Benefits of red cabbage

What is red cabbage?

Red cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable of firmly packed dark red-purple leaves. It belongs to the brassica group of vegetables along with Brussels sprouts and kale, and has a peppery taste and crunch when eaten raw, and becomes sweeter and softer in texture when cooked.

Red cabbage is grown in the UK and is in season from September to December. As the plants grow, they form tight balls of leaves in the centre surrounded by much larger green-purple leaves. When the red cabbage is ready for harvesting, the whole plant is picked and the outer leaves discarded, leaving just the cabbage head – the part we eat.

Nutritional profile of red cabbage

Red cabbage contains just 21 calories per 100g, being 90% water. It has a little protein at 1g per 100g, negligible fat and around 4g per 100g of carbohydrates, from naturally occurring sugars. Red cabbage is also quite a good source of fibre at 3g per 100g.

Red cabbage has a good mix of vitamins and minerals, especially folate, which is essential during pregnancy and also helps the body to produce red blood cells. It also contains vitamin C, which helps protect our cells by acting as an antioxidant, and potassium, which we need for a healthy heart.

Does red cabbage contain anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are antioxidants that are found in purple-coloured fruits and vegetables, including red cabbage. There is a lot of ongoing research into these phytonutrients because of their many health benefits.

There are growing links between inflammation and conditions such as obesity, and that the use of dietary anthocyanins may be able to help improve obesity and obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

A 2019 study indicates growing evidence that anthocyanins play a positive role in cardiovascular health and that those who eat foods with anthocyanins have a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease-related death.

Read more about what to eat for a healthy heart.

How much red cabbage counts as one of your five a day?

Just 80g of red cabbage counts as one portion of your five-a-day, which is less than a tenth of a whole cabbage (which normally weighs about 1kg).

Discover more with our five-a-day infographic.

Can you be allergic to red cabbage?

You can be allergic to cabbage, and it often falls into the same group as those in the ‘pollen food syndrome’, which may include foods such as aubergine, beetroot, celery and peppers.

A mild reaction may include symptoms such as itching mouth or tongue, sneezing or a runny nose. If you experience these symptoms after eating cabbage, speak to your GP. If a more serious allergic reaction occurs, call for an ambulance immediately.

Read more from the NHS about allergic reactions.

How to buy the best red cabbage

Ideally buy red cabbage when it is in season in the UK, so in the autumn months. It should be heavy and firm, and there should be little damage to the outer leaves. It’s ok if there is a little tear or mark as normally the first few outer leaves are thrown away before eating, but don’t buy any red cabbage that has large cuts in it, is black or going mouldy or soggy.

Healthy red cabbage recipes

Discover our top-rated healthy red cabbage recipes in our collection.

Now read…

The health benefits of chestnuts
Is smoked salmon healthy?
The health benefits of cinnamon

This article was published on 31 October 2019.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Red Cabbage Nutrition

One cup (89 grams) of chopped, raw red cabbage has about: (11)

  • 28 calories
  • 7 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 grams protein
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 50.7 milligrams vitamin C (85 percent DV)
  • 34 micrograms vitamin K (42 percent DV)
  • 993 IU vitamin A (20 percent)
  • 0.2 milligram manganese (11 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (9 percent DV)
  • 216 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (4 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram riboflavin (4 percent DV)
  • 16 micrograms folate (4 percent DV)
  • 40 milligrams calcium (4 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
  • 14.2 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)

Red Cabbage vs. Green Cabbage

While both red and green cabbage are good for you, red cabbage packs a more powerful nutritional profile. For example, red cabbage contains about 85 percent of the daily vitamin C our bodies need, while the green variety provides 47 percent. In fact, red cabbage has more vitamin C than oranges, believe it or not.

Red and green cabbage are two different cabbage varieties, but they have a similar flavor. Red cabbage tends to be more peppery and is usually smaller and denser than green cabbage heads. The leaves of the red cabbage are dark purple or reddish, which comes from the pH levels of the soil in which it’s grown, as well as the pigment that comes from the nutritionally valuable anthocyanins in contains.

In acidic soils, the leaves usually grow more reddish, while in neutral soils, they grow more purple. This explains why the same plant is known by different colors in various regions. Red cabbage needs well-fertilized soil and sufficient humidity to grow at its best. It’s a seasonal plant, seeded in spring and harvested in late fall.

