Super food: Cabbage

Cabbage is a part of the cruciferous vegetable family along side cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. Common dense headed leaves of cabbage you see today actually descend from a wild cabbage that was more of a leafy plant, similar to kale or collards that do not form that same head-like structure. Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations applied cabbage in medicinal treatment for variety of health conditions.  Today cabbage is widely cultivated around the world, making it available year round. This inexpensive, robust, nutrient dense vegetable makes it ideal staple ingredient that is relevant to the different diets and dishes of world culture.

Cabbage comes in many shapes and colors starting with the most commonly cultivated green cabbage. Red cabbage is most often used for pickling or stewing with its more distinctive and slightly bitter flavor. White or Dutch cabbage has smooth green leaves, often found in salads or slaws. Savoy cabbage has tender ruffled leaves, and is mild in flavor.

Why is it healthy?                                                                                                                                                             

Cabbage is quite impressive in its phytonutrient antioxidant value. As we know from research, a chronic overload of oxidative stress in the body can create a welcoming environment for cancer cell growth. Including cabbage in your diet can help to cut down this oxidative stress! Glucosinolate compounds are arguably the most potent source of cabbages anti-cancer benefits. These compounds are converted into isothiocyanates, which impart that slightly bitter flavor in different cabbage varieties! They have shown to help prevent certain types of cancer including bladder, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

Cabbage is also an excellent source of vitamin C (yet another antioxidant) and vitamin K (important for blood clotting and bone health). The more colorful and bitter the cabbage, the denser in micronutrients and health promoting constituents!

One cup of chopped red cabbage contains:

–          Greater than 80% of your daily vitamin C

–          About 40% of your daily vitamin K requirement

–          20% of your recommended intake of vitamin A

–          About 10% of your daily vitamin B6

Including Cabbage in your diet-

When purchasing cabbage, choose heads that are shiny, crisp, and firm outer layer free of dark colored bruised and blemishes that my signify pest infiltration.  Cooking or steaming your cabbage lightly versus long cooked cabbage has shown to preserve more potency of its anti-cancer benefits.

Recipe Ideas:

–          Coleslaw  (Tangy Broccoli and Cabbage Slaw in this month’s newsletter)

–          Cabbage rolls (try preparing “lazy” cabbage rolls in your Crock Pot)

–          Cabbage soups and stews

–          Sauteed or braised cabbage

–          Shrimp or chicken cabbage wraps

–          Kimchi or Sauerkraut

–          Gingered Cabbage

–          Stir-fry cabbage in Asian-style noodles

–          Colombian cabbage breakfast cake (recipe sent to My Viva Plan members)

Did you know that…

Cabbage contains thiocyanates derived from glucosinolates (the compound linked to reduced risk of some cancers). It has been thought that these thiocyanates in uncooked cabbage and other raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli have been linked to thyroid dysfunction. In the healthy population, research has disproven this hypothesis in and in fact it is well documented that daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables is beneficial to health. However, if you do have a diagnosed thyroid problem, it may be worthwhile for you to partially cook your cruciferous vegetables and deactivate those thiocyanates, as they may be linked to exacerbating thyroid dysfunction in genetically vulnerable individuals.