Considering the nutritional data and antioxidant properties of cabbage, it’s clear that this crunchy and versatile cruciferous vegetable is underrated.

A member of the Brassica genus of cruciferous vegetables, cabbage shares its botanical heritage with power vegetables like kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Like those leafy green cousins, cabbage contains high amounts of antioxidants, which might explain its surprising list of potential health benefits. In addition to being full of inflammation-fighting compounds, cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K, which provide their share of benefits. This rather humble head of greenery is rarely the center of meals and is often used more for its crunchy texture than its flavor. Yet, once you discover its many health benefits, you may want to give it pride of place on your plate.

Here are seven reasons to bite into cabbage.

1. Cabbage helps reduce inflammation

Cabbage’s ability to reduce inflammation is responsible for much of its health potential. Each crunchy leaf is packed with antioxidants, edible substances known to scavenge harmful free radicals. A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that kaempferol, quercetin, and apigenin are the most abundant antioxidants in green cabbage, while cyanidin is most prevalent in red cabbage. These substances can have significant health effects. Kaempferol, for example, has been linked to cancer prevention, and cyanidins have anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity effects, according to research.

Glucosinolates are other useful compounds in cabbage. When these compounds are consumed and absorbed into the tissues, they react with signaling proteins in the cells which produce enzymes, proteins and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protective molecules by the cell. This process helps the body get rid of highly reactive oxygen species and other toxic wastes. This can lead to a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress, which may offer some protection against cardiovascular disease, carcinogens, and metabolic disorders like diabetes.

2. Cabbage may play a role in the fight against cancer

In recent years, the potential of cruciferous vegetables in the fight against cancer has been the subject of much discussion. Cabbage is a crucifer and has a unique matrix of nutrients that fit well into a cancer-fighting diet. For starters, cabbage is rich in vitamin C, with 25 milligrams per cup, making it an excellent source. Research suggests that a diet high in vitamin C may play a role in preventing lung, breast and pancreatic cancers.

And then there are those helpful glucosinolates again. After cutting, chewing or digesting the cabbage, the glucosinolates break down into bioactive compounds with potential anti-inflammatory properties. Research supports this notion. This can contribute to the detoxification of carcinogens. An example: A study of Chinese adults exposed to air pollution found that those who consumed more glucosinolates had lower measurements of toxicants in their urine. Additionally, a study published in April 2018 in The British Journal of Nutrition showed that eating cruciferous vegetables like cabbage was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Another research in Annals of Oncology linked cabbage to a reduced risk of colon cancer.

3. Cabbage may promote recovery from COVID-19

If a bout of COVID-19 has knocked you down, consider soothing cabbage soup part of your recovery toolkit. A study published in August 2020 in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that eating cabbage and fermented vegetables can lessen the effects of severe COVID-19. The study authors theorized that the antioxidant compounds in cabbage could reduce insulin resistance and damage to the lungs and blood vessels, two serious side effects of the virus. Napa cabbage and Taiwanese cabbage are Chou’s best choices for a comforting soup when you’re sick. Both of these varieties are particularly effective in soups and stews when added within the last five minutes of cooking. For the antiviral benefits of cabbage and fermentation, try kimchi as an accompaniment to a bowl of noodles or eggs.

4. Cabbage helps with blood clotting and bone health

Vitamin K may not be the most talked about nutrient, but it’s not without its health benefits. As the National Institutes of Health states, vitamin K is responsible for important functions like blood clotting and bone health. Fortunately, cabbage is an excellent source, with 53 micrograms per cup.

One downside: this vitamin is fat-soluble. Therefore, when preparing cabbage, be sure to include a source of dietary fat to ensure absorption. Many foods you cook with cabbage will naturally contain fat, such as beef and oily fish; Other ways to include fats could be to use oil-based dressings in your coleslaw, and to use a good quality mayonnaise to make the coleslaw.

5. Cabbage is good for digestion

As a good source of fiber, cabbage could minimize digestive ailments like diarrhea and constipation. The vegetable’s insoluble fiber is a particular digestive aid hero because it adds bulk to stool and promotes regular bowel movements. For some people, however, the sulfur compounds in cabbage can cause gas and bloating. You may need to experiment to determine your tolerance level. For a double hit on digestive health, consider adding fermented cabbage (aka kimchi) to meals and snacks. Kimchi contains the bacterium Lactobacillus. These lactic acid bacteria have probiotics with health-promoting properties that can help improve our digestion and support the gut microbiome by creating a diverse mix of healthy microbes in the gut. A study published in November 2021 in Foods found that foods fermented with Lactobacillus could modulate the gut’s response to stress. And a study published in July 2020 in The Journal of Nutrition concluded that fermented foods help overcome gut dysbiosis (the imbalance of gut microbes that can lead to inflammation).

6. Cabbage is rich in vitamin C

You might associate vitamin C with citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, but don’t discount cabbage for a boost, too. In addition to its potential anti-cancer effects, the vitamin C in cabbage offers several benefits for your health, starting with your skin. It may promote a more youthful appearance because it promotes collagen production, as research suggests. And some research has linked higher levels of vitamin C to UV protection and reduced signs of skin aging. C’s selling points don’t stop there! Vitamin C also helps in healing wounds, improving the immune system, reducing the severity of certain periodontal diseases and in the absorption of iron, another important mineral for the body. Iron can come from heme (animal) or non-heme (non-animal) sources, although heme iron is best absorbed. To get the most heme iron and vitamin C, prepare cabbage as a side dish to lamb or other roast red meat.

7. Cabbage Promotes Heart Health

Cardiovascular health and inflammation are inextricably linked. So it’s no surprise that antioxidant-rich cabbage is a heart-healthy food. Some research has shown that the kaempferol and quercetin found in green cabbage and the cyanins in red cabbage may support healthy heart function. Separately, a study published in February 2021 in The British Journal of Nutrition, which followed the diets of older women, found that those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables had less abdominal aortic calcification, which is a risk factor. cardiovascular events. To promote heart health, and many other benefits, grab a cabbage and bite into it!

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.