April 24, 2024

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable in the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, arugula, bok choy, and radishes, among others. Higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables have been associated with a reduced risk of some health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions, and cancer.

This article will discuss the nutrients in cabbage, the benefits of cabbage, how cabbage may be prepared, if the color of the cabbage matters, and how to help with cabbage smell.

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Nutrients in Cabbage 

Cabbage is low in calories and high in vitamins C and K. The nutrition information of cabbage depends on which of the many varieties of cabbage is being consumed.

The following are the nutrition outlines by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “raw cabbage” and “raw red cabbage” per 100 grams (g) (3.1 ounces). That equals about 1.1 cups of chopped raw cabbage or 1.25 cups shredded raw cabbage. It’s about one-ninth of a medium-sized head of cabbage or one-eighth of a medium-sized head of red cabbage.

Raw Cabbage (100 g)

  • Water: 92.2 g

  • Energy: 25 kilocalories (kcal)

  • Protein: 1.28 g

  • Total lipid (fat) 0.1 g

  • Carbohydrate: 5.8 g

  • Fiber, total dietary: 2.5 g

  • Sugars, total: 3.2 g

  • Sucrose: 0.08 g

  • Glucose: 1.67 g

  • Fructose: 1.45 g

  • Calcium: 40 milligrams (mg)

  • Iron: 0.47 mg

  • Magnesium: 12 mg

  • Phosphorus: 26 mg

  • Potassium: 170 mg

  • Sodium: 18 mg

  • Zinc: 0.18 mg

  • Copper: 0.019 mg

  • Manganese: 0.16 mg

  • Selenium: 0.3 micrograms (mcg)

  • Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 36.6 mg

  • Thiamine: 0.061 mg

  • Riboflavin: 0.04 mg

  • Niacin: 0.234 mg

  • Pantothenic acid: 0.212 mg

  • Vitamin B6: 0.124 mg

  • Folate, total: 43 mcg

  • Choline, total: 10.7 mg

  • Vitamin A: 98 international units (IU)

  • Lutein + zeaxanthin: 30 mcg

  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): 0.15 mg

  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 76 mcg

Raw Red Cabbage (100 g)

  • Water: 90.4 g

  • Energy: 31 kcal

  • Protein: 1.43 g

  • Total lipid (fat): 0.16 g

  • Carbohydrate: 7.37 g

  • Fiber, total dietary: 2.1 g

  • Sugars, total: 3.83 g

  • Sucrose: 0.6 g

  • Glucose: 1.74 g

  • Fructose: 1.48 g

  • Calcium: 45 mg

  • Iron: 0.8 mg

  • Magnesium: 16 mg

  • Phosphorus: 30 mg

  • Potassium: 243 mg

  • Sodium: 27 mg

  • Zinc: 0.22 mg

  • Copper: 0.017 mg

  • Manganese: 0.243 mg

  • Selenium: 0.6 mcg

  • Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 57 mg

  • Thiamine: 0.064 mg

  • Riboflavin: 0.069 mg

  • Niacin: 0.418 mg

  • Pantothenic acid: 0.147 mg

  • Vitamin B-6: 0.209 mg

  • Folate, total: 18 mcg

  • Choline, total: 17.1 mg

  • Vitamin A: 1,120 IU

  • Lutein + zeaxanthin: 329 mcg

  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): 0.11 mg

  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 38.2 mcg

Benefits: What Makes Cabbage Good for You?

The benefits of eating cabbage are numerous. In addition to being low calorie and low cost, cabbage contains vitamins, minerals, and other components that can help with your health, including:

1 . Low Cost

Cabbage is an inexpensive way to add nutrition to your diet. Look for it in produce section of your grocery store, near the lettuce.

2 . Low Calorie

At about 30 calories per 100 g, cabbage is appropriate for a reduced-calorie eating plan.

3 . Versatility

Cabbage comes in many varieties, and can be enjoyed in numerous ways, including raw in salads, cooked in foods such as cabbage rolls, and fermented as foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.

4 . Amino Acids

Cabbage is abundant in amino acids (the building blocks of protein), which have antioxidant activity and can help reduce oxidative stress. This means they can help protect against some types of cell damage.

Amino acids are precursors to neutrotransmitters (chemicals that pass along vital messages between nerve cells) and various metabolites (products produced during metabolism).

5 . Polyphenols

Cabbage is rich in polyphenols, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids.

Polyphenols have properties that may be:

  • Anti-allergy
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimutagenic (helps prevent changes in DNA)
  • Anticancer
  • Enzyme-regulating
  • Promoting cardiovascular health
  • Promoting fat breakdown

A 2021 study found that varieties of cabbage with the highest polyphenol content may have effects that prevent or reduce obesity. The varieties of cabbage with the lowest polyphenol content showed little of these effects.

