Cabbage is a leafy vegetable of the Brassica family which also includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. It is a low calorie vegetable and a popular choice in salad recipes.
The inexpensiveness and health benefits of cabbage earned it its nickname “drug of the poor” during the Middle Ages. It can vary in colour from green to red and purple and the leaves can be smooth or crinkled.
While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, red cabbage has added nutritional benefits because of its concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols which bring along with them unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here are some health benefits of cabbage:
1. Improves digestion
The fiber and water content in cabbage can help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Eating cabbage in fermented form (sauerkraut) also gives you a boost of probiotics, one of the best things for a healthy digestive system and gut.
2. Weight Loss
With a mere 33 calories per cup, cabbage is high in fiber and contains zero fat. It is frequently recommended to people who want to lose weight since it is packed with so many nutrients and its high fiber content makes it quite filling.
3. Lowers cholesterol
Cabbage can also be used to help lower your cholesterol. Its fiber and nutrients bind with bile acids in the intestine and pass out in the stool, rather than being absorbed into the blood. Eating it steamed gives it more cholesterol-lowering power.
4. Immune booster
It is an excellent source of vitamin C, crucial for maintaining a strong immune system.
5. Cancer fighter
It has been known for years that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower cancer risk. The sulfur-containing compound, sulforaphane, which gives these vegetables their taste is also what specifically gives them their cancer-fighting power. Sulforaphane has been shown to inhibit the progression of cancer cells. Anthocyanins, the powerful antioxidant that gives red cabbage its vibrant colour has been shown to slow the formation and even kill already-formed cancer cells.
6. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation causes unnecessary pain and discomfort and can also lead to a host of other diseases and ailments. Glutamine, an amino acid found in cabbage is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, helping to reduce joint pain. It eases allergies.
7. Improves brain health
Cabbage, particularly the purple variety is a powerful brain food. It contains vitamin K and the antioxidant anthocyanin which boosts mental function and concentration. Vitamin K, an often forgotten vitamin can also improve your defense against conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia.
8. Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke
Researchers have identified nearly twenty different flavonoids and fifteen different phenols in cabbage, all which demonstrate antioxidant activity. These antioxidant play a role in reducing your risk of several cardiovascular diseases. Cabbage also contains beneficial minerals like calcium and potassium which help regulate blood pressure.