Cabbage is often associated with corned beef or as the main ingredient in sauerkraut. Originally from China, it was brought back to Europe by Celtic ancestors and soon became a staple in northern European diets. Cabbages are hardy plants and come in a variety of colors from the palest green to deep purple.
Cabbage is an extremely healthy vegetable, and has been described as one of the cheapest superfoods because of its low price and high nutrient density.
Many cabbages have smooth leaves and are often confused with lettuce. The Savoy, however, is known for its crinkled leaves. Other popular varieties which have been developed to be rot tolerant and easy to cultivate are the King Cole, Cheers and Early Jersey Wakefield. Red cabbage is becoming increasingly popular as a salad ingredient because it adds color and texture.
Cabbages are grown in elevated rows and have a growth period of 65-83 days, depending on the variety. They need to be transplanted early enough to avoid growing into the heat of the summer. About half way into the growth cycle, a nitrogen rich fertilizer is recommended. Irrigation to keep the soil moist is also an important element in growing healthy cabbage plants. Cabbage is susceptible to diseases such as black rot and yellow wilt, but most hybrids today be disease resistant.
Ways to Prepare Cabbage
Cabbage is often boiled, but when it is it loses its nutrients quickly. Many people are discovering the benefits of serving it raw. Cole slaw has long been a favorite BBQ side dish, though the sauce can be fattening. A more modern method to fix cabbage is to steam it, locking in more of its nutrients. It does have a distinctive odor when cooked, however.
Cabbage should always be washed and dried before chopping, and the outer leaves discarded. To rid it of insects, soak it for 20 minutes in diluted vinegar water. A head can be stored up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Once you cut it, it quickly begins to lose its Vitamin C and should be eaten in a few days.
Cabbage Nutritional Content
Cabbages have received a lot of press about being a cancer preventative, especially breast cancer. The American Cancer Society does recommend cabbage consumption in their literature, but mostly because it is a good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
For a serving 100 g of cabbage
Vitamin C 37.5 mg
Vitamin B6 0.112 mg
Calcium 48 mg
Fiber 1.9 g
Protein 1.27 g
Potassium 196 mg
Cabbage Health Benefits
Cabbage is a good source of fiber and very low in calories. It contains a substantial amount of amino acid glutamine which our bodies need to produce HGH (human growth hormones). Stanford University’s School of of Medicine conducted extensive research and found that the glutamine in fresh cabbage juice relieves peptic ulcer symptoms.
All cabbage varieties have sulfuropane in their leaves which scientists have discovered may help as a detoxification agent and promote liver and colon health. They all contain phytonnurtients which can help our bodies fight off the attacks of free radicals. Red cabbage has more phytonnutrients, as well as up to 8 times the Vitamin C as green cabbage. Varieties also contain a key antioxidant called anthocyanin, an ingredient needed for brain function.
Cabbage Cautions and Concerns
Cabbage has many health benefits, but should not be considered a cure all for cancer or be a way to prevent cancers from growing. Nor should it be considered a prevention for Alzheimer’s as some websites claim. Cabbage is said to aid digestion and constipation, yet some people are sensitive to it and it produces discomfort in their bowels.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of cabbage?
Check out these helpful websites:
Cabbage at the World’s Healthiest Foods
Superfood Bargains at Nutritionfacts.org
Testing Your Diet with Pee and Purple Cabbage at Nutritionfacts.org
Cabbage Growing Tips from the University of Illinois Extension
Cabbage Nutrition from the CDC