Cabbage — it’s good and very good for you

The star of coleslaw and sauerkraut, and sidekick to corned beef, cabbage is an impressive source of vitamins, nutrients and powerful, health-promoting plant compounds

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Part of the Cruciferae, or Brassica family of plants, cabbages (Brassica oleracea) are actually the same species as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Part of the Cruciferae, or Brassica family of plants, cabbages (Brassica oleracea) are actually the same species as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

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Eating cabbage onNew Year’sis a widespread tradition thought to bring good luck and financial fortune in the coming year.

And although we’re well into 2020, it’s not too late to enjoy this delicious, nutritious vegetable.

The folklore

Cabbage, which has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, has been thought to increase fertility and used medicinally to cure baldness and treat ulcers and digestive distress.

The star of coleslaw and sauerkraut, and sidekick to corned beef, cabbage is also an impressive source of vitamins, nutrients and powerful, health-promoting plant compounds

The facts

Part of the Cruciferae, or Brassica family of plants, cabbages (Brassica oleracea) are actually the same species as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. While there are hundreds of cabbage varieties, they fall into three main types: green, red and savoy.

Green cabbage is most common, but red cabbage has the added nutritional benefits of health protective anthocyanins, which give this cabbage its red hue. Savoy cabbage has crinkly green or red, delicately textured leaves that are more loosely packed.

A a one-cup serving of raw cabbage has 85% DV (DV=Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day) of bone protective vitamin K and 54% DV of vitamin C, which helps ward off cell-damaging free radicals which can lead to disease.

The findings

Cabbage contains an impressive number of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids and polyphenols that help keep the inflammatory system strong. One of them, kaempferol, has been shown to protect against many diseases, including cancer, liver injury, obesity and diabetes (Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 2019).

Cabbage is one of two vegetables (along with root vegetables) in the Healthy Nordic Food Index, which has been shown to have beneficial effects on markers, or indicators, of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and a study in theJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics(2019) suggests it may reduce mortality in patients with CVD.

The finer points

Choose fresh looking leaves free from wilt, blemish or browning. Refrigerate raw cabbage sealed in plastic and it will keep for weeks. Extremely versatile, cabbage may be thinly sliced for slaws and salads, fermented into sauerkraut, steamed, boiled, roasted, sauteed or stir fried, deliciously partnering with most any vegetables, whole grains, nuts or lean proteins. Serve with a tangy mustard vinaigrette or your favorite sauce or dressing.

Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition.

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