Cabbage

Cabbage or headed cabbage (comprising several groups of cultivars of Brassica oleracea) is a leafy green or purple biennial plant, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads. Closely related to other cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, it descends from B. oleracea var. oleracea, a wild field cabbage. Cabbage heads generally range from 0.5 to 4 kilograms (1 to 9 lb), and can be green, purple and white. Smooth-leafed firm-headed green cabbages are the most common, with smooth-leafed red and crinkle-leafed savoy cabbages of both colors seen more rarely. It is a multi-layered vegetable. Under conditions of long sunlit days such as are found at high northern latitudes in summer, cabbages can grow much larger. Some records are discussed at the end of the history section.

It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC, although savoys were not developed until the 16th century. By the Middle Ages, it had become a prominent part of European cuisine. 1) Cabbage heads are generally picked during the first year of the plant’s life cycle, but plants intended for seed are allowed to grow a second year, and must be kept separated from other cole crops to prevent cross-pollination. 2) Cabbage is prone to several nutrient deficiencies, as well as to multiple pests, and bacterial and fungal diseases.

Cabbage has a round shape and is composed of superimposed leaf layers. It is a member of the food family traditionally known as cruciferous vegetables and is related to kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. All cruciferous vegetables provide integrated