Posted on Jun 18, 2020, 5 p.m.
Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables alongside the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts among other veggies.
Just one cup of this chopped vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C and K containing 22 calories, 0.1 grams of fat, 5.2 grams of carbs, 2.2 grams of fiber, 2.8 grams of sugar, 1.1 grams of protein, 16 mg of sodium, and zero cholesterol. One cup is a single serving, and cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked as a low calories option that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that pack a powerful healthy punch.
That same one cup of chopped cabbage also contains 56% of the daily recommended value for vitamin K, 35% of DRV for vitamin C, 10% of the DRV of folate, 6% of manganese, 6% of the DRV for vitamin B6, 5% vitamin B1, 4% for B5, 3% calcium, 3% of the DRV for magnesium, 3% potassium, 3% vitamin B2, and 3% of the daily recommended value for vitamin A.
Cabbage is available in four major types, green, red, savoy and Napa: Green cabbage ranges from pale to dark green, red cabbage looks purple-ish with white veins running throughout, while Napa and savoy cabbage are yellowish to pale green in color. Green and red cabbage have leaves with a smooth texture, while Napa and savoy leaves are more ruffled. Red and green cabbage have a crunchy and pronounced taste, while Napa and savoy have a more delicate and mild flavor.
Just like many other cruciferous vegetables cabbage carries an impressive nutritional profile that comes with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to afford a range of health benefits making it an item worthy of being added to your diet.
According to NIH getting enough vitamin D and K is a key part of bone metabolism and bone health as they bear the brunt of our weight 24/7/52 and as such they are constantly breaking down and being rebuilt. According to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research a deficiency in vitamin K is associated with increased risk of osteoarthritis and fractures in older adults. Another study published in Open Orthopedical Journal suggests that getting enough vitamin K can help rescue bone breakdown and improve bone strength.
The American Cancer Society recommends adding cruciferous vegetables to the diet on a regular basis to help reduce the risk of cancer. These veggies contain glucosinolates which are sulfur containing chemicals that have been shown to have anticancer properties. According to the National Cancer Institute glucosinolates breakdown when cooked and consumed to form biologically active compounds that are associated with preventing the development of cancer. A study published in BBA Review On Cancer Journal suggests that maintaining a higher cruciferous vegetable intake reduces the incidence of cancer. According to Harvard Health Publishing antioxidants help to protect our cells from oxidative stress, eating the rainbow of colors from plant foods such as cabbage is linked to a decreased risk of a variety of cancers.
A study published in Nutrients suggests that vitamin C has many roles in the human body, including being an immune supporting antioxidant. Cabbage contains 36% of the daily recommended value for vitamin C, which helps to protect DNA from free radicals and a range of health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, as well as colds and flus according to NIH. Vitamin C also helps with the absorption of non-heme iron. According to a report published in Antioxidants, non-heme iron is found in plant based foods, we are not able to easily absorb non-heme iron but vitamin C acts synergistically to help us absorb this nutrient.
Cabbage is typically regarded as being safe for most people to consume and it is not known to be associated with any food allergies. That being said some cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens which according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research may interfere with thyroid hormone actions in certain cases, particularly when iodine levels are low. Cooking may help to inactive the goitrogenic compounds, but if consuming raw be sure to get enough iodine when consuming more than 4 servings per week.
According to NIH vitamin K may interact with some medications, and certain medications can have an adverse effect on vitamin K levels. This vitamin is important to blood clotting, high levels can dilute the effects of blood thinners, as such be sure to discuss your medications and food interactions with your health care professional to avoid any possible reactions.
Cabbage can typically be found in the grocery store all year long. When doing so be sure to look for cabbage that is dense and firm with shiny and colorful leaves showing no signs of cracks, decay, bruises or blemishes, additionally the outer leaves should largely be firmly attached to the stem.
For convenience you can also purchase precut, halved, or shredded cabbage. It is best to store cabbage in the refrigerator to prolong the shelf life, making sure to place it in a perforated plastic bag in a crisper drawer where green and red cabbage could last about 2 weeks while Napa and savoy will only keep for about a week.
It is easier to incorporate cabbage into your diet than you may think, it can be grilled, baked, roasted, put in salad, turned into coleslaw, shredded for pitas, sauteed, turned into kimchi or sauerkraut, used as a side dish, or used as a wrap for a sandwich or burger bun, and eaten raw.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.