Cabbage health benefits are numerous, as it is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It comes in different colors, shapes, and sizes, and can be eaten raw or cooked in various dishes. Cabbage is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has many health benefits, such as improving digestion, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and boosting immunity. However, cabbage also has some possible side effects that you should be aware of before consuming it in large amounts. Here are some of the pros and cons of eating cabbage.
Nutritional facts of Cabbage:
Cabbage is a highly nutritious and low-calorie vegetable, making it an excellent addition to a healthy diet. The nutritional content of cabbage can vary slightly depending on the variety and cooking method, but here are the approximate nutritional facts for 1 cup (about 89 grams) of raw chopped cabbage:
- Calories: 22 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Fiber: 2.2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Vitamin C: 36.6 mg (61% of the daily recommended intake)
- Vitamin K: 53.2 mcg (66% of the daily recommended intake)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (6% of the daily recommended intake)
- Folate (Vitamin B9): 24.8 mcg (6% of the daily recommended intake)
- Potassium: 119 mg (3% of the daily recommended intake)
- Manganese: 0.2 mg (9% of the daily recommended intake
Cabbage is also a good source of other essential nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin A, albeit in smaller amounts. One of the key health-promoting components in cabbage is its high content of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and phytonutrients like anthocyanins and sulforaphane. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Furthermore, cabbage is rich in fiber, which aids in digestion, promotes a healthy gut, and can help with weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness.
Cabbage health benefits:
Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that is packed with nutrients. It is a good source of vitamins C, K, and fiber, as well as other antioxidants. Cabbage has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It can also help with weight loss, improve digestion, and boost the immune system.
Cabbage protects against cancer:
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that has been shown to have anti-cancer properties in some studies. It contains phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which are converted into isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are compounds that can modulate various cellular processes, such as inflammation, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation, that are involved in cancer development and progression. Isothiocyanates can also affect the activity of enzymes that metabolize carcinogens and hormones, such as estrogen, that are associated with some types of cancer. Some of the isothiocyanates found in cabbage are sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, and phenethyl isothiocyanate.
Due to the presence of vitamins C and E, carotenoids and antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase, these vegetables are considerable source of antioxidants, and due to the presence of polyphenols and the sulfur-organic compounds exert also antimutagenic action.
Some of the cancers that cabbage may help protect against include colorectal, breast, prostate, lung, and bladder cancer. For example, a meta-analysis of 13 prospective cohort studies found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer. Another meta-analysis of 13 case-control studies found that a higher intake of cabbage was associated with a 18% lower risk of breast cancer.
These studies suggest that cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may have beneficial effects on preventing or slowing down the growth of some cancers. However, more research is needed to confirm the mechanisms and the optimal dose and frequency of consumption.
Cabbage promotes heart health:
Cabbage can lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels and preventing the accumulation of plaque. Glucosinolates are converted into isothiocyanates when cabbage is chewed or chopped. Isothiocyanates can modulate various cellular processes that are involved in vascular health, such as inflammation, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation. Anthocyanins are pigments that give red and purple cabbage their color. They have been shown to improve endothelial function and nitric oxide production, which are important for blood vessel dilation and blood flow.
Cabbage can lower cholesterol levels by blocking its absorption in the intestines. Phytosterols are plant sterols that have a similar structure to cholesterol. They can compete with cholesterol for the same receptors in the intestinal cells and prevent its uptake into the bloodstream. High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Cabbage can prevent or reduce oxidative damage to the heart and blood vessels by scavenging free radicals and enhancing antioxidant defense. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that are involved in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause damage to the cardiac cells and impair their function.
Cabbage protects against diabetes:
Emerging evidence from various studies suggests that cabbage may offer protective effects against diabetes. Cabbage is a low-calorie vegetable with a low glycemic index, making it an ideal addition to the diet of individuals at risk of or already diagnosed with diabetes. The presence of bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins and polyphenols, in cabbage has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood glucose levels. These compounds have demonstrated potential in enhancing glucose metabolism and insulin signaling pathways, thereby contributing to better blood sugar regulation.
Moreover, cabbage’s rich fiber content aids in slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of cabbage may play a role in reducing insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Cabbage is anti-inflammatory:
Inflammation is a natural response of the body to fight infection or injury, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to various diseases, such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Cabbage contains many anti-inflammatory compounds, such as glucosinolates, anthocyanins, polyphenols, and phytosterols.
