10 Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage is a member of cruciferous family, which includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Native to the western Europe and Mediterranean region, cabbage is one of the oldest known vegetables and has been cultivated for thousands of years in ancient China. Today, cabbage was widely grown in many parts of the world, making it available all year-round.
Cabbage plants grow in a rosette near the ground or on a short stalk. As the plant grows, the leaves increase in number, forming a ball-shaped “head” in the center of the plant. Head cabbage and head lettuce are similar in appearance, but cabbage leaves are usually more tightly wrapped on the head.
There are over 400 different varieties of cabbage to choose from these days, from round to conical in shape, with flat or curly leaves in green, white, red, and purple colors. The most common is the round, light green variety.
Cabbage is an economical and versatile vegetable that is easy to find in any supermarket. This vegetable can be eaten cooked or raw, but it is often fermented to make sauerkraut and kimchi.
Cabbage Nutrition Facts
Cabbage is a rich source of many important vitamins such as vitamin C, K & B vitamins, as well as minerals such as calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.
Cabbage is also a good source of fiber and is packed with various phytonutrients such as sulforaphane and anthocyanins. These compounds are powerful antioxidants which protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals.
In addition, cabbage contains choline, beta-carotene, glutamine, lutein, and zeaxanthin as well as the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin. Red cabbage has the highest amounts of these compounds than green cabbage.
Health Benefits of Cabbage
1. Fights cancer
Like all cruciferous vegetables, cabbage contains phytochemicals that can help remove cancerous compounds from the body and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Lab studies show that one of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables – called sulforaphane – can stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. In addition, two other compounds found in cruciferous vegetables – crambene and indole 3-carbinol – are also suspected of activating detoxification enzymes.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, some components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked with lower risk of breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, and cervix cancer.
2. Lowers cardiovascular disease risk
The anthocyanins in red cabbage help suppress inflammation in the body that may lead to cardiovascular disease. Also, the high polyphenol content in cabbage helps prevent platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure. This, in turn, helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Promotes brain health
Cabbage is a good source of choline, a key nutrient for brain and cellular health. Choline plays an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of cell membranes, which is responsible for memory, focus and concentration.
Moreover, the vitamin K and anthocyanins in cabbage help improve mental function and concentration. Both of these substances have been found largely especially in red cabbage.
4. Prevents cataract risk
Cabbage is rich in beta-carotene which helps protect against age-related macular degeneration and prevent cataracts.
Studies with promising results show that eating cabbage can help to provide a source of value against age related eye problems.
5. Reduces inflammation
An amino acid called glutamine found in cabbage, is a strong anti-inflammatory agent which can help reduce joint pain, arthritis, and relieve allergy symptoms.
6. Supports bone health
Cabbage contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which all are necessary for bone health. Studies have found that these three minerals may help in slowing down the onset of age related bone conditions such as osteoporosis and general bone weakening.
7. Treats peptic ulcers
Cabbage has been historically known to heal ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have found that eating white cabbage is very effective in treating and preventing a wide range of peptic ulcers, including those affecting the stomach .
To treat the conditions, cut half of a raw head of cabbage and put them in a blender to extract the juice. Drink a half cup of this juice before each meal and at bedtime. Repeat daily for a few weeks.
8. Improves digestion
Cabbage is loaded with gut-friendly insoluble fiber that helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk to stools. It also helps promote regular bowel movements.
Furthermore, the water content in cabbage further helps relieve constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
9. Aids in weight loss
Cabbage is a great food choice for weight loss as it is low in calories. In fact, one cup of cooked cabbage contains just only 33 calories. Plus, the fiber present in cabbage keeps you feeling full so you eat less over the course of the day.
10. Skin care
Green cabbage contains indole-3-carbonile, a powerful antioxidant that not only helps cleanse the liver, but also promotes skin health, as it removes toxins that often lead to blemished skin.
Selection and Storage
When choosing cabbage, look for firm, hard heads that are heavy for their size. The outer leaves should be bright color and free from blemishes.
Cabbage should be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag. Uncut cabbage should keep for a couple of weeks. Leafy varieties should be used within a few days.