While it may look a lot like lettuce, it actually belongs to the Brassica genus of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and kale. It comes in a variety of shapes and colors, including red, purple, white and green, and its leaves can be either crinkled or smooth.
This vegetable has been grown around the world for thousands of years and can be found in a variety of dishes, including sauerkraut, kimchi and coleslaw. Additionally, cabbage is loaded with vitamins and minerals. This article uncovers 9 surprising health benefits of cabbage, all backed by science.
1. Cabbage Is Packed With Nutrients
Cabbage also contains small amounts of other micronutrients, including vitamin A, iron and riboflavin. As you can see in the list above, it is rich in vitamin B6 and folate, both of which are essential for many important processes in the body, including energy metabolism and the normal functioning of the nervous system.
In addition, cabbage is high in fiber and contains powerful antioxidants, including polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an odd number of electrons, making them unstable. When their levels become too high, they can damage your cells.
In fact, your body relies on the inflammatory response to protect against infection or speed up healing. This kind of acute inflammation is a normal response to an injury or infection. On the other hand, chronic inflammation that occurs over a long period of time is associated with many diseases, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease
One study including over 1,000 Chinese women showed that those who ate the highest amounts of cruciferous vegetables had considerably lower levels of inflammation, compared to those who ate the lowest amount.
In fact, it has been extensively researched for its potential cancer-fighting qualities. Vitamin C works to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which has been associated with many chronic diseases, including cancer.
Evidence suggests that a diet high in vitamin-C-rich foods is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. In fact, a recent analysis of 21 studies found that the risk of lung cancer decreased by 7% for each daily 100-mg increase in vitamin C intake.
However, this study was limited because it could not determine whether the decreased risk of lung cancer was caused by vitamin C or other compounds found in fruits and vegetables. While many observational studies have found a link between higher vitamin C intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers, results from controlled studies remain inconsistent.
This crunchy vegetable is full of gut-friendly insoluble fiber, a type of carbohydrate that can’t be broken down in the intestines. Insoluble fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements .
What’s more, it’s rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is because fiber is the main fuel source for friendly species like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria perform important functions like protecting the immune system and producing critical nutrients like vitamins K2 and B12.
Red cabbage contains powerful compounds called anthocyanins. They give this delicious vegetable its vibrant purple color. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that belong to the flavonoid family. Many studies have found a link between eating foods rich in this pigment and a reduced risk of heart disease.
In a study including 93,600 women, researchers found that those with a higher intake of anthocyanin-rich foods had a much lower risk of a heart attack . Another analysis of 13 observational studies that included 344,488 people had similar findings. It found that increasing flavonoid intake by 10 mg per day was associated with a 5% lower risk of heart disease.
High blood pressure affects more than one billion people worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Doctors often advise patients with high blood pressure to reduce their salt intake.
However, recent evidence suggests that increasing your dietary potassium is just as important for lowering blood pressure. Potassium is an important mineral and electrolyte that the body needs to function properly. One of its main jobs is to help regulate blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium in the body. Potassium helps excrete excess sodium through urine. It also relaxes blood vessel walls, which lowers blood pressure.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell in your body, Some people think all cholesterol is bad, but it’s essential for the body’s proper functioning. Critical processes depend on cholesterol, such as proper digestion and the synthesis of hormones and vitamin D.
However, people who have high cholesterol also tend to have an increased risk of heart disease, especially when they have elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Cabbage contains two substances that have been shown to decrease unhealthy levels of LDL cholesterol.
It can be eaten raw or cooked and added to a wide variety of dishes like salads, soups, stews and slaws. This versatile veggie can even be fermented and made into sauerkraut.
In addition to being adaptable to many recipes, cabbage is extremely affordable. No matter how you prepare cabbage, adding this cruciferous vegetable to your plate is a tasty way to benefit your health.