Glucosinolates are converted into isothiocyanates when cabbage is chewed or chopped. Isothiocyanates can modulate various cellular processes that are involved in inflammation, such as cytokine production, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation. Anthocyanins are pigments that give red and purple cabbage their color. They have been shown to improve blood vessel function and nitric oxide production, which are important for reducing inflammation. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that are involved in inflammation.
Cabbage can also be used as a topical remedy for inflammatory problems, such as rheumatic pain, vein and lymphatic vessel inflammation, bruises, sprains, mastitis or gastrointestinal problems. Crushed cabbage leaves are one of the most widely used anti-inflammatory remedies. Cabbage leaves can help ease swelling and pain by cooling and soothing the affected area. They may also have antibacterial and antifungal effects that can prevent infection.
Cabbage boots immunity:
This cruciferous vegetable is packed with essential nutrients, including vitamin C, which is a key player in strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C enhances the production of white blood cells, boosting the body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
Moreover, cabbage contains antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavonoids that protect immune cells from damage caused by free radicals, thereby supporting their optimal function. Additionally, it is a good source of vitamin K, which aids in the production of proteins necessary for a healthy immune response. Furthermore, its fiber content promotes a healthy gut, where a significant portion of the immune system resides.
Cabbage protects against neurodegenerative diseases:
Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of disorders that affect the structure and function of the brain and nervous system, leading to progressive loss of cognitive, motor, and sensory abilities. Some of the most common neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The presence of bioactive compounds in cabbage, such as sulforaphane and anthocyanins, has been linked to neuroprotective effects. These compounds have demonstrated the ability to activate cellular defense mechanisms, reduce oxidative stress, and combat inflammation in the brain, factors often associated with neurodegenerative conditions.
Furthermore, cabbage’s rich antioxidant content helps neutralize free radicals, which can damage brain cells and contribute to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Some studies have also suggested that cabbage consumption may enhance cognitive function and memory.
Cabbage helps in obesity:
Its low calorie and high fiber content make it a weight loss-friendly food. The fiber in cabbage helps promote satiety, keeping individuals feeling full for longer periods and reducing overall calorie intake. This can aid in weight management by preventing overeating and controlling appetite. Moreover, cabbage is low in energy density, meaning it provides fewer calories per gram, making it an ideal choice for those seeking to reduce calorie consumption without compromising on volume. Additionally, cabbage’s wealth of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can support a balanced metabolism and may help counteract inflammation, which is linked to obesity.
Cabbage helps digestion and weight loss:
As a fiber-rich vegetable, cabbage aids in digestion by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. The high fiber content also provides bulk to the stool, facilitating smoother passage through the digestive tract. Additionally, cabbage contains compounds like glucosinolates and sulforaphane, which have been linked to improved gut health and reduced risk of gastrointestinal issues.
Furthermore, cabbage’s low-calorie nature and high-water content make it an excellent addition to weight loss diets. The fiber in cabbage promotes a feeling of fullness, curbing appetite and reducing overall calorie intake. Moreover, the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in cabbage may contribute to weight loss by supporting a balanced metabolism and reducing inflammation.
Possible Side Effects of Cabbage:
While cabbage is generally safe for consumption and offers numerous health benefits, some individuals may experience certain side effects:
- Digestive Disturbances: Raw cabbage can be difficult to digest for some people, leading to bloating, gas, or stomach discomfort. Cooking cabbage can help mitigate these effects.
- Thyroid Interference: Cabbage contains goitrogens, substances that can interfere with thyroid function. Individuals with thyroid issues should moderate their cabbage intake and ensure it is well-cooked.
- Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to cabbage, resulting in symptoms like itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you suspect an allergy, seek medical attention promptly.
- Interaction with Blood-Thinning Medications: Cabbage is rich in vitamin K, which can interfere with blood-thinning medications like Warfarin. If you take such medications, consult your healthcare provider before significantly increasing your cabbage consumption.
Cabbage is a healthy vegetable that has many benefits for your body. It can provide you with essential nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and probiotics that can improve your immunity, inflammation, digestion, and cholesterol levels. However, cabbage also has some side effects that you should be aware of before eating it in large amounts. Cabbage can cause flatulence, diarrhea, hypoglycemia, interference with medication, and colic in baby. These side effects are usually mild and can be avoided by moderating your intake of cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables. If you have any medical conditions or allergies that may affect your tolerance to cabbage, consult your doctor before adding it to your diet.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.