It’s also important to note that red cabbage is ranked fifth in the Clean 15 on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, noted as one of the fruits and vegetables with the lowest amount of pesticide residues. However, if you are concerned at all about pesticide use, go for organic cabbage. (12)

Here’s a little more on how red and green cabbage stack up based on a one-cup serving:

Vitamin A

Red cabbage contains 10 times more vitamin A than green cabbage. Vitamin A helps prevent early stage age-related macular degeneration from progressing due to lutein and zeaxanthin, which function mainly as eye-supporting antioxidants. It may also aid aid in keeping the skin and immune system healthy. Vitamin A can help maintain healthy teeth, skeletal tissue and mucous membranes. (13)

Vitamin K

Green cabbage contains almost twice as much vitamin K as red cabbage. Vitamin K regulates bone mineralization by increasing bone density and helps the blood to coagulate.

Vitamin C

Both contain a good amount of vitamin C, which provides antioxidants and collagen protein. The body needs vitamin C to help repair wounds and injuries as well as keeping bones, cartilage and teeth strong and healthy.

Iron

Red cabbage has double the iron of green cabbage. Iron delivers oxygen to your cells, which helps your muscles perform well during exercise and general day-to-day activities. Lack of iron in your diet could cause anemia, leading to fatigue.

Anthocyanins: Only in Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is the winner when it comes to antioxidants. Red cabbage contains anthocyanin pigment, which is not found in green cabbage. The purple color in red cabbage comes from anthocyanins, and these nutrients provide further evidence of the cancer-fighting flavonoids it contains. Anthocyanins are noted in research studies for protection against various types of memory loss, as well as other disease-preventing benefits like the ones I discussed above. (14, 15)

The Science and History Behind the Red Cabbage

As I mentioned above, the purple color of red cabbage is thanks to the anthocyanin pigments in contains. Depending on the acidity of the soil in which a plant containing anthocyanin is grown, this pigment can look red, purple or even blue.

While green cabbage still offers great aids to health, the color of red cabbage is what makes it the clear winner in overall antioxidant load. Plant geneticists at Cornell University believe that since “the amount of total anthocyanins in red cabbage was found to be a direct correlation to the total antioxidant power it provides, the potential health benefit of red cabbage to human health.” (16)

Red cabbage has a rich and well-documented history dating back to the height of Roman and Greek society, although some sources believe it’s been cultivated thousands of years even before those cultures wrote about it. The original version of the wild cultivar of red cabbage was grown originally in the Mediterranean region.

Many figures in history have contributed to the popularity of cabbage, including the Roman statesman, Cato, who is probably the person responsible for creating the cole slaw dish when he insisted on eating raw cabbage with vinegar. Pliny the Elder, a famous Roman citizen who served in the military, wrote philosophy and recorded common health practices of the ancient Romans, wrote about cabbage in Natural History, noting its medicinal properties both as a food and in poultice form. (17)

Although the first official record of cabbage didn’t appear until 1536 in Europe, it’s thought the Celts of the central and western parts of Europe may be even more responsible for the booming cabbage business dating back even before the Romans and Greeks. People in the southern parts of the Mediterranean probably developed cultivars of cabbage that could stand warmer temperatures than its original home.

Jacques Cartier likely brought cabbage to the Americas in the 1540s, where it was re-planted by colonists in the United States. However, it was 1669 before this plant would be written about in pre-United States records. Native Americans and United States citizens alike were known to plant and eat this valuable veggie by the 18th century.

The original shape of cabbage, referred to as “round-headed,” has given way through the years to a number of other cabbage shapes, including flat-headed, egg-shaped, conical and pointed. (18)

How to Use Red Cabbage

There are numerous ways to prepare red cabbage, such as red cabbage slaw, braised red cabbage, steamed red cabbage or simply eating it raw in salads. When cooking, red cabbage normally turns blue. However, if you want to retain the red color, you need to add apple cider vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.

Like most plants that we eat, once heated, the nutritional benefits begin to diminish. A study was conducted showing just how this works with red cabbage. The results of this comparison of the difference between steaming, microwaving, boiling and stir-frying cabbage found that every cooking method decreased the overall nutrition and anthocyanin capacity of red cabbage. Steaming, though, did help retain a good amount of other antioxidants and vitamin C.

According to these researchers, Asian cooking methods may be your best bet if you do choose to cook cabbage. While eating it raw will avoid any loss of nutritive value, by using less water and shorter cooking times (particularly using a steaming method, not microwaving or boiling the cabbage), can still provide you plenty of nutritional punch. (19)

Also, lightly rinsing but not scrubbing the cabbage totally clean allows you to retain important gut-enhancing bacteria that come from eating dirt.

