7 Proven Health Benefits & Uses of Cabbage

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Cabbage, a common vegetable found worldwide, is not just a versatile ingredient in dishes like coleslaw, sauerkraut, kimchi, and various rolls, but also a powerhouse of health benefits. This leafy vegetable, belonging to the Brassica family, comes in green, red, or white colors and is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Rich in antioxidants, cabbage offers numerous health advantages including improved brain and digestive function, skin protection, and heart disease prevention, all while being a low-calorie option. This blog will delve into the varied types of cabbage, its nutritional value, and the multitude of health benefits it provides.

What is Cabbage?

Cabbage is a leafy green, red, or white biennial vegetable that grows annually. This cruciferous vegetable belongs to the Brassica family and is round or oval in shape. It consists of soft, light green, or whitish inner leaves covered with harder and dark green outer leaves. It belongs to the group of cole crops, which means that it is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It is widely used throughout the world and can be prepared in several ways. Most commonly, it can be included as either a cooked or raw part of many salads.

Watch Video: 8 Incredible Benefits Of Cabbage

8 Incredible Benefits Of Cabbage | Organic Facts

Types of Cabbage

There are more or less 7 types, including the following:

  • Red cabbage
  • Choy sum
  • Bok choy
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Napa cabbage
  • Cannonball cabbage
  • January king cabbage
Whole cabbage with chopped cabbage on a wooden table

Cabbage makes an interesting addition to salads. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Cabbage, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]92.18
Energy 25
Energy [kJ]103
Protein [g]1.28
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.1
Ash [g]0.64
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]5.8
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]3.2
Sucrose [g]0.08
Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.67
Fructose [g]1.45
Maltose [g]0.01
Calcium, Ca [mg]40
Iron, Fe [mg]0.47
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]26
Potassium, K [mg]170
Sodium, Na [mg]18
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.18
Copper, Cu [mg]0.02
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.16
Selenium, Se [µg]0.3
Fluoride, F [µg]1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]36.6
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.04
Niacin [mg]0.23
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.21
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.12
Folate, total [µg]43
Folate, food [µg]43
Folate, DFE [µg]43
Choline, total [mg]10.7
Betaine [mg]0.4
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]5
Carotene, beta [µg]42
Carotene, alpha [µg]33
Vitamin A, IU [IU]98
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]30
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.15
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.04
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]76
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
16:0 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.02
18:2 [g]0.02
Phytosterols [mg]11
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.04
Isoleucine [g]0.03
Leucine [g]0.04
Lysine [g]0.04
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.03
Tyrosine [g]0.02
Valine [g]0.04
Arginine [g]0.08
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.04
Aspartic acid [g]0.12
Glutamic acid [g]0.29
Glycine [g]0.03
Proline [g]0.05
Serine [g]0.05
Sources include : USDA [2]

Cabbage Nutrition

Cabbage can be a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. As per the USDA, it can also contain various vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, and folate. It may also be high in antioxidants including flavonoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, choline, and beta-carotene. [3]

Calories in Cabbage

According to the USDA, 100 g of raw cabbage contains about 25 calories, which makes it popular with those looking for low-calorie options. Cooking the vegetable can lower its calorie content slightly. 100 g of the cooked vegetable may contain about 23 calories. [4]

Health Benefits of Cabbage

Did you know that the inexpensive and widely used cabbage might be full of health benefits? Let’s take a look at the best ones!

Antioxidant Agent

Cabbage, particularly in its raw and pickled red forms, is a rich source of antioxidants. Studies have shown that these cabbages have the highest total phenolic and flavonoid contents, contributing to their strong antioxidant capacity. This capacity is closely linked to the presence of polyphenolics like kaempferol, quercetin, apigenin, and especially cyanidin in red cabbage. The correlation between these compounds and antioxidant capacity is robust, underscoring the health benefits of cabbage.  [5]

Anti-inflammatory Agent

Recent research highlights the remarkable anti-inflammatory properties of cabbage. A study published in Clinical Phytoscience identified that cabbage and other cruciferous veggies harbor a compound called sulforaphane, known to combat inflammation.  [6]

Furthermore, cabbage is rich in other potent anti-inflammatory agents such as kaempferolAn interesting component is glutamine, which is found in the cabbage’s cadmium-binding complexes. Consuming glutamine might assist in alleviating ailments like allergies, joint pain, and even certain skin disorders. [7]

Delving deeper, a separate study found that cabbage juice extract, when applied topically, remarkably reduced inflammation in mice suffering from contact dermatitis.  [8]

Echoing this, Polish folk medicine has long heralded crushed cabbage leaves as a remedy for various inflammatory issues, from rheumatic pain to gastrointestinal concerns. [9]

Might Improve Heart Health

Cabbage, abundant in polyphenols, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. It lowers blood pressure, prevents platelet build-up, and can decrease bad cholesterol levels by binding bile acids.  [10]

Additionally, cabbage contains anthocyanins, which extend beyond reducing inflammation. Research indicates these compounds significantly lower the risk of heart disease. With 36 different types of anthocyanins identified in cabbage, it emerges as a robust food for cardiovascular health. [11] [12]

Rich in Vitamin C & Assists Skin Care

While both green and red cabbage contain vitamin C, red cabbage has a higher concentration. [13] [14]

Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, which is the body’s most prevalent protein. This protein is vital for providing strength and elasticity to the skin and is crucial for the healthy functioning of bones, muscles, and blood vessels. [15]

 

Health benefits of cabbage infographic

Cabbage is a leafy green, red, or white biennial vegetable that grows annually.

Supports Brain Health

Red cabbage contains anthocyanins, which might help fight aging. A study gave aging mice red cabbage extracts for 12 weeks, leading to improved memory and thinking skills. These extracts boosted protective enzymes in the body and reduced harmful substances, protecting brain cells. They also lowered inflammation and positively influenced gut health, highlighting a link between our gut and brain health. This suggests red cabbage could be a natural way to maintain mental sharpness with age however human studies are needed to back this claim. [16]

Improves Bones

Like all cruciferous vegetables, cabbage can be a great source of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These three essential minerals can be integral in the protection of bones from degradation and the onset of conditions like osteoporosis and general bone weakening. The National Spine Health Foundation recommends Vitamin K-rich foods like cabbage to strengthen bones, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. [17]

Speeds-up Healing

While human research is still evolving, animal studies suggest cabbage juice may aid in healing stomach ulcers. A study on rats showed that cabbage extract significantly hastened the healing of stomach ulcers and even helped prevent their formation. [18]

How to Use Cabbage?

You might find cabbage in almost every avatar across the world, steamed, sauteed, fried, juiced, raw, and fermented. Uncooked cabbage makes a crispy addition to salads and coleslaws. Cooked, it can be found in soups, stews, and stir-fries. The fermented version with kimchi and sauerkraut is both healthy and unique in its flavor profile. Click on our recipes from across the world for salads, soups, juice, and stews.

Side effects

Cabbages may also have a few side effects on your body, including the following:

  • Sulfur-rich food like cabbage can cause bloating and flatulence. [19]
  • There is some evidence to suggest that its intake by a breastfeeding woman can cause colic in her baby. [20]
  • Some people may be allergic to cabbage. If you have shown an allergic reaction to a vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae/Cruciferae, such as broccoli, it is best to be cautious.
  • Consumption of this vegetable is not recommended for people with hypothyroidism. [21]
  • Consult your doctor if you are scheduled for surgery. Some vegetables with high vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners.

Aside from these issues, cabbage is one such vegetable that can be added to any number of dishes and still be enjoyed just the same with its amazing health benefits. So don’t forget to add it to your cart next time you go grocery shopping!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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