What Is Cabbage Good For?

The Cabbage Advantage
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea

Cabbage Nutrition Facts

The cabbage we know today wildly differs from its Mediterranean ancestors long ago.1 The leaves are widely spread and waffled, while others are smooth and tightly bunched. The colors vary as well, presenting pale and deep green, red and nearly white.2

Despite the differences, all varieties are good for your health. Cabbage belongs to the Brassica family, which includes broccoli, kale, radish, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower — vegetables that have good reputations as well.3,4

Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible — sometimes called tender-crisp — to help preserve its many nutrients. Coleslaw may be the most familiar cabbage preparation in American cuisine, as it has been part of it since 1770.5

But cabbage is also revered worldwide for the scrumptious flavor it lends to many kinds of hot soup.

Health Benefits of Cabbage

Just like other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage can offer powerful antioxidants, such as:6

  • Choline — This nutrient may help improve memory, reduce risk of neural tube defects (in pregnant women) and lower inflammation.7
  • Beta-carotene — One study shows that beta-carotene may help reduce damage in lymphocyte DNA caused by smoking cigarettes.8
  • Lutein — The European Journal of Nutrition notes that lutein may reduce the risk of macular degeneration.9
  • Quercetin — This flavonoid may help fight bacteria, particularly strains resistant to antibiotics.10

Rich in vitamin K, cabbage provides 85 percent of the body’s daily requirement.11 This nutrient is important not only for bone health,12 but also as an Alzheimer's disease preventative by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.13

The 54 percent daily value of vitamin C supplied to the body with one serving of cabbage is impressive,14 too — even more than oranges. Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients required by humans as it plays a role in brain health,15 immune system health,16,17 inflammation,18 blood pressure19 and mitochondrial function.20

Cabbage is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is a substance crucial for a healthy digestive system. Dietary fiber is the part of the vegetable that cannot be digested, wherein it passes through your digestive system mostly intact. As a result, it bulks and softens your stool, helping facilitate regular bowel movements.21

Cabbage is rich in other nutrients such as 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.22,23,24 Check out the other nutrition facts of cabbage below. 25

Cabbage Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), green, raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 25  
Calories from Fat 0.7  
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 g
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 18 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.8 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g 9%
Sugar 3.2 g  
Protein 1.28 g  
Vitamin A 98 IU Vitamin C 36.6 mg
Calcium 40 mg Iron 0.47 mg

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Studies Done on Cabbage

Evidence shows cabbage may be effective in managing stomach ulcers due to its high phytonutrient content. One in particular — indole-3-carbinol — has research showing it may help slow the growth of cancer cells.26 In general, regular consumption of cabbage has been shown to help lower the risk of stomach cancer.27

Another report showed a 66 percent reduced risk of colon cancer in men who ate cabbage once a week.28 In another study, participants suffering from stomach ulcers exhibited complete healing within 10 days of drinking just one cup of cabbage juice a day.29

How to Grow Good Cabbage

Growing your own cabbage is the best way of gaining the benefits of this mighty vegetable. Not only do you have access to fresh leaves whenever you need it for meals, you also avoid ingesting toxic herbicides and pesticides used in conventionally grown vegetables.

Start by making sure your garden soil has a pH level above 6.8, and is well-draining and rich in organic matter.30 Plant cabbage seeds, spacing them 18 to 24 inches apart in a row. This will provide ample space for each cabbage to fully mature once they sprout.31 Maintenance requires constant watering so that the plants do not split. Cabbage can tolerate full light exposure, but grows best when it has some shade.32

6 Steps to Growing the Best Cabbages

Cabbage Healthy Recipes:
Indian Cabbage Salad

Cabbage Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 cups white or red cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon salt

 

Procedure:

  1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil.
  2. Add mustard seeds and turmeric, sauté for one minute.
  3. Stir in cabbage; add salt and stir-fry for a couple more minutes.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover and let the cabbage steam for a couple more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and serve. This recipe makes four servings.

(From "Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type" by Dr. Joseph Mercola)

How to Pick Good Cabbage

Harvesting cabbage depends on the maturity of their heads. You’ll know it’s ready when the head is firm all the way no matter the size.33 You may also use measuring tools to help you — a full-size head stands around 20 inches tall with 5 inches of circumference.34

Another thing to consider is the species you planted. Napa cabbage takes around 70 to 80 days to fully mature.35 The Early Jersey Wakefield, on the other hand, completely matures in 63 days only, while hybrid types can take anywhere from 71 to 88 days. Ask your seed supplier for your cabbage’s growing time for your reference.36

Cut at the lowest point of the cabbage while leaving the outermost leaves attached to the stalk. This allows the stem to sprout a new cabbage, saving you time on growing entirely new crops. You may want to harvest before rainfall as well, as excess water can destroy the quality of the leaves.37

Cabbage Fun Facts

Coleslaw, one of the most popular cabbage dishes around, has a history going back to ancient Rome when citizens prepared a mixture of the vegetable, along with egg, vinegar and spices.38 Boiled cabbage was also fed to the workers who built the Great Wall of China, along with a small serving of rice.39

Summary

There’s plenty of proof that cabbage can benefit for your health. It may help manage stomach ulcers and lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colon, prostate and breast cancers. As long as you include this vegetable in your diet, you’ll be taking in the nutrients responsible for these benefits.

Aside from being healthy, cabbage is adaptable in various culinary applications. Chopped in cold salads for a delicious crunch, added to vegetable soups for a satisfying flavor or even juiced, cabbage is a food that can be utilized in many cuisines.


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