12 Proven Health Benefits & Uses of Cabbage

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

Cabbage might just be one of the most commonly found vegetables on the planet. From coleslaws, sauerkraut, kimchi, to rolls, you will find delicious recipes across different cultures. But did you know that it can also pack a hefty dose of health benefits? Rich in antioxidants, cabbage can help improve brain function, digestion while protecting against skin disorders, and heart diseases. It can also be a great low-cal option.

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 :
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

The antioxidants in this vegetable come from Vitamin C and flavonoids, such as quercetin, and apigenin. Red cabbage might be particularly potent, as it is full of anthocyanins. Research shows that antioxidants can reduce inflammation and enhance brain function. [5] [6]

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.  [7]

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. [8]

Delving deeper, a separate study found that cabbage juice extract, when applied topically, remarkably reduced inflammation in mice suffering from contact dermatitis.  [9]

Echoing this, Polish folk medicine has long heralded crushed cabbage leaves as a remedy for various inflammatory issues, from rheumatic pain to gastrointestinal concerns. [10]

May Support the Digestive Tract

A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that fiber, present in cabbage, can help bulk up bowel movements and treat constipation. Rich in fiber and glucosinolates, cabbage may help the body retain water and it might maintain the bulkiness of the food as it moves through the bowels. [11]

Might Improve Heart Health

According to a study, cabbage is rich in polyphenols, which might reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing blood pressure and preventing platelet build-up. Also, by binding the bile acids, it can help to lower your bad cholesterol levels. [12]

Skin Care & Vitamin C

According to the New Wellness Encyclopedia, cabbage of all kinds are rich in vitamin C. A cup and a half of uncooked red cabbage can meet your daily vitamin C requirement. The high quantity of vitamin C has another advantage, of promoting your skin health. It might provide photoprotection, help in wound healing, reducing wrinkling, and dry skin. [13] [14]

Weight Loss

Cabbage is frequently recommended for people who want to lose weight healthily. Since the vegetable 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 may also low in calories, containing only 33 calories in a cup of the cooked vegetable. Given these beneficial traits, the fad “cabbage soup” diet is often used for those looking to lose weight fast. However, be aware that it may not be nutritionally complete, and should be made a part of a balanced, healthy diet, not the main component!

Prevents Cataract

Cabbage might be 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. [15] [16]

Health benefits of cabbage infographic

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

Supports Brain Health

Cabbage may be rich in vitamin K, iodine, and antioxidants like anthocyanins. These elements can be beneficial as building blocks for the brain. But emerging research shows that it might do far more than maintain the structural integrity of the brain and the nervous system. A 2019 research by the University of Rochester, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage may help in reducing levels of bad tau proteins that are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommended cruciferous vegetables for improving memory. [17] [18] [19]

Improves Bones

Like all cruciferous vegetables, it 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. [20]

Regulates Blood Pressure

Red cabbage may just be a good source of anthocyanins. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women.” Simply put, this anthocyanin-rich vegetable might help lower blood pressure levels and prevent heart diseases. [21]

The presence of potassium might protect you from elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means that it might open 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 can be 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 might 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. [22]

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 might reduce the frequency and severity of ulcers. [23]

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.

It has another unusual and interesting usage. Chilled cabbage leaves are traditionally used by breastfeeding women to relieve breast engorgement and pain. Research has given us mixed results. While some studies were inconclusive, others found that the leaves might reduce breast engorgement and increased breastfeeding duration. [24]

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. [25]
  • There is some evidence to suggest that its intake by a breastfeeding woman can cause colic in her baby. [26]
  • 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. [27]
  • 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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