growth of cancer cells.1 Two tablespoons of cooked cabbage a day has been shown to protect study subjects against stomach cancer, and speeding up estrogen metabolism to help block breast cancer and inhibit polyp growth, a forerunner of colon cancer. Another report showed a 66 percent cut in colon cancer in men who ate cabbage once a week.2
Compounds in cabbage strengthen stomach muscles, which helps resist acid attacks, according to another study. A household European remedy for stomach ulcers, backed up by scientific research, showed complete healing within 10 days of drinking just one cup of cabbage juice a day. That study backed up research done in the 1950s in which a quart of cabbage juice was taken per day, with similar healing affect.
Cabbage Healthy Recipes: Indian Cabbage Salad
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 4 cups white or red cabbage, shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat coconut oil.
- 2. Add mustard seeds and turmeric, sauté for 1 minute.
- 3. Stir in cabbage; add salt, stir-fry for a couple more minutes.
- 4. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and let cabbage steam for a couple more minutes.
- 5. Remove from heat and serve. This recipe makes four servings.
Cabbage Fun Facts
Spiced cabbage in vinegar was a staple food for sailors on long voyages, not just for New Year good fortune, but because of the many vitamins, probiotics, and nutrients it provided. Salted boiled cabbage was also added to the rice given to workers on the Great Wall of China, giving them strength and endurance.
Ample proof is available showing cabbage to have more medicinal value than any other natural food. It helps heal stomach ulcers and may help prevent cancer. Colon, prostate, and breast cancer risk are minimized with good amounts of cabbage in the diet. In fact, some studies indicate that cabbage ingestion may be more effective than any other treatment.
Chopped in cold salads for a delicious crunch, added to vegetable soups for a satisfying flavor or even juiced, cabbage is truly a super food.