Probably, the best way to start a clean eating habit is to eat vegetables. In fact, increasing vegetable intake particularly for children is not just a smart idea but healthy, too. And, perhaps, one of the vegetables you should be eating is cabbage. Hence, we are going to quickly explore cabbage health benefits you can enjoy with daily consumption.
Very often, many people mistakenly associate cabbage as the same category as lettuce. However, cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetables just as broccoli. Regardless of how you consider and categorize cabbage, eating it regularly even on a daily basis is good for your body.
Cabbage Health Benefits
Just like any whole foods preferably organically grown, cabbage is beneficial for the microbiome. This is the community of beneficial bacteria that thrive in the gut.
With regular consumption of cabbage, you will be able to enjoy the many of its health benefits. Although it is almost impossible to list everything good that cabbage can offer, we will mention a few of them.
Hopefully, this will be able to encourage most people to start increasing their cabbage intake. It is a good thing, in fact. Cabbage is one of the most common and widely available vegetables globally. And, if you do your vegetable shopping inside a supermarket, you can rest assure that cabbage is one of the readily available vegetables.
But, first, here is what in each cup of cabbage you eat based on Self.com’s data.
Having a quick look at the nutrition facts, cabbage is packed with beneficial nutrients. The cabbage health benefits you get to enjoy come from this wide variety of nutrients in just a cup of cabbage.
For instance, although in small amounts, cabbage micronutrients like iron, riboflavin and vitamin A. It is also low in calorie. Moreover, cabbage is rich in folate and vitamin B6 that play an important role in many processes such as promote proper nervous system function and energy metabolism.
1. Controls Inflammation
Inflammation is good and a natural process in the body to fight infection. However, when inflammation becomes chronic or severe, it is bad and could result in various serious health conditions.
One of cabbage health benefits is controlling the level of inflammation in the body. The good thing about it is the process is natural. Cabbage is good at controlling inflammation due to its antioxidant contents.
In one study1, researchers found that one of cabbage health benefits is reduce the inflammation inflammation. Other studies2 also confirmed the benefits of cruciferous vegetables as anti-inflammatory.
2. Vitamin C Contents
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Although we’ve been told that citrus fruits like oranges are good sources of Vitamin C, well, it is available in vegetables, too. For instance, cabbage contains a good level of Vitamin C.
Hence, by eating it regularly, you will be enjoying this particular cabbage health benefit. Furthermore, you might have known vitamin C as ascorbic acid. Yes, it is the same ascorbic acid or vitamin C you can get when you eat cabbage.
Besides being a potent antioxidant, vitamin C also helps proper absorption of iron in the body. And, since it is an antioxidant, it protects the body against free radicals that are linked to chronic illnesses including cancers3 4 5 6.
3. Improves Digestive Function
As mentioned earlier, one of cabbage health benefits is nurturing the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Well, our body’s digestive function takes place in the gut. The dietary fibers in cabbage are what makes it improves the digestive function.
The dietary insoluble fiber in cabbage acts as a binder for stool making it pass more easily. On the other hand, cabbage also contains a different type of dietary fiber, the soluble fiber.
The soluble fiber is responsible in the nurturing of beneficial bacteria living in the gut. And, this is one of cabbage health benefits due to its probiotic property as it becomes the fuel or food of the friendly bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria8.
Even more interesting and important is that these bacteria play a role in producing vitamin K2 and B12. Both are essential in boosting the body’s immune system.
4. Cabbage is Good For The Heart
Cabbage comes in many colors and one of the most common is the green one. However, when it comes to heart health benefit, the red cabbage is always a winner as it contains anthocyanins.
These are powerful compounds that are also responsible for its vibrant color. In many other cabbage health benefits, this is something interesting. Who would have thought that a compound responsible for coloring is good for the heart?
In fact, one study9, researchers found that anthocyanins is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Anthocyanins seem to have a clear effect on endothelial function and proinflammatory markers, even if most of the effects are reported using in vitro assays.
In another study10, it has been found that women who have higher intake of foods rich in anthocyanins have lower risk of a heart attack.
In another larger study11, which is an analysis study of 13 observational studies involving over 300,000 people support the previous findings.
Moreover, a diet with higher anthocyanins has been found helpful in lowering blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Hence, this is one of the amazing cabbage health benefits especially when you eat it regularly. Another great thing about it, studies prove it12 13.
And, here is another good reason to choose red cabbage as it contains 36 anthocyanins.
5. Beneficial For Lowering Blood Pressure
We mention that one of the cabbage health benefits is lowering blood pressure. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension. An increase in blood pressure is not good. Of course, we may experience it sometimes but having it all the time can be a bad thing.
