8 Health Benefits of Cabbage – Cleveland Clinic

Cabbage may not be the most attractive vegetable, but it is full of nutrients that can make you feel strong and healthy. From boosting your immune system to improving digestion (sometimes with disturbing results), kale and its health benefits deserve a place on your table.

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This common leafy green vegetable comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes that you can use in soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Eat it raw or fried to get the most benefit. Find it fermented in gut-healthy foods like sauerkraut and kimchi—or chopped into coleslaw for a quick fix.

“Cabbage is good for you. It’s one of those foods that tastes better than it looks and has even more nutritional value than people expect,” says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD. “Plus, it’s versatile, affordable and easy to find.”

Zumpano explores the benefits of eating kale and how it can improve your health.

8 Ways Cabbage Is Good For You

Many people recognize cabbage for its abundance of fiber, vitamins and minerals. One cup of chopped, raw kale is just 22 calories and delivers:

  • 54% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
  • 85% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K.
  • More than 2 grams of fiber.
  • 1 gram of protein.

“Cabbage is also a potassium-rich food that can help lower high blood pressure,” says Zumpano. “The more we learn about cabbage, the better it promises to be.”

Research shows that leafy green vegetables in general are good for you, but we need more research to understand how kale specifically affects your body. Zumpano says many people believe that the nutritional value of kale means it can have any of the following benefits.

1. Fights inflammation

Some of the health benefits of cabbage are due to anthocyanins, which are natural antioxidants. Anthocyanins not only add color to your fruits (think blueberries) and vegetables, but they can also reduce inflammation.

Chronic inflammation (long-term swelling) is linked to heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other medical conditions. Anthocyanins have been shown in animal studies to help control inflammation.

We need more research, but one small human study showed that those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables had much lower levels of inflammation than those who ate the least.

2. Keeps you strong

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, does a lot of work for your body. It helps produce collagen and boosts your immune system. It also helps your body absorb iron from plant foods.

3. Improves digestion

Packed with phytosterols (plant sterols) and insoluble fiber, kale can help keep your digestive system healthy and bowel movements regular. It nourishes the good bacteria in your gut that protect your immune system and produce essential nutrients. This is especially true when eating fermented cabbage in kimchi or sauerkraut.

“Cabbage can help you stay regular,” says Zumpano. “It can also help maintain safe and healthy weight loss.”

Fiber is indigestible or absorbable carbohydrates, so it adds bulk to food and takes up space in your stomach, making you feel fuller faster and longer without absorbing carbohydrates that you digest.

4. Protects your heart

The anthocyanins found in cabbage help with more than just inflammation. Research shows that they add to the health benefits of kale by reducing the risk of heart disease. Scientists have found 36 different types of anthocyanins in cabbage, which may make it an excellent option for cardiovascular health.

5. Lowers your blood pressure

Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that helps your body control blood pressure. One cup of red cabbage can provide a healthy amount of potassium – up to 6% of the recommended daily value. This can help lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease.

6. Lowers cholesterol

Too much “bad” cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, can cause heart problems if it builds up in your arteries. Cabbage contains two substances – fiber and phytosterols (plant sterols) – that compete with cholesterol to be absorbed by the digestive system. They reduce bad cholesterol levels and improve your health.

7. Supports bone health and healthy blood clotting

Vitamin K is essential for your well-being. Without it, you would be at risk of developing bone diseases such as osteoporosis and your blood would not be able to clot properly. Enter kale, a great source of vitamin K. One cup provides 85% of the recommended daily value.

“Vitamin K helps keep our bones strong and our blood clotting well,” Zumpano says. “Cabbage can give you that boost you need to make sure your levels are adequate and your body stays protected against disease. And you don’t even have to eat that much kale to get major health benefits.

8. Prevents cancer

Early animal studies show that leafy green vegetables like cabbage have phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer. They contain antioxidants and plant compounds such as glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing chemicals are broken down during the digestive process into substances that can help fight cancer cells and clear them from your body.

What are the side effects of eating cabbage?

Are you excited to add more kale to your diet? Just be careful not to overdo it. To maximize the health benefits, increase your kale intake slowly and let your body adjust. Also, stay hydrated to reduce constipation, which can cause excess gas.

Cabbage may not be the best choice for a romantic evening, as eating too much can cause diarrhea, flatulence or abdominal discomfort. It also contains substances that can interfere with medications such as blood thinners or cause hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone and slows down your metabolism.

In most cases, you can avoid side effects by eating kale as part of a healthy diet. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or have any concerns.

What are the types of cabbage?

Cabbage belongs to Brassica oleracea types of vegetables, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The most common type is green cabbage. But there are hundreds of other varieties in shades of red, white and purple, with a range of textures and sizes.

Some forms of cabbage have subtle, delicate flavors, while others pack a peppery kick. Cabbage nutrition comes from species such as:

  • Bok choy (and baby bok choy), with leaves emerging from a central stem.
  • Brussels sprouts, small round sprouts that grow on a thick stem.
  • A green cabbage (cabbage) that has tightly packed smooth leaves and a firm head that can grow almost as large as a basketball.
  • January King Cabbage, a magnificent live cabbage with green and purple colored leaves.
  • Kale, with wrinkled, dark green leaves spreading from a central stem.
  • Napa cabbage (Chinese or celery), which has long, light green leaves on a thick white stalk.
  • Red cabbage, a round, red-colored cabbage that is particularly nutritious and usually smaller than green cabbage.
  • Savoy cabbage, kale with loosely layered, striated leaves.

Enjoy the health benefits of cabbage

Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that is affordable, widely available and easy to prepare. Store it whole and unwashed in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it, Zumpano recommends. And when you’re ready, it won’t take long to find easy kale recipes that add a (healthy) twist to your diet and color to your plate.

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