9 Impressive Benefits of Red Cabbage

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of red cabbage include prevention of premature aging and cancer, skin and eye care, aiding weight loss, and boosting the immune system boost, among other positive benefits.

What is Red Cabbage?

Red cabbage is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that has become very popular throughout the world for a number of reasons. Also known as purple cabbage or red kraut, it is a member of the Brassicaceae family and can be found throughout Northern Europe, America, and parts of China.

Interestingly enough, it is often used as a pH indicator, since it changes color specifically dependent on the pH balance of its surroundings. The color of the cabbage will actually fluctuate depending on the pH balance of the soil it grows in! It also keeps much better than traditional cabbage, meaning that it doesn’t need to be consumed or pickled to last winter. It is most often used in salads, but it can also be cooked and served as a side dish to certain meat dishes. Furthermore, it can be used in sauerkraut, particularly in German cuisine.

Whole and halved red cabbage on a wooden table

You can cook red cabbage in a number of ways, but the most common way is to braise it. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Cabbage, red, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.39
Energy [kcal]31
Energy [kJ]130
Protein [g]1.43
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.16
Ash [g]0.64
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]7.37
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.1
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]3.83
Sucrose [g]0.6
Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.74
Fructose [g]1.48
Calcium, Ca [mg]45
Iron, Fe [mg]0.8
Magnesium, Mg [mg]16
Phosphorus, P [mg]30
Potassium, K [mg]243
Sodium, Na [mg]27
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.22
Copper, Cu [mg]0.02
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.24
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]57
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.07
Niacin [mg]0.42
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.15
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.21
Folate, total [µg]18
Folate, food [µg]18
Folate, DFE [µg]18
Choline, total [mg]17.1
Betaine [mg]0.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]56
Carotene, beta [µg]670
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1116
Lycopene [µg]20
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]329
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.11
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]38.2
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.08
18:2 [g]0.03
18:3 [g]0.05
20:4 [g]0
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.04
Isoleucine [g]0.03
Leucine [g]0.05
Lysine [g]0.05
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.04
Tyrosine [g]0.02
Valine [g]0.05
Arginine [g]0.08
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.05
Aspartic acid [g]0.14
Glutamic acid [g]0.33
Glycine [g]0.03
Proline [g]0.05
Serine [g]0.06
Sources include : USDA

Red Cabbage Nutrition Facts

One of the main reasons why red cabbage is such a popular vegetable is the wealth of phytochemicals, antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These essential components include  B-vitamins calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, dietary fiber. Its organic compounds are almost too many to list, but its antioxidants like anthocyanins and indoles are extremely valuable for human health.

Health Benefits of Red Cabbage

Health benefits of red cabbage include the following:

Anticancer Potential

One of the most important functions of red cabbage is its potential role in cancer prevention. Dr. Jagdish Singh, et al., published a report in the Scientia Horticulturae Journal, which states that the high levels of antioxidants including anthocyanins and indoles, in red cabbage, make it extremely important as a preventative measure. This is actually where the purple color comes from, as some of these phytochemicals normally show in this hue. The rich coloring is proof of just how powerful these vegetables are for your overall health. According to the National Cancer Institute, the indoles in cruciferous vegetables such as red cabbage have been connected to reducing breast cancer in women. More research is needed, but these initial findings are promising.

Weight Loss

Red cabbage is very low in calories, but high in dietary fiber (and, as mentioned, has a wealth of important vitamins and minerals). Basically, this means that it gives you more bang for your buck, in terms of weight loss, leaving you feeling full and taking care of your nutritional needs. This can be a great addition to your daily diet if you are trying to lose weight, maintain a diet regimen, or simply decrease your intake of calories.

Anti-aging Properties

There are a number of aspects in red cabbage that makes it ideal for keeping you looking young. Antioxidants, for one, do more than just protecting you from the impact of free radicals; they also help reduce the signs of aging that can occur due to free radicals. Antioxidants can help keep your skin fresh, tight, and flexible, reducing wrinkles and age spots. The high levels of vitamin A (discussed later) is very beneficial for skin health, regrowth of skin cells, protection from sun damage, and the elasticity of the skin.

Eye Care

The high levels of vitamin A are not only good for your skin, but also for your eyes. Vitamin A helps keep the eyesight healthy and prevents macular degeneration and cataract formation. It can also be converted into beta-carotene, which is very important for maintaining eye health as you age.

Contributes to Healing

Red cabbage contains a large amount of amino acid glutamine. This specific amino acid is connected with reducing the inflammation and pain associated with ulcers in the gastrointestinal system. Red cabbage juice is thought to be the best remedy for this condition and has been used as a home remedy for a very long time.

Boosts Immune System

Red cabbage contains a wealth of vitamins, including vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an important antioxidant and a massive element of our immune system. It stimulates the activity of white blood cells, which form the first line of defense for the immune system. Furthermore, vitamin C is important in the formation of collagen, which keeps our bodies and cells connected and solid.

Protects from Alzheimer’s Disease

A 2018 research study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants indicates that red cabbage showed evidence of antioxidant and anticholinesterase properties. This could help prevent or mitigate the negative effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies are needed to gauge the full potential of red cabbage, however, these initial results are promising.

Increases Bone Mineral Density

The high concentrations of certain essential minerals make red cabbage excellent veggies for healthy bone growth and development. Like other vegetables in the Brassicaceae family, this cabbage is rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, and other important minerals that contribute to bone growth and mineral density that protects against osteoporosis, arthritis, and various other types of inflammation.

Word of Caution: If you suffer from hypothyroidism, it is recommended that you use caution when consuming red cabbage.

Other than that, enjoy all the cabbage you want!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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