Cabbage is a quite popular vegetable, ranking up high alongside kales and spinach. They come in many varieties including green, white and red (purple) cabbages. Other types include the savoy and spring greens.
Of these, the green cabbage is arguably the most consumed in Kenya.
Nutrient Content of Cabbages
The bulk of the cabbage is water, making up slightly over 90% of its weight. However, don’t let that fool you as it’s also a good source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
It’s particularity rich in vitamin C and K, providing more than 20% of their Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) per 100g serving.1 It’s also a good source of folate and vitamin B6.
Some significant nutrients in cabbage are as follows (per 100g of cooked cabbage boiled, drained, without salt):
- Water – 92.57g
- Fibre (total dietary) – 1.9g
- Vitamin C (total ascorbic acid) – 37.5mg
- Vitamin K – 108.7 µg
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.112mg
- Folate – 30µg
- Calcium – 48mg
- Magnesium – 15mg
- Phosphorus – 33mg
- Potassium – 196 mg
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Cabbages are also good sources of phytochemicals, which are natural plant chemicals that are said to have certain health benefits. Their content however varies with the cabbage variety. In particular, due to their colour, red cabbages have significantly more phytochemicals compared to green cabbages.1
Potential Health Benefits of Cabbages
1. Good Source of Antioxidants
Cabbages are good sources of vitamin C and Polyphenols (a type of phytochemical), both of which are antioxidants. Red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, the red pigment polyphenols that are antioxidants too.3
The key benefit of antioxidants in our health is that they scavenge and inhibit free radicals and therefore are believed to play roles in prevention of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.
2. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system towards injury or illness and is characterized by swelling, redness, heat and discomfort in the affected areas.
Sometimes, however, when inflammation goes on for long periods and becomes chronic it can lead to the development of much complicated conditions such as heart disease and many types of cancer.5
Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties can therefore help in prevention of such complications in the long term.
In cabbage, the aforementioned polyphenols are not only good antioxidants, but also have anti-inflammatory properties in them. In particular are anthocyanins found in the red cabbage, which are widely known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity.3,4
3. Good Source of Vitamin K
Cabbages are excellent sources of vitamin K providing more than the daily value (80 µg) when cooked (108.7 µg/per 100g).2,7. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and as such helps to prevent excessive bleeding during injuries and increases wound healing.
Vitamin K is also said to be important for preventing cardiovascular diseases and for bone health.8
4. Good Source of Vitamin B6
Cabbages are excellent sources of Vitamin B6 which is also known as pyridoxine. Like other B vitamins, B6 helps your body convert the food you eat to energy. It’s also important for good brain health and making vital hormones that the body needs.9
Getting the Most Out of Your Cabbages
To get the most out of your cabbages, it’s recommended you don’t overcook them as this destroys most of their nutrients. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that minimally cooked and raw cabbage are the only ones that show anti-cancer benefits.3
To ensure you get the maximum nutrients, consider steaming your cabbages or sautéing them. Also consider trying other varieties of cabbage such as the red (purple) cabbage to keep your diet not only interesting but also nutritiously diverse.
1. Wikipedia – Cabbage
2. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference – Cabbage boiled, drained, without salt
3. WHFoods – Cabbage
4. Anthocyanins: Natural Colorants with Health-promoting Properties (Available here)
5. Dr. Weil’s – Anti-Inflammatory Diet
6. Dr.Axe – Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory
7.FDA – Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)
8. Mercola – 10 Important Facts About Vitamin K That You Need to Know
9. WHFoods – Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)