Cabbage is a member of the Brassicaceae family, whose other members include broccoli, cauliflower, kale and turnip.
Native to the Mediterranean and the European coastal regions, cabbage has been cultivated for thousands of years, since the times of Ancient Greece. Today, cabbage is probably one of the most widely cultivated plants worldwide in both tropical and semitropical regions.
There are over 400 varieties of cabbage grown around the world varying in shape (from round to conical) and color (green, white, red, and purple). 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 low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese, and potassium. According to USDA FoodData Central, one cup (89 grams) of chopped raw cabbage contains:
- 22 calories
- 82 g of water
- 5.2 g of carbohydrate
- 1.1 g of protein
- 2.2 g of fiber
- 32.6 mg of vitamin C
- 67.6 mcg of vitamin K
- 35.6 mg of calcium
- 151 mg of potassium
- 10.7 mg of magnesium
Cabbage is also loaded with a variety of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane, and anthocyanins. These plant compounds are potent antioxidants, which are known to help protect against disease and maintain health.
In addition, cabbage contains choline and glutamine, which offer some additional nutritional benefits.
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 help prevent cancer by enhancing the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body .
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 reduces 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 are found largely in red cabbage.
4. 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.
According to a study, glutamine could suppress intestinal inflammation . Also, several research have supported the effects of cabbage leaves on helping with inflammation of any body part .
5. Treats peptic ulcers
Cabbage has been historically known to heal ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
In one study, 13 participants with peptic ulcers were given around one liter of fresh cabbage juice throughout the day, and all of these participants’ ulcers healed after 7–10 days of treatment .
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.
6. Reduces diabetes risk
Red cabbage has been found to have anti-hyperglycemic properties, which can cut the risk of diabetes .
The anthocyanins found in cabbage could also helps in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes .
7. Maintains eye health
Cabbage, especially red cabbage, is rich in beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which all work to maintain eye health.
Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body that is responsible for transmitting light sensation in the retina of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that provide protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
8. Maintains skin health
Cabbage is high in vitamin C, which promotes the production of collagen, a structural protein that helps with skin formation and wound healing.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and the environment, which can lead to premature aging.
A 100-gram serving of cabbage has 36.6 mg of vitamin C, meeting more than 60 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
9. 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.
10. Improves digestion
Cabbage is loaded with gut-friendly insoluble fiber that helps keep the digestive system healthy by promoting regular bowel movements.
Moreover, the water content in cabbage also helps to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Selection and Storage
When buying a cabbage head, choose one that is firm and heavy for its size with fresh, crisp-looking leaves that are tightly packed. Avoid heads with loose or missing leaves as this indicates an older cabbage.
Store the whole head of cabbage in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If uncut, compact cabbage should keep for a couple of weeks. Sliced cabbage stored in a perforated plastic bag will keep 5 to 6 days. The looser-leaved Savoy variety should be used within a few days.