by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Cabbage, which belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, is a nutrient-rich vegetable that has been associated with various health benefits. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help boost your overall health.
Even though some people don’t really like to eat cabbage because it has a strong taste and smell, it’s actually very healthy for you. In some cultures, people believe that eating cabbage will bring them good luck and wealth (wouldn’t that be awesome if it were true!).
In this article, we will dive deeper into some of the health benefits associated with cabbage and why you shouldn’t avoid this healthy vegetable.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before changing your nutrition program.
The Nutritional Value of Cabbage
Cabbage is very low in calories but has an interesting nutrient profile. One cup or 89g of raw green cabbage contains the following:
- Calories: 22
- Protein: 1g
- Fiber: 2g
- Vitamin C: 36% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 56% of the DV
- Folate: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the DV
- Manganese: 6% of the DV
- Potassium: 3% of the DV
- Calcium: 3% of the DV
- Magnesium: 3% of the DV
Cabbage also contains small amounts of other micronutrients, such as vitamin A, riboflavin, and iron.
5 Health Benefits of Eating More Cabbage
Below are a handful of reasons why you should start including cabbage in your daily nutrition plan.
1. Cabbage may help lower inflammation
Cabbage’s beneficial effects on health are partly attributed to anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that occurs naturally. Anthocyanins are responsible for adding color to fruits like blueberries and vegetables, and they may also have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the body.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage contain various antioxidants that have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation. According to a 2014 study, consuming more cruciferous veggies could reduce specific blood markers of inflammation. One older study involving over 1,000 females showed that those who consumed the highest amounts of cruciferous veggies had lower levels of inflammation as compared to those who had the lowest amounts.
2. Protection from radiation therapy
Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM), which has been shown in animal studies to improve short-term survival rates following radiation exposure.
In a study at Georgetown University, rats were exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and then treated with either DIM or no treatment. All the untreated rats died, while over 50% of the rats treated with DIM remained alive after 30 days. A similar experiment on mice produced similar results, with DIM-treated mice showing higher counts of red and white blood cells and blood platelets that are often depleted by radiation therapy.
3. Immunity and digestion
Fermented cabbage dishes like sauerkraut and kimchi are a popular way to enjoy this healthy vegetable. These foods are packed with probiotics, which can be great for both your immune system and digestive health. During the fermentation process, healthy microbes create an acidic environment that preserves the food while also producing enzymes that make vitamins and minerals easier to absorb.
In addition to its probiotic benefits, cabbage is also a good source of fiber and water. These nutrients can help keep your digestive system working properly, preventing constipation, and promoting healthy bowel movements. Eating enough fiber is also essential for eliminating toxins from your body through your stool.
Recent research suggests that fiber may even have a role in regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. This could help lower your risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity that are linked to chronic inflammation.
4. Keeps your heart healthy
Red cabbage gets its bright purple color from a group of compounds called anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that belong to the flavonoid family. Studies have suggested that consuming foods rich in anthocyanins is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
In a study of 93,600 women, those with a higher intake of anthocyanin-rich foods had a lower risk of a heart attack. Another analysis of 15 observational studies showed that increased intake of flavonoids was linked to a lower risk of dying from heart disease.
5. Power packed with vitamin C
Cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, a crucial water-soluble vitamin with several vital bodily functions. It is necessary for the production of collagen, helps the body absorb non-heme iron, and acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which have been linked to chronic diseases, including cancer. Eating a diet rich in vitamin C has been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, such as lung cancer. A 2014 analysis of 21 studies found that each 100mg increase in daily vitamin C intake decreased the risk of lung cancer by 7%.