HEALTHY FOOD

9 Impressive Health Benefits of Cabbage

Despite its impressive nutrient content, cabbage is often overlooked.

While it may look like lettuce, it belongs to the Brassica genus of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.

It comes in various shapes and colors, including red, purple, white, and green, and its leaves can be crinkled or smooth.

This vegetable has been grown worldwide for thousands of years and can be found in various dishes, including sauerkraut, kimchi, and coleslaw.

Additionally, cabbage is loaded with vitamins and minerals.

This article uncovers nine surprising health benefits of cabbage, all backed by science.

1. Cabbage Is Packed With Nutrients

Cabbage is a widely used vegetable in many cuisines. Here are ten tasty and easy ways to prepare cabbage.

Even though cabbage is very low in calories, it has an impressive nutrient profile.

Just 1 cup (89 grams) of raw green cabbage contains:

  • Calories: 22
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 85% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 54% of the RDI
  • Folate: 10% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 3% of the RDI

Cabbage also contains small amounts of other micronutrients, including vitamin A, iron, and riboflavin.

As you can see in the list above, it is rich in vitamin B6 and folate, both of which are essential for many vital processes in the body, including energy metabolism and the normal functioning of the nervous system.

In addition, cabbage is high in fiber and contains powerful antioxidants, including polyphenols and sulfur compounds.

Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an odd number of electrons, making them unstable. When their levels become too high, they can damage your cells.

Cabbage is exceptionally high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and vision loss.

Summary: Cabbage is a low-calorie
vegetable that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2. It May Help Keep Inflammation in Check

Cabbage is one of the most versatile vegetables. Virtually any way you cook it, cabbage is great. One of my favorites is to fry it in a bit of bacon fat, then serve it with a sauce of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing.

Your body relies on the inflammatory response to protect against infection or speed up healing. This acute inflammation is a normal response to an injury or illness.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation that occurs over a long period is associated with many diseases, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage contain many different antioxidants that have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation.

Research has shown that eating more cruciferous vegetables reduces specific blood markers of inflammation.

One study including over 1,000 Chinese women showed that those who ate the highest amounts of cruciferous vegetables had considerably lower levels of inflammation compared to those who ate the most insufficient amounts.

Sulforaphane, kaempferol, and other antioxidants found in this remarkable group of plants are likely responsible for their anti-inflammatory effect.

Summary: Cabbage contains powerful
antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation.

3. Cabbage Is Packed With Vitamin C

Cabbage is a good source of folate, vitamin C, and fiber. It can lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. You can add this vegetable to food or eat a raw one as a snack.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that serves many vital roles in the body.

For instance, it’s needed to make collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen gives structure and flexibility to the skin and is critical for the proper functioning of the bones, muscles, and blood vessels.

Additionally, vitamin C helps the body absorb non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plant foods.

What’s more, it’s a powerful antioxidant. As a result, it has been extensively researched for its potential cancer-fighting qualities.

Vitamin C works to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which have been associated with many chronic diseases, including cancer.

Evidence suggests that a diet high in vitamin-C-rich foods is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers.

A recent analysis of 21 studies found that the risk of lung cancer decreased by 7% for each daily 100-mg increase in vitamin C intake.

However, this study was limited because it could not determine whether the decreased risk of lung cancer was caused by vitamin C or other compounds found in fruits and vegetables.

While many observational studies have found a link between higher vitamin C intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers, results from controlled studies remain inconsistent.

Even though more research is needed to determine this vitamin’s role in cancer prevention, vitamin C certainly plays a crucial role in many vital functions in the body.

While green and red cabbage is excellent sources of this potent antioxidant, red cabbage contains about 30% more.

One cup (89 grams) of chopped red cabbage packs in 85% of the recommended vitamin C intake, the same amount found in a small orange (21).

Summary: Your body needs vitamin C for
many important functions, and it is a potent antioxidant. Red cabbage is
particularly high in this nutrient, providing about 85% of the RDI per cup (89
grams).

4. It Helps Improve Digestion

Cabbage is one of the most versatile foods out there. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to try out.

If you want to improve your digestive health, fiber-rich cabbage is the way.

This crunchy vegetable is full of gut-friendly insoluble fiber, a carbohydrate that can’t be broken down in the intestines. Insoluble fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements.

Moreover, it’s rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is because fiber is the primary fuel source for friendly species like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

These bacteria perform essential functions like protecting the immune system and producing critical nutrients like vitamins K2 and B12.

Eating more cabbage is an excellent way to keep your digestive system healthy and happy.

Summary: Cabbage contains insoluble
fiber, which keeps the digestive system healthy by providing fuel for friendly
bacteria and promoting regular bowel movements.

5. May Help Keep Your Heart Healthy

This is a beautiful recipe for cabbage. It has an authentic taste, and it is straightforward to make. But, of course, it would help if you had a little time and energy.

