Why You Should Add More Cabbage to Your Diet
As the second most consumed vegetable in the world, eclipsed only by the potato, cabbage is one of those miracle veggies that can not only increase your overall health, it may become a culinary staple. We’ll have to see. Let’s go to our sponsors:
Cabbage is a leafy green vegetable in the Brassicaceae family and comes in both green and purple colors. It has great nutritional value and can be cooked in an assortment of ways as well as being consumed raw.
Cabbage is one of those universal vegetables that has been around for millennia. While usually associated with the Irish, cabbage has been around for more than 4,000 years, and originally hails from the Mediterranean region, where it was common along the seacoast. Cabbage thrives in cooler climates, making it ideal for growing anywhere. The full-bodied head we know today was not the original form of cabbage, rather it was a loose-leaf form. The headed variety was cultivated by northern European farmers, and it was the French navigator Jacques Cartier who brought cabbage to the Americas in 1536.
Cabbage is the main ingredient in your delicious sauerkraut, having been shredded, fermented, and then stored. Cabbage also makes up the bulk of your coleslaw, which also usually contains shredded cabbage, buttermilk, and mayonnaise (these are just the basic ingredients; there are thousands of recipes for coleslaw, and many local and national competitions for the best recipe).
2. OMG the Nutrition!
The one question you need to ask yourself is: Why am I not stuffing my gullet with cabbage every day!?!!?!
Containing a litany of vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals, cabbage is another one of those veggie super foods. Cabbage has more vitamin C that an orange (per serving), provides 61% of your daily vitamin K needs, and includes healthy amounts of vitamin B-5 (panthothenic acid), vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B-1 (thiamin). It is a fantastic source of antioxidants and phyto-chemicals (more about that later), and contains a plethora of minerals, including potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
3. Anti-Cancer, Anti-Cholesterol Superhero
The phyto-chemicals I mentioned above are a huge nutritional factor, and in my opinion, are worth further discussion. Cabbage is a warehouse full of phyto-chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, all of which help protect against various forms of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. Above and beyond that, and you guys out there – listen up! – cabbage is specifically known for reducing the likelihood of prostate cancer by more than 67%! By eating merely two servings a week, you can qualify for that cancer reduction percentage, which is a pretty good deal, if you ask me. Cabbage also reduces your LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels, which turns out to be a wash if you eat like I do, smothering my steamed cabbage in butter.
4. Detox and Brain Power
I know what you’re thinking: How can this super awesome vegetable be any better than it already is? Well, let me tell you, cabbage is also a blood detoxifier and brain booster. Cabbage purifies the blood and removes toxins (primarily free radicals and uric acid which is a major cause for rheumatism, gout, arthritis, renal calculi, skin diseases, eczema, hardening and de-colorization of skin etc.). This detoxifying effect of cabbage is due to the presence of vitamin C and sulphur. Cabbage, being rich in iodine, also helps in the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system, apart from keeping the endocrinal glands in proper condition. Thus, it is good for the brain and treatment of neurotic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Awesome and Interesting Facts!
All righty then, you know that cabbage is super awesome nutritionally, let’s see how fun it can be as well. Cabbage is considered Russia’s national food, and if you have any native Russian friends like I do, get them to cook some traditional Borscht for you; it’s a delicious experience (and includes beets, to boot!). Egyptian pharaohs ate large quantities of cabbage before a night of drinking, as they believed that cabbage consumption would allow them to drink more alcoholic beverages and not feel the effects. This is perhaps why many still consider cabbage with vinegar as a good hangover remedy (I’m not sure about the hangover remedy, but I’m certainly going to give that first part a go on Friday at happy hour – who’s with me?!). There is also fascinating lore regarding the healing powers of cabbage, including the use of sauerkraut by Captain Cook as a compress for wounded soldiers to prevent gangrene.
Bet You Didn’t Know:
Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his hat during games. He would swap it out half way through each game.
Oh, and World Cabbage Day is February 17th. My calendar is already highlighted – I’ll see you at the local Irish pub for some corned beef and cabbage and a pint of Guinness.
Honestly, your best to-do right now would be to sit down and find a way to incorporate cabbage into your diet each week. If you’ve never tried it before, I would suggest “going native” and preparing it through a relatively simple recipe (I’ve included one below), or just shredding some to add to your fish tacos. After you discover its delicious goodness, you can expand your repertoire to thousands of recipes. Purple cabbage is also quite delicious in salads, and very easy to incorporate (dice into small pieces, add on top of your lettuce, profit).
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 medium head cabbage, coarsely shredded
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter; add seasoned salt, cabbage, and onion.
- Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Stir frequently. Blend vinegar and sugar; add to cabbage mixture.
- Stir gently to blend; cook cabbage 5 minutes longer.
What is your favorite cabbage dish? Let us know in the comments below!