6 . Phytosterols

One hundred grams of cabbage contains about 27.4 mg of phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant sterols similar to cholesterols. They have antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering effects and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Plant sterols may help reduce or ameliorate:

7 . Vitamin B6

Cabbage is a source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 aids in the breakdown of nutrients. It helps maintain normal levels of the amino acid homocysteine (high levels of homocysteine may cause heart problems). It also helps brain function develop and helps immune cells function.

Vitamin B6 deficiency on its own (without deficiency in other B-complex vitamins) is uncommon, but can cause symptoms such as swollen tongue, depression, confusion, and weakened immune function.

8 . Folate

Cabbage provides folate, which is involved in protein metabolism, helps form nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), and helps break down homocysteine. You need folate to produce healthy red blood cells, with a deficiency resulting in anemia. Pregnant people need sufficient intake for the development of the spinal cord and brain in the fetus.

Adequate dietary intake of folate may help reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.

9 . Potassium

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which emphasizes getting potassium from fruits and vegetables (such as cabbage), has been shown to lower blood pressure.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a low-sodium diet that includes foods that provide potassium may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Some studies suggest higher intakes of dietary potassium may improve bone health.

Potassium is needed for insulin secretion from pancreatic cells. Without adequate potassium, people may be more prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. More research is needed in this area before these links can be confirmed.

10 . Vitamin C

Cabbage contains vitamin C, which helps the immune system work properly, and acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. It is required to make the protein collagen, which is needed to help with wound healing.

Several clinical studies have found that low vitamin C levels may affect cardiovascular health.

11 . Fiber

Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber may help with:

  • Digestion
  • Constipation
  • Weight management (by making you feel full faster)
  • Diverticulosis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Dietary fiber may also help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

12 . Vitamin K

Cabbage is a source of vitamin K. Vitamin K plays an important role in the formation of blood clots, and also helps with the maintenance of bone, preventing the hardening of arteries, controlling inflammation, and protecting the nervous system.

13 . Glucosinolates

Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage contain glucosinolates (sulfur-containing chemicals). These form active compounds such as indoles and isothiocyanates when broken down, as can occur in cooking and eating.

Animal studies and experiments with laboratory-grown cells have found that indoles and isothiocyanates may inhibit the development of certain cancers, though studies in humans have shown mixed results.

Cabbage Is Not Medical Care

Eating cabbage is not a substitute for getting medical care when needed. Always talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms or concerns.

Cabbage Preparation: Which Method Is Best?

Cabbage can be eaten in a number of ways including raw, cooked, juiced, or fermented.

Raw

Fresh cabbage that has been thoroughly cleaned can be eaten raw. It is often sliced, chopped, or grated and added to salads. Raw cabbage can last a few days if stored in the refrigerator.

Cooked

 Cabbage can be stir-fried, added to soups, used in casseroles, and used in many other dishes.

Cooking methods such as boiling, microwaving, and pressure cooking can cause a significant loss of glucosinolates. If cooking cabbage, steaming helps retain the most glucosinolates.

Juiced 

Cabbage juice can be a convenient way to consume cabbage, but cabbage loses fiber content with juicing. While this removes the health benefits of the fiber, it may make cabbage more tolerable to those with difficulty handling fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content.

Fermented

Cabbage can be fermented to make products like sauerkraut and kimchi. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are potential sources for probiotics (beneficial microbes).

Cabbage Leaves and Breastfeeding

Although clinical research on this subject is limited, many people who are lactating find that applying clean, refrigerated cabbage leaves to their breasts helps relieve pain and swelling from engorgement.

For continued breastfeeding or chestfeeding, the cabbage should only be applied until the pain and swelling begin to subside, as continued use may cause too big a decrease in milk supply. Cabbage may be applied regularly to relieve discomfort or swelling during weaning.

Though commonly warned against by well-meaning people, those who are lactating can enjoy the taste and nutritional value of cabbage without worrying about making the baby gassy. Although cabbage may cause gas in the lactating person’s bowel, neither gas nor fiber pass into breast milk.

Does Cabbage Color Matter?

Red cabbage gets its color from substances called anthocyanins. Studies suggest eating more foods that provide anthocyanins may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Anthocyanins may also have effects that are:

  • Antidiabetic
  • Anticancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-obesity

Cabbage Smell: What Helps?

The longer cabbage cooks, the more odor is released. To lessen unpleasant cabbage smell, reduce your cooking time to the minimum time possible to get your desired result. Cooking it in fat, such as oil or butter, or adding lemon juice or vinegar may also reduce the odor.

Summary

Cabbage is a low-cost, low-calorie, nutritious cruciferous vegetable. It contains substances that promote health benefits, including amino acids, polyphenols, phytosterols, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and glucosinolates.

Eating cabbage has been linked to health benefits including antioxidant effects, immune system support, and lowering the risk of some health conditions including cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

Cabbage can be eaten in ways such as raw, cooked, juiced, or fermented. Red cabbage contains anthocyanins, which may have additional health benefits.

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