The one food you’re skipping may be one of the best health foods out there, and although you may not want reasons to eat more cabbage, you should seriously reconsider!
Cabbage has been a staple food for many throughout history. Unfortunately, with the ever-growing vegetable options out there, cabbage is often shunned to the side.
But when looking at the impressive health benefits of cabbage and everything it has to offer, you’d be shocked to discover why you haven’t made the effort to eat this vegetable more often.
Cabbage Nutrition Facts
Cabbage is loaded with all kinds of vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in vitamins K, C, and B6. It also contains an impressive amount of manganese.
While green cabbage is beneficial, red cabbage is even more so. Here are some nutrition facts for 1 cup of cooked red cabbage:
In addition to vitamins and minerals, cabbage also comes with some pretty special phytonutrients that make it a superb antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food.
10 Health Benefits of Cabbage
If you’re a fan of kimchi, coleslaw or sauerkraut, you likely eat a lot of cabbage already. If not, try cutting some up in your salad or sneaking it into soups and stews.
Here are some of the many health benefits of cabbage, all backed by science.
Inflammation is something we all experience. It’s not that it is necessarily bad, but under certain conditions, it can be.
Inflammation can be either acute or chronic. When it is acute, it is usually our body’s way of going to work and repairing parts of the body that are injured or hurt in some way.
When inflammation becomes chronic, however, tissues in the body become slowly damaged over a long period of time, which can eventually manifest as chronic disease.
Anthocyanin’s in cabbage, particularly red cabbage, reduce inflammation, which in turn helps reduce aches and pains (1).
Glutamine, an anti-inflammatory compound found in cabbage, is also known for helping reduce the effects of inflammation in cases such as fever, skin conditions, allergies, and joint pain (2✓).
One study performed on over 1,000 Chinese women found that those who had the highest intake of cruciferous veggies had the lowest levels of inflammatory markers circulating in their blood (3✓).
Flavonoid compounds found in cabbage, like kaempferol, sulforaphane, and other antioxidants are likely attributable to these effects (4✓).
2. Immune Support
When levels of inflammation are lower in the body, our immune system has a chance to settle down, and focus on other functions in the body that depend on proper immunity (like defense from viruses and bacteria).
Eating cabbage stimulates the immune system due to the high concentration of antioxidants like vitamin C.
Vitamin C, if you don’t know already, is an incredible antioxidant that protects the body against free radical damage. It has even been found to protect against chronic diseases like cancer (5✓).
Cabbage also happens to be loaded with enzymes and beneficial prebiotics, which nourish the gut.
Our gut is an integral part of our immune system, as it is tightly interwoven with the lymphatic system. Keeping our gut healthy is essential for strong immunity (6✓).
3. Heals Stomach Ulcers
Cabbage works wonders for healing stomach ulcers. The ulcer-healing component of cabbage, called S-methylmethionine (or “vitamin U”), helps ease the stomach and provides relief for those experiencing ulcers (7✓).
Cabbage is also a great source of the amino acid L-glutamine, which helps strengthen the mucosal lining of the gut and increases blood flow to the stomach.
The effects of L-glutamine work by reducing inflammatory cytokines, helping people recover from food sensitivities, and other gut-related issues (8✓).
If you want to help heal your stomach ulcers, drink 1 liter (1 quart) of cabbage juice throughout the day for 10-13 days.
4. Cancer Prevention
Cabbage contains a handful of anti-cancer compounds like sinigrin, lupeol, and sulforaphane, all of which help stimulate enzyme activity and thereby inhibit tumor cell growth (9✓).
In fact, populations of people who consume lots of cabbage have also been found to exhibit the lowest colon cancer rates (10✓).
When the body digests cabbage, a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) is produced. Studies have shown that I-3-C reduces inflammation of the gut and cancer risk by activating a protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) (11✓). AhR plays an important role in the gut, sending messages to immune and epithelial cells that make up our gut wall to protect us from inflammation and cancer.
5. Colon Cleanser
An incredible healer for the digestive tract, cabbage is renowned for its colon-cleansing abilities.
The high fiber and prebiotic content make it an excellent food to help push out the toxic matter and support the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria.
Cabbage contains insoluble fiber, which keeps the digestive tract healthy by nourishing the bacteria in the gut. Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to stools and promotes regular bowel movements (12✓).
In addition, cabbage also contains soluble fiber, which is an important fuel source for beneficial bacteria in the gut like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (13✓).
These bacteria help produce essential nutrients our body needs to thrive like vitamins K2 and B12 (14✓).
6. Clears Problem-Prone Skin
Cabbage is great for healing the skin.
It is a great source of sulfur and silica, two compounds that improve the health of the skin. Sulfur helps aid cells by drawing in nutrients and eliminating waste. This type of activity is essential for clear, supple skin.
Sulfur helps to dry out the surface of the skin to help absorb excess sebum that often exacerbates conditions in those with acne-prone skin.
Sulfur is also present in large amounts in the protein keratin. Keratin is a protein substance necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Cabbage also contains a host of antioxidants that are necessary for fighting free radicals. Free radicals encourage oxidative damage to your cells, which leaves the skin looking dull, dry, and aged (15✓).
7. High in B Vitamins For Nervous System Support
Consuming purple cabbage will help reduce your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later in life, due to the protective properties of both vitamins B and K.
B vitamins help nourish and support our nervous system, helping to restore nerve cells, improve blood supply to the brain and more.
Vitamin K (primarily found in red cabbage), a “forgotten vitamin,” is involved in the production of sphingolipids, the myelin sheath around nerves (16✓). The myelin sheath protects our nerves from damage and decay.
8. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Cabbage can provide you with real cholesterol-lowering benefits. The soluble fiber in cabbage binds with the bile acids of your digestive tract, making it easier for bile acids to be excreted, thus lowering your cholesterol levels.
Cabbage also contains certain plant sterols that have been shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are plant compounds that are structurally similar to cholesterol and block absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract.
Phytosterols are so great at reducing cholesterol that increasing your intake of them by just 1 gram per day reduces LDL cholesterol by up to 5% (17✓).
9. Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Per calorie, cabbage contains more omega-3 oils than salmon.
Why are omega-3 fatty acids important? They help prevent inflammatory diseases like heart disease and arthritis and are necessary during fetal development.
Several studies also suggest omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome (18✓).
10. Bone Health
High in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, cabbage makes an excellent food for the bones.
These three essential minerals are required for proper bone maintenance and support and help protect against conditions like osteoporosis and bone fractures.