Red Cabbage Recipes

You can integrate red cabbage into many different types of recipes. Try the following red cabbage recipes to reap the nutritional rewards:

  • Vegetarian Pozole Verde
  • Healthy Cole Slaw Recipe
  • Fish Taco Recipe (on Lettuce Wraps!)
  • Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Lamb Recipe

Final Thoughts

Red cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that has many proven benefits, including:

  1. Boosts the immune system
  2. Fights inflammation & arthritis
  3. Improves bone strength & reduces osteoporosis risk
  4. Combats chronic disease
  5. Strengthens gut health

While both red and green cabbage are good for you, red cabbage packs a more powerful nutritional profile and more overall antioxidants. For example, red cabbage contains about 85 percent of the daily vitamin C our bodies need, while the green version provides 47 percent.

Eating raw red cabbage is the best way to get the full impact of its nutrition; however, if you choose to cook it, I recommend steaming with as little water as possible for a short cooking time.

5 Reasons You Should Eat Cabbage

If you haven’t eaten cabbage in a while, we urge you to look again at this healthy, unsung hero of the vegetable world. Want beautiful skin, to lose weight, a great immune system? See five great reasons to eat (and grow) cabbage!

Before we had the little greenhouse that enables us to grow salad and cooking greens all winter, we grew between 50 and 100 green and red cabbages each year—and ate them all. I loved looking at them as they grew like giant flowers in the garden, then as they rested side by side in the root cellar. See how to grow cabbage.

Last spring was the first time in 40-plus years of gardening that I did not grow a single cabbage. I find myself wishing I had (especially red cabbage), despite having more vegetables than our now-two-person household knows what to do with.

5 Reasons to Enjoy Cabbage

I’ll plant a few cabbages this year, because:

  1. Cabbage offers huge health benefits that can not be ignored! Many health benefits are similar to broccoli (they’re in the same plant family). Cabbage is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. (Vitamin C to reduce toxins which are the main causes of arthritis, gout, and skin diseases.) Also, cabbage may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer including colorectal cancers.
  2. It’s cheap and widely available year-round. There are so many varieties of cabbage, too, including Green, Savoy, red, Napa, bok choy, and Brussels Sprouts (tiny cabbages!). It is possible to enjoy eating cabbage pretty much all year round. Although most any cabbage will work for any use, plant breeders have developed many varieties in many colors and textures. Some are sweet, mild, tender as lettuce; others rock hard and good for shredding or slicing crosswise into thick “steaks” for roasting.
  3. Cabbage lasts longer in the fridge than most vegetables. If cabbage is properly stored, it can last from 3 weeks to up to 2 months in your refrigerator. In optimum root cellar conditions, it can even last longer. Store in a hydrator drawer if possible. Do not remove the outer leaves nor wash until ready to use.
  4. It’s versatile. I’ve sliced it into soups and salads, shredded it into coleslaws, stir-fried it with onions and apples, fermented it into sauerkraut, stuffed whole cabbages or individual cabbage leaves, steamed it, boiled it, fried it, roasted it, and grilled it. I’ve even experimented with cabbage desserts, not always successfully! (See more about cooking below.)
  5. Cabbage is even great for weight loss and beautiful skin! I’m sure you’ve heard of the cabbage diet (not that I would recommend it). There are only 33 calories in a cup of cooked cabbage, and it is low in fat and high in fiber. Cabbage also helps keep skin looking health, toned, blemish-free and glowing; it’s rich in antioxidants (including vitamin C and beta-carotene).

There are many more benefits to cabbage. Definitely add this unsung hero to your grocery shopping list!

How to Buy Cabbage

In the grocery store, always look for cabbage heads that feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. The heads don’t need to be perfect; you can peel off and discard the outer leaves.

The most common cabbage is green, but red cabbage has become increasingly popular for color in salads and cooked dishes. There are also very pretty Savoy varieties with waves of blue-green leaves which are best raw in salads or in a slaw. Cooked Savoys do not have the strong sulfur odor of green cabbage.

How to Cook Cabbage

Sadly, many folks think cabbage as smelly, but blame the cook, not the cabbage. This odor is the result of overcooking. If you make the common mistake of overcooking cabbage, I urge you to try again! Do NOT overcook cabbage! The longer the cabbage is cooked, the more smelly it becomes.

If boiling cabbage, cook very briefly, just until tender. Do not cook cabbage in aluminum pans; use stainless steel pots and pans. Finally, it helps to add a few drops of vinegar while cooking or wipe the inside lid of the pan with vinegar.

