20 Amazing Benefits & Uses of Cabbage

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

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The health benefits of cabbage include its frequent use as a treatment for constipation, stomach ulcers, headaches, obesity, skin disorders, eczema, jaundice, and scurvy. It also helps prevent or delay the onset of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, eye disorders, heart diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Cabbage?

Cabbage is a leafy green, red, or white biennial vegetable that is grown 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 is widely used throughout the world, given its health benefits, and can be prepared in a number of ways. Most commonly, it is included as either a cooked or raw part of many salads. Cabbage belongs to the group of cole crops, which means that it is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

Watch Video: 8 Incredible Benefits Of Cabbage

Types of Cabbage

There are more or less 7 varieties of cabbage, 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

Nutrition Facts

Cabbage, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]92.18
Energy [kcal]25
Protein [g]1.28
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.1
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]5.8
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.5
Sugars, total [g]3.2
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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]36.6
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.04
Niacin [mg]0.23
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.12
Folate, DFE [µg]43
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]5
Vitamin A, IU [IU]98
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.15
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]76
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Nutrition

Cabbage is a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. As per the USDA Nutrient Database, it also contains other various vitamins. With a 100 gram serving of cabbage containing only about 25 calories, it proudly holds a place as a healthy addition to your diet. It is also high in antioxidants including flavonoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, choline, and beta-carotene.

Health Benefits of Cabbage

Did you know that the inexpensive and widely used cabbage can practically work miracles? Let’s take the look at the best ones!

Antioxidant Agent

Cabbage has many antioxidants–particularly red cabbage, which is chock full of anthocyanins. Research shows that antioxidants can reduce inflammation, be protective against certain cancers and enhance brain function.

Anti-inflammatory Agent

Research by Professor Herbert Tilg in Clinical Phytoscience suggests that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage have anti-inflammatory properties. They contain sulforaphane, which is a compound that reduces inflammation.

Cabbage is also known to accumulate a build-up of cadmium-binding complexes in its leaves; one of the main components of that is glutamine. Glutamine is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, so consuming it can help to reduce inflammation, irritation, allergies, joint pain, fever, and various skin disorders.

Anticancer Properties

The journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Preventionpublished research suggesting that brassica vegetables like cabbage- which contain a relatively high content of glucosinolates, have anti-carcinogenic properties. This means that cabbage and other similar vegetables scavenge free radicals, which can be detrimental to overall health and are major contributors to cancer and heart diseases.

Cabbage also contains glucosinolates that can be converted into isothiocyanate compounds. This conversion helps in the prevention of various cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and colon cancer.

Red cabbage specifically has a number of anti-cancer compounds like lupeol, sinigrin, and sulforaphane (glucosinolates derived isothiocyanate), which are known to stimulate enzyme activity and inhibit the growth of tumors that lead to cancer.

A study in the journal Pharmacological Research examining a population of primarily Chinese women, showed a significant reduction in breast cancer when cruciferous vegetables like cabbage were regularly added to their diet.

Supports the Digestive Tract

Rich in fiber and glucosinolates, cabbage helps the body retain water and it maintains the bulkiness of the food as it moves through the bowels. A 2012 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that fiber, present in cabbage, helps bulk up the bowel movements and treat constipation.

A lack of roughage in food can result in constipation, which is the root cause of many other ailments such as stomach ulcers, headaches, gastrointestinal cancers, indigestion, and a subsequent loss of appetite. The dangers of roughage or fiber deficiency may even extend to hundreds of mild to serious conditions, including eczema and premature aging.

Regulates Heart Health & Cholesterol

As per a 2012 study lead by Dr. Piotr Duchnowicz of the University of Łódź in Poland, cabbage is rich in polyphenols, which reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering LDL cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, and preventing platelet build-up. Also, by binding the bile acids, cabbage helps to lower your bad cholesterol levels.

Protects from Radiation Therapy

Cabbage has a rare compound called 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM), which has been shown to counteract some of the negative effects associated with radiation therapy. It helps in ensuring that the red and white blood cells and the platelet count remain existent, which is often not the case during radiation therapy. Therefore, DIM is also favored for use during cancer treatment in order to protect healthy tissue.

Boosts Immunity

Due to the high vitamin C content of cabbage, it helps in boosting the immune system and fighting off free radicals.