Red cabbage contains potent compounds called anthocyanins. They give this delicious vegetable its vibrant purple color.

Anthocyanins are plant pigments that belong to the flavonoid family.

Many studies have found a link between eating foods rich in this pigment and a reduced risk of heart disease.

In a study including 93,600 women, researchers found that those with a higher intake of anthocyanin-rich foods had a much lower risk of a heart attack.

Another analysis of 13 observational studies that included 344,488 people had similar findings. It found that increasing flavonoid intake by 10 mg daily was associated with a 5% lower risk of heart disease.

Increasing your intake of dietary anthocyanins has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and the risk of coronary artery disease.

Inflammation is known to play a significant role in the development of heart disease, and anthocyanins’ protective effect against it is likely due to their anti-inflammatory qualities.

Cabbage contains more than 36 different kinds of potent anthocyanins, making it an excellent choice for heart health.

Summary: Cabbage contains powerful
pigments called anthocyanins, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart
disease.

6. May Lower Blood Pressure

Cabbage is an excellent food for the heart. A large serving of cabbage, 3-4 times a week, can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 30%.

High blood pressure affects more than one billion people worldwide and is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke (32).

Doctors often advise patients with high blood pressure to reduce their salt intake. However, recent evidence suggests that increasing your dietary potassium is just as crucial for lowering blood pressure.

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that the body needs to function correctly. One of its main jobs is to help regulate blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium in the body.

Potassium helps excrete excess sodium through urine. It also relaxes blood vessel walls, which lowers blood pressure.

While sodium and potassium are essential for health, modern diets tend to be too high and too low in potassium.

Red cabbage is an excellent source of potassium, delivering 12% of the RDI in a 2-cup (178-gram) serving.

Eating more potassium-rich cabbage is a delicious way to lower high blood pressure and may help keep it within a healthy range.

Summary: Potassium helps keep blood
pressure within a healthy range. Increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods
like cabbage may help lower high blood pressure levels.

7. Could Help Lower Cholesterol Levels

Cabbage is a popular and inexpensive vegetable to grow. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is a great ingredient to add to soups and salads.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell in your body.

Some people think all cholesterol is wrong, but it’s essential for the body’s proper functioning.

Critical processes depend on cholesterol, such as proper digestion, synthesizing hormones, and vitamin D.

However, people with high cholesterol also tend to have an increased risk of heart disease, significantly when they have elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

Cabbage contains two substances that have decreased unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by binding with cholesterol in the gut and keeping it from being absorbed into the blood.

An extensive analysis of 67 studies showed that when people ate 2–10 grams of soluble fiber per day, they experienced a small yet significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels of roughly 2.2 mg per deciliter.

Cabbage is a good source of soluble fiber. Around 40% of the fiber found in cabbage is soluble.

Plant Sterols

Cabbage contains substances called phytosterols. They are plant compounds structurally similar to cholesterol, and they reduce LDL cholesterol by blocking cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract.

Increasing phytosterol intake by 1 gram daily has reduced LDL cholesterol concentrations by 5%.

Summary: Cabbage is a good source of
soluble fiber and plant sterols. These
substances have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol.

8. Cabbage Is an Excellent Source of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a collection of fat-soluble vitamins that play many vital roles in the body.

These vitamins are divided into two main groups.

  • Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found primarily in plant sources.
  • Vitamin K2 (menaquinone): Found in animal sources
    and some fermented foods. Bacteria also produce it in the large
    intestine.

Cabbage is a terrific source of vitamin K1, delivering 85% of the recommended daily amount in a single cup (89 grams).

Vitamin K1 is a crucial nutrient that plays many vital roles in the body.

One of its primary functions is acting as a cofactor for enzymes responsible for clotting the blood.

Without vitamin K, the blood would lose its ability to clot properly, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.

Summary: Vitamin K is critical for
blood clotting. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K1, with 85% of the
RDI in 1 cup (89 grams).

9. It’s Very Easy to Add to Your Diet

In addition to being super healthy, cabbage is delicious.

It can be eaten raw or cooked and added to various dishes like salads, soups, stews, and slaws.

This versatile veggie can even be fermented and made into sauerkraut.

In addition to being adaptable to many recipes, cabbage is highly affordable.

No matter how you prepare cabbage, adding this cruciferous vegetable to your plate is a tasty way to benefit your health.

Summary: Cabbage is a versatile veggie
that’s easy to incorporate into your diet. You can use it to make many
different dishes, including salads, stews, soups, slaws and sauerkraut.

The Bottom Line

Cabbage is exceptionally healthy food.

It has an excellent nutrient profile and is exceptionally high in vitamins C and K.

In addition, eating cabbage may even help lower the risk of certain diseases, improve digestion, and combat inflammation.

Plus, cabbage makes a tasty and inexpensive addition to several recipes.

With so many potential health benefits, it is easy to see why cabbage deserves some time in the spotlight and some room on your plate.

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