  • Or, try steaming wedges of cabbage for 5 to 7 minutes. Top with butter and a pinch of salt and pepper or even with grated cheese.
  • Another idea is to sear cabbage by heating it in a very hot pan with a little bit of olive oil and butter (and a pinch of salt) until the cabbage wilts.
  • Or, try roasting cabbage. Get the roasting pan really hot in the oven, and then put wedges of cabbage (tossed in olive oil and a little salt), and roast until slightly caramelized.
  • Cabbage is wonderful added to sautes and stir fries. It tastes great alongside peppers, onions, etc.
  • Cabbage is also great in a coleslaw. Chop finely or shred and then toss with shredded carrots and green onions. Add any other vegetables that you would like. Toss with a yogurt/mayonnaise dill dressing or a vinaigrette.
  • Large cabbage leaves can replace a tortilla for light and summery wrap sandwiches.

Browse the Almanac’s cabbage recipes!

Cabbage History

Cabbage is, quite literally, the head of the Brassica family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, rutabaga, and kale). The English word “cabbage” comes from the Latin word for “head,” caput.

The cultivated cabbage originated somewhere in Europe more than 2000 years ago, and has become a common staple in cuisines around the world. Its ubiquity in our own markets and on American dinner tables is probably why “cabbage” is also versatile as a figure of speech, with dozens of slang meanings (many of them unprintable here).

The word cabbage is related to the French word caboche, which also means “blockhead” or “moron,” and seems to be the origin of the pejorative “cabbagehead” (“moron”).

  • Use it as a noun (many meanings): We’ve gotta clear all this cabbage off the kitchen table. I need a new computer, but I don’t have the cabbage.
  • An adjective: He’s such a cabbage-mouth. Your idea is totally cabbage. (Could mean either a terrible idea or a good one).
  • A verb: I forgot to lock it, and somebody cabbaged my car while I was in the supermarket. (Could mean either trashed or stolen.)

For me, cabbage belongs at the head of the class.

See how to plant cabbage—and find some good recipes, too!

9 Impressive Benefits of Red Cabbage

The health benefits of red cabbage include prevention of premature aging and cancer, skin and eye care, aiding weight loss, and boosting the immune system boost, among other positive benefits.

What is Red Cabbage?

Red cabbage is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that has become very popular throughout the world for a number of reasons. Also known as purple cabbage or red kraut, it is a member of the Brassicaceae family and can be found throughout Northern Europe, America, and parts of China.

Interestingly enough, it is often used as a pH indicator, since it changes color specifically dependent on the pH balance of its surroundings. The color of the cabbage will actually fluctuate depending on the pH balance of the soil it grows in! It also keeps much better than traditional cabbage, meaning that it doesn’t need to be consumed or pickled to last winter. It is most often used in salads, but it can also be cooked and served as a side dish to certain meat dishes. Furthermore, it can be used in sauerkraut, particularly in German cuisine.

You can cook red cabbage in a number of ways, but the most common way is to braise it. Photo Credit:

Red Cabbage Nutrition Facts

One of the main reasons why red cabbage is such a popular vegetable is the wealth of phytochemicals, antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These essential components include B-vitamins calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, dietary fiber. Its organic compounds are almost too many to list, but its antioxidants like anthocyanins and indoles are extremely valuable for human health.

Health Benefits of Red Cabbage

Health benefits of red cabbage include the following:

Anticancer Potential

One of the most important functions of red cabbage is its potential role in cancer prevention. Dr. Jagdish Singh, et al., published a report in the Scientia Horticulturae Journal, which states that the high levels of antioxidants including anthocyanins and indoles, in red cabbage, make it extremely important as a preventative measure. This is actually where the purple color comes from, as some of these phytochemicals normally show in this hue. The rich coloring is proof of just how powerful these vegetables are for your overall health. According to the National Cancer Institute, the indoles in cruciferous vegetables such as red cabbage have been connected to reducing breast cancer in women. More research is needed, but these initial findings are promising.

Weight Loss

Red cabbage is very low in calories, but high in dietary fiber (and, as mentioned, has a wealth of important vitamins and minerals). Basically, this means that it gives you more bang for your buck, in terms of weight loss, leaving you feeling full and taking care of your nutritional needs. This can be a great addition to your daily diet if you are trying to lose weight, maintain a diet regimen, or simply decrease your intake of calories.

There are a number of aspects in red cabbage that makes it ideal for keeping you looking young. Antioxidants, for one, do more than just protecting you from the impact of free radicals; they also help reduce the signs of aging that can occur due to free radicals. Antioxidants can help keep your skin fresh, tight, and flexible, reducing wrinkles and age spots. The high levels of vitamin A (discussed later) is very beneficial for skin health, regrowth of skin cells, protection from sun damage, and the elasticity of the skin.