Skin Care & Vitamin C

As a cruciferous vegetable, cabbage is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, anthocyanins, and sulfur. Antioxidants play a major role in skin health and the body’s response to the aging process. Free radicals can be an underlying cause of wrinkles, skin discoloration, spots, and many other conditions. Therefore, the antioxidants you get by eating cabbage can cause a turn-around in your aging processes, leaving you feeling and looking healthy and young.

Weight Loss

Cabbage is frequently recommended for people who want to lose weight in a healthy way. Since cabbage is packed with many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including water and fiber, it is a healthy dietary option for people looking to eat healthier and shedding pounds. It is also low in calories, containing only 33 calories in a cup of cooked cabbage. Given these beneficial traits, the fad “cabbage soup” diet is often used for those looking to lose weight fast. Be aware that cabbage is not nutritionally complete, and should be made a part of a balanced, healthy diet, not the main component!

Prevents Cataract

Cabbage is a rich source of beta-carotene, so many people, particularly as they get older, turn to cabbage for its ability to prevent macular degeneration and promote good eye health and delay cataract formation.

Health benefits of cabbage - infographic

Hair Care

Cabbage, being rich in sulfur and silicon, helps in preventing dry hair. It also has a high vitamin A content that acts as an antioxidant and promotes hair growth.

Prevents Prostate Cancer

Cabbage has an abundant amount of beta-carotene. As per studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology, dietary beta-carotene has been positively linked with reduced chances of prostate cancer, which is an extra bonus on top of other anti-carcinogenic effects of cabbage!

Improves Brain Health

Let’s not forget that cabbage is very powerful brain food! The presence of vitamin K and anthocyanins within cabbage can give a strong boost to mental function and concentration. Vitamin K is essential for the production of sphingolipids, the myelin sheath around some nerves cells. This wrapping is what protects the nerves from damage and decay. Therefore, consuming vitamin K containing foods can improve your defense against neural degeneration.

The anthocyanins in it are a current area of research, but early indications point to it being an even more powerful source of antioxidants than vitamin C!; and red cabbage has even more types of anthocyanins than normal cabbage. It also appears that the nutrient uptake is not limited by anything and that people can eat as much cabbage as they want, and continue to accumulate antioxidants, which help fight off diseases, reduce chances of cancer, improve the nervous system, and increase brain function.

Cabbage, being rich in iodine, also helps in the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system, along with keeping the glands of the endocrine system in proper condition.

Improves Bones

Cabbage, as well as all cruciferous vegetables, are great sources of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These three essential minerals are integral in the protection of bones from degradation and the onset of conditions like osteoporosis and general bone weakening.

Regulates Blood Pressure

Red cabbage happens to be a good source of anthocyanins. A study by Professor Ailsa A. Welch and her team states that “Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women.” Simply put, anthocyanin-rich cabbage helps lower blood pressure levels and prevents heart diseases.

Also, the presence of potassium in cabbage also makes it a wonderful way to protect yourself from elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means that it opens up the blood vessels and eases the flow of blood, so it isn’t being forced in a stress-inducing way through constricted arteries and veins. Overall, it is a great shield against many types of dangerous conditions!

Reduces Muscle Aches

When certain bacteria ferment the sugars in cabbage during the preparation of sauerkraut, lactic acid is released. It isn’t the easiest compound to find in a diet, but it has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and aches. So in some small way, it can help in general pain relief and muscle soreness, depending on how it is prepared.

Speeds-up Healing

Cabbage is rich in sulfur, which is a very useful nutrient as it fights infections. A deficiency of sulfur can result in microbial infections and a greatly reduced healing speed. It also reduces the frequency and severity of ulcers.

Other benefits

Cabbage can also be used for the treatment of varicose veins, leg ulcers, and peptic and duodenal ulcers.

Basically, this common component of your Chinese dishes could be a miraculous addition to your diet. Don’t be afraid to add cabbage to your daily diet, whether it is in your soup or salad, and that small change will help you live a healthier and longer life.

Uses

Cabbage can be used in various culinary uses and can be incorporated into our daily diet in the following ways:

  • Salads: Cabbage can be shredded into salads with salt and other spices.
  • Soups: It can also be boiled into a soup and served hot.
  • Stews: It can be served raw or steamed into a stew with water and salt.

Side effects

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

  • Bloating
  • Foodborne illness
  • Goiter
  • Iodine intake
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Drop in blood sugar levels
  • Colic

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 is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. 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. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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