In fact, there are medications for high blood pressure but most of them come with side effects. Hence, if you want to control and maintain an ideal blood pressure, work on your diet and lifestyle. And, fortunately, when it comes to diet, you can always include cabbage as part of your typical healthy diet.
One great thing about cabbage health benefits is that it causes something like a domino effect. One good thing or health benefit can lead to another. Get yourself out among the one billion people around the world with high blood pressure.
The primary nutrient in cabbage responsible for lowering blood pressure is the potassium. It is the opposite of sodium or salt. However, it does not mean that salt is bad. It has its sweet spots and along with potassium, it keeps blood pressure at an ideal level.
So, keep trying to maintain a balance between salt and sodium. Perhaps, the best way to do it is by increasing your intake of vegetables like cabbage while minimizing and even avoiding fast foods.
6. Keep Bad Cholesterol Low
In case you are not aware yet, cholesterol comes in two forms; bad and good cholesterol. Both exist to balance each other and bad cholesterol increases due to unhealthy dietary habits.
But don’t think cholesterol is a bad thing. This is the reason bad and good cholesterol exist as it has its purpose and the body use them in different ways to maintain proper function. Among them include testosterone production, which is a major cause of sex drive loss in men.
The good news, another valuable health benefit of eating cabbage keeps the balance of cholesterol level. Mostly, it is the bad cholesterol that often increases. The dietary fiber contents in cabbage help keep bad cholesterol in balance with the good cholesterol.
Cabbage contents phytosterols. This a compound in plants with similar structure as cholesterol. Phytosterols block the absorption of bad cholesterol into the digestive tract. Hence, reducing the unhealthy consequences of bad cholesterol.
How To Cook or Prepare Cabbage?
It is absolutely clear that including cabbage in your diet makes you healthy. In order to fully reap the many cabbage health benefits, you have to prepare it in certain ways.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a high-class chef to do prepare a highly delicious and healthy cabbage dishes. In fact, you can eat cabbage raw. But, probably, the most valuable preparation for cabbage involve fermentation, which is sauerkraut.
Fermenting green vegetables increases the bioavailability of vitamin K, which is good for the heart. Plus, fermenting it makes it even more friendly to the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Of course, you can do salads and slews with cabbage. Stir-frying cabbage along with other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli is another delicious dish. Cabbage is also good for making stews and soups.
In fact, there is one fad diet in the past involving only consumption of cabbage soup. However, this won’t be much beneficial because you don’t get the benefit of a wide variety of nutrients. So, ignore the cabbage soup diet and focus on eating it along with a wide variety of other whole foods including fruits.
Topical Applications of Cabbage
Cabbage health benefits extend on topical applications. Most people are only aware that cabbage should be taken to enjoy its health benefits. However, topical or external applications still offers many cabbage health benefits such as the following;
- Accelerates healing of injuries and bruises
- Applying cabbage on the neck is helpful on people with thyroid problems
- Good for subsiding headaches by putting a cabbage leaf on the temples
- Breastfeeding mothers can enjoy the benefit of cabbage due to nipple sores by putting a cabbage leaf on the breasts
Most probably, there are many other cabbage health benefits not mention here. But, hopefully, this shortlist will be able to encourage many people to include cabbage in their list of vegetable staples in their diet.
An Important Note In Cabbage Preparation
To fully enjoy and reap cabbage health benefits in a long-term, make sure to wash them before consumption. Today, while it is possible to opt for authentic organic produce, it is just difficult to obtain in certain areas.
Today’s norm in growing vegetables involves the use of pesticides. Eating the cabbage without properly washing it can negate the health benefits it offers. So, in order to fully enjoy the cabbage health benefits and make you healthy, wash them properly.
Normally, water is used for washing but water alone is not enough when pesticides are present. Hence, use baking soda or vinegar. If you gave apple cider vinegar use it. Otherwise, any white vinegar will do.
Proper Steps in Washing Your Cabbage
Everyone has its own way of washing cabbage and other vegetables. But here is something you can do to make your effort worth it as this reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals.
- In a basin, or sink, put a tablespoon of baking soda on a liter of water, or until it is enough to submerge the vegetables.
- With cabbage, slice the cabbage in half exposing the inner layers.
- Soak the cabbage on the water with baking soda or vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes
- Then, rinse thoroughly under running water
- Start preparation to whatever dish you want
That’s it! Start enjoying cabbage health benefits in a long-term. Of course, don’t just rely alone with it. Instead, make it a part of healthy lifestyle practices.