The high levels of vitamin A are not only good for your skin, but also for your eyes. Vitamin A helps keep the eyesight healthy and prevents macular degeneration and cataract formation. It can also be converted into beta-carotene, which is very important for maintaining eye health as you age.

Contributes to Healing

Red cabbage contains a large amount of amino acid glutamine. This specific amino acid is connected with reducing the inflammation and pain associated with ulcers in the gastrointestinal system. Red cabbage juice is thought to be the best remedy for this condition and has been used as a home remedy for a very long time.

Boosts Immune System

Red cabbage contains a wealth of vitamins, including vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an important antioxidant and a massive element of our immune system. It stimulates the activity of white blood cells, which form the first line of defense for the immune system. Furthermore, vitamin C is important in the formation of collagen, which keeps our bodies and cells connected and solid.

Protects from Alzheimer’s Disease

A 2018 research study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants indicates that red cabbage showed evidence of antioxidant and anticholinesterase properties. This could help prevent or mitigate the negative effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies are needed to gauge the full potential of red cabbage, however, these initial results are promising.

Increases Bone Mineral Density

The high concentrations of certain essential minerals make red cabbage excellent veggies for healthy bone growth and development. Like other vegetables in the Brassicaceae family, this cabbage is rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, and other important minerals that contribute to bone growth and mineral density that protects against osteoporosis, arthritis, and various other types of inflammation.

Word of Caution: If you suffer from hypothyroidism, it is recommended that you use caution when consuming red cabbage.

Other than that, enjoy all the cabbage you want!

When it comes to good-for-you veggies, kale may be trendier, but don’t overlook its veggie cousin, cabbage. The leafy green shares a lot of the same health benefits as it’s low in calories, filled with fiber, and packed with phytonutrients and minerals that are key for short- and long-term health. It’s an easy way to switch it up from your usual kale-full recipes and salad orders without sacrificing any of the great nutritional qualities. Here’s how cabbage stacks up:

Nutrition Stats

Serving Size: 1 cup cabbage, chopped

  • 22 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 0mg cholesterol
  • 16mg sodium (0% DV)
  • 151 mg potassium (4% DV)
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • 2.2g fiber
  • 1g protein
  • 1% DV vitamin A
  • 54% DV vitamin C
  • 2% DV iron
  • 2% DV magnesium
  • 3% DV calcium
  • 5% DV vitamin B6

Health Benefits of Cabbage

Eating one specific food will never make you or break you, but cabbage is a good one to add to the grocery list. Here’s what this leafy green can do in terms of your health.

It supports healthy digestion.

At just over 2 grams per cup, the fiber content in cabbage adds up quickly. If you’re using it in a veggie-packed slaw, salad, soup, or stew, you’re likely getting more like 8 to 10 grams total. Eating lots of fiber in general can help improve digestion, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and promote a healthy weight.

Nutrition Low-Down

It helps protect against chronic disease.

Cabbage is packed with special flavonoids called anthocyanins, which give cabbage its red and purple color. These phytonutrients protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, thereby boosting immunity and helping reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

It may help reduce cancer risk.

Cabbage contains compounds called glucosinolates, which are associated with lowering cancer risk based on how much you eat. The process of digesting and metabolizing cabbage essentially unleashes a chemoprotective effect in the body, helping stop the enzymatic reactions linked to DNA damage — the type that can, over time, lead to tumor development.

cookedphotosGetty Images

Still got doubts about cabbage? It’s not just for coleslaw, mind you. Here’s what else you need to know about Brassica oleracea.

Is cabbage healthier than lettuce?

It’s tough to say one vegetable is “better” than another, since all of them are excellent for your health. Cabbage may have the upper hand in terms nutrient density though. The anthocyanins found in red cabbage can help boost circulation, protect your cardiovascular system, and offset damage to your body’s cells.

That said, eating a variety of produce is crucial for better well-being for the long-term. When it comes to cruciferous veggies — kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts — the more often we eat ’em, the better. So make it a priority to consume more in general and mix it up often.

Best Cabbage Recipes

Do I have to eat it raw?

Nope! It’s true that cooked cabbage contains less vitamin C that the raw variety, but it’s also nothing to worry about since you’re likely getting more than enough elsewhere in everyday meals and snacks. And while previous test-tube studies had linked cooked cruciferous veggies with a lower nutrient availability, newer findings support the idea that eating cabbage and other veggies in any form is good for you and helps to support digestion. The bottom line: Enjoy it cooked and mild or raw and crunchy.

What’s the difference between green, red, and purple cabbage?

Cabbage takes on different colors based on how much anthocyanin it contains. The higher the anthocyanin levels, the darker it looks. That doesn’t mean one is “better” for your health than others, as veggies in general contain different amounts of phytonutrients that don’t necessarily correspond to their color. Take cauliflower for example. It’s not part of the “rainbow,” but it’s chock-full of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. What we know about all vegetables (especially the cruciferous ones!) is that when consumed more often in a wide variety of ways, they can help you stay healthier for the long haul.

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

The health benefits of cabbage

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant-based foods like cabbage decreases the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and overall mortality. It can also help promote a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

1) Protection from radiation therapy

Share on PinterestThe humble cabbage may have a range of health benefits.

A compound found in cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables known as 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) has been shown to increase short-term survival rates in some animal studies on radiation.

In a study conducted at Georgetown University, rats were given a lethal dose of radiation. Some were left untreated, and others were treated with a daily injection of DIM for 2 weeks.

All the untreated rats died, but over 50 percent of those receiving DIM remained alive at the 30-day mark.

The same researchers ran the experiment on mice and found similar results.

They were able to determine that the DIM-treated mice had higher counts of red and white blood cells and blood platelets, which radiation therapy often diminishes.

It is thought that DIM has protective effects against cancer, but this study shows there is also hope for using it as a shield to protect healthy tissues during cancer treatment in the future.

2) Cancer prevention

Another potential cancer-fighting compound found in cabbage is sulforaphane. Research over the past 30 years has consistently shown that consuming cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cancer.

More recently, researchers have been able to pinpoint that the sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste — sulforaphane — is also what appears to give them their cancer-fighting power.

Researchers are currently testing sulforaphane’s ability to delay or impede cancer. Promising results at the molecular level have been seen with multiple types of cancers, including melanoma, esophageal, prostate, and pancreatic.

Researchers have discovered that sulforaphane has the power to inhibit the harmful enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make sulforaphane-containing foods a potentially powerful part of cancer treatment.

Another study, conducted at the University of Missouri, looked at another chemical found in cabbage, parsley, and celery, called apigenin; it was found to decrease tumor size when cells from an aggressive form of breast cancer were implanted in mice. Researchers claim that their findings show that apigenin has the potential to be used as a non-toxic treatment for cancer in the future.

Red cabbage contains the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, the same compound that gives other red and purple fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors.

In the lab, anthocyanins have been shown to slow cancer cell proliferation, kill already formed cancer cells, and stop the formation of new tumor growths. It is not known whether these effects will carry over into cancer prevention or treatment in humans.

3) Heart health

The same potent anthocyanins in red cabbage that help protect against cancer have been shown to suppress the inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease.

A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associated the intake of flavonoid-rich foods with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stated that even small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods might be beneficial. The high polyphenol content in cabbage might also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet buildup and reducing blood pressure.

4) Immunity and digestion

A popular way to consume cabbage is in a fermented form such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Chocked full of probiotics, fermented foods might be one of the best things you can consume for your immune and digestive systems. Healthy microbes generate an acidic environment to preserve and develop flavor; the enzymes produced in fermentation make vitamins and minerals easier to absorb.

The fiber and water content in cabbage also help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Eating adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.

Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

With berry season coming to an end, it’s time to turn our attention to some Fall-friendly vegetables that often get ignored. First up: red cabbage, an inexpensive veggie option packed with antioxidants and nutrients, is easy to cook with and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Cabbage, in general, helps lower cholesterol, and because it’s part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, cabbage may help lower the risk of many types of cancer. But did you know that red cabbage contains almost twice the vitamin C as green cabbage? Here are some other red-cabbage facts you maybe didn’t know.

  • The rich red color of red cabbage is due to its concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols. These flavonoids are said to act as an anti-inflammatory, and play a therapeutic roles in a number of human diseases. Keep in mind that both anthrocyanin and vitamin C are water-soluble, so try to just use a small amount of water with your cabbage, and the less cooking time, the better.
  • In addition to being packed with vitamin C and anthocyanins, red cabbage is packed with fiber, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese, and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
  • It’s the glucosinolates in cabbage that get the award for their “anticancer” benefits. Red cabbage is one of the best natural source of glucosinolates. In cabbage, glucosinolates get converted to isothiocyanate compounds that, according to research, are said to aid in the prevention of cancers like bladder, breast, colon, and prostate.
  • Red cabbage can be sautéed and enjoyed on its own; it can be used for salads like this cabbage salad with apples and caraway seeds; or, you can get fancy and use it in this provençal kale and cabbage gratin dish.

Source: Flickr User visulogik

Vegetable of the month: Red cabbage

Published: May, 2018


Image: © pjohnson1/Getty Images

Slivers of this vibrantly colored vegetable, also known as purple cabbage, are sometimes added to cabbage salads and coleslaw. But why not add red cabbage to any salad — or even make it the star ingredient?

Red cabbage contains substances called anthocyanins, which are responsible for the red-orange to blue-violet colors found in many fruits and vegetables. Population-based studies have linked a higher intake of anthocyanins and other so-called phytochemicals to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Nutritional info: All varieties of cabbage (red, green, or the paler Savoy cabbage) are high in vitamin C and low in calories. A half-cup contains about 45% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, but just 14 calories. Cabbage is also a good source of fiber and other vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and potassium.

Easy recipe: Finely chop or shred half a head of red cabbage. Toss with a little olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper, or your favorite salad dressing. For an extra burst of color, add some shredded carrots.

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Wonder benefits of eating purple cabbage

Purple cabbage also known as red cabbage is a nutrient-dense vegetable, which is widely consumed across the globe. It belongs to the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, cabbage, kale and other brassica family vegetables. Purple cabbage contains comparatively more nutrients and fewer calories that makes it an ideal vegetable for people aiming for weight loss.
This red vegetable is the powerhouse of dietary fibers, good quality carbohydrates, potassium, plenty of vitamins and other essential minerals. The dark pigment of the cabbage indicates a higher level of antioxidants, which are known to reduce oxidative stress. A higher level of anthocyanins, an antioxidant, specifically found in purple cabbage, lowers the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Apart from these, consuming purple cabbage also has innumerable health benefits, some of which are listed below.

Great for digestion
Purple cabbage is low in calories and high in dietary fiber, thus, it effectively aids in the digestion process. Eating cooked cabbage can prevent stomach ailments such as indigestion and constipation. Also, dietary fibers ensure that you stay satiated for a longer time by slowing down the digestion process. This helps in preventing hunger pangs and food cravings, helping in weight loss.

Maintains blood pressure
Regular consumption of red cabbage can benefit people having high blood pressure. Cabbage has higher levels of potassium, which is known to regulate and maintain blood pressure in the heart. Therefore, having this nutrient-dense vegetable can also prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Good for skin
This variant of cabbage is rich in antioxidants, and therefore, is great for your skin. Antioxidants help in keeping your skin youthful for a long time and prevents the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Also, purple cabbage is filled with the goodness of vitamin C and we all know how important this vitamin is for keeping the skin glowing and radiant for a long time.
Improves immunity
Purple cabbage has more vitamin C than orange and that is a reason, doctors also recommend having this vegetable daily to stay disease-free. Vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidants present in cabbage improve and strengthen your immune system. It helps in flushing out toxins from the body and therefore improves your metabolism. Vitamin A helps in improving your eyesight as well.
Strengthens bone and muscle
Eating raw cabbage can help in strengthening your bones, and preventing joint pain and inflammation. It contains vitamin K, potassium and other minerals that help in improving the functioning of bones and muscles.
How to include purple cabbage in your diet
Sauteed purple cabbage
You can sautee this red cabbage with some seasoning and some vinegar to eat it as a side dish with your grilled or baked foods. You can also add some olive oil and garlic for added taste.
No-cook salad
You can also consume this vegetable raw in a salad form, all you need is some basic ingredients and your no-cook salad will be ready in no time. Take shredded cabbage leaves, some of your favorite vegetables like broccoli, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, avocados or anything else you like and season it with pepper and salt, add some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Give it a good toss before serving.
Cook it with any other vegetable in a curry form
You can use the same technique as the green cabbage to cook the red one also. Although, this particular cabbage best goes with Chinese and Thai culinary, try adding purple cabbage in your manchurians and red curries to enhance their taste.

Superfood: Cabbage

Cabbage isn’t the most glamorous offering in the produce aisle, but this humble vegetable hides a wealth of important nutrients and disease-fighting superpowers. Studies show cabbage can help prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, and heal ulcers.

Cabbage Patch — Why It’s Super

Brassica vegetables (the plant family that includes cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli, to name a few) are healthy eating power players! Cabbage in particular provides unique health benefits and comes in many varieties. Savoy, spring greens, green, red, and white cabbages are the most common types found in grocery stores. Cabbage is often considered a “health food” because of the infamous cabbage soup diet, a strict (and unsustainable!) plan where participants eat unlimited amounts of cabbage soup to lose as much as 10 to 15 pounds in a single week. Although cabbage may be good for weight loss because of its high water content, it has many other (more important) advantages, too. Here’s a quick look at its beneficial qualities:

  • Fiber: Cabbage is a stomach’s best friend. Like its trendier cousins brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale, cabbage is an amazing source of fiber. Raw cabbage has also been shown to help cure stomach ulcersRapid healing of peptic ulcers in patients receiving fresh cabbage juice. Cheney G. California Medicine. 1949 January; 70(1): 10-15..
  • Antioxidants: Red cabbage is chock full of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant commonly found in blue, purple, and red plantsThe change of total anthocyanins in blueberries and their antioxidant effect after drying and freezing. Lohachoompol V, Srzednicki G, Craske J. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2004 December 1; 2004 (5): 248-252.. Studies show antioxidants can reduce inflammation, provide cancer protection, and boost brain function.
  • Lowers cholesterol: Look to this superfood for a natural and effective cholesterol reducer. Cabbage prevents bile from absorbing fat after a meal, which lowers the overall amount of cholesterol in the bodySuppression of hypercholesterolemia in hepatoma-bearing rats by cabbage extract and its component, S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfonide. Komatsu W, Miura Y, Yagasaki K. Department of Applied Biological Science, Tokyo Noko University, Fuchu, Japan. Lipids. 1998 May; 33 (5): 499-503..
  • Glucosinolates: Cabbage contains sulfur-based compounds called glucosinolates that have anti-carcinogenic propertiesBioactive organosulfur phytochemicals in Brassica oleracea vegetables – a review. Stoewsand GS. Department of Food Science and Technology, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Geneva 14456, USA. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1995 Jun; 33 (6): 537-43.. In the body, glucosinolates become compounds called isothiocyanates, which some studies suggest inhibit the growth of cancer cellsHydrolysis of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates after ingestion of raw or microwaved cabbage by human volunteers. Rouzaud G, Young SA, Duncan AJ. Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2004 Jan; 13 (1): 125-31..

Crunch Time — Your Action Plan

Red cabbage boasts more impressive health benefits than the green variety, so consider substituting more colorful bulbs for green cabbage in recipes. In general, vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables (think berries, dark greens, red peppers, carrots) are richer in antioxidants than paler produce. Take full advantage of this superfood by cooking it minimally or not at all. Heat breaks down the chemical compounds that give cabbage some of its nutritional superpowers, so get the most out of every bite by keeping the leaves crunchy. Subjecting cabbage to heat for long periods of time has been proven to break down glucosinolates. Try eating cabbage raw, steamed, or lightly sautéed instead to maximize health benefitsHydrolysis of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates after ingestion of raw or microwaved cabbage by human volunteers. Rouzaud G, Young SA, Duncan AJ. Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2004 Jan; 13 (1): 125-31.. Cabbage is an economical winner, too. It’s inexpensive, stores well, and is available throughout the year from late summer through winter. The best bulbs are tightly packed, heavy, and vividly colored. A whole cabbage will keep in the refrigerator for one to two weeks, and five or six days when chopped. Although it may be tempting, don’t get too gung ho about including raw cabbage with every meal. Despite its nutritional advantages, too much cabbage can be a bad thing! Cabbage is a “goitrogen” that can lead to goiters — a condition where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged, often due to a hormonal imbalance or iodine deficiencyPsychological effects of cabbage with reference to its potential as a dietary cancer-inhibitor and its use in ancient medicine. Albert-Puleo M. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1983 Dec; 9) 2-3):261-72.. A cabbage-heavy diet can contribute to the onset of goiters because cabbage inhibits the body’s ability to absorb iodine. (But don’t worry, this condition is pretty rare in developed countries, and it would take a lot of raw cabbage to start seeing negative effects.) Luckily, this drawback is largely neutralized when cabbage is cooked. Step away from the ‘slaw! Here are some fresh new cabbage recipes from around the web:

Breakfast: Red Berry, Cabbage and Almond Smoothie via The New York Times Breakfast: Braised Cabbage and Onion with Poached Egg via Culinate Lunch: Grilled Red and Green Cabbage Slaw via Epicurious Lunch: Asian Cabbage Salad via Sweet Peony Dinner: White Beans with Cabbage via The New York Times Dinner: Rice-Stuffed Cabbage via Martha Stewart What are your favorite ways to enjoy cabbage? Tell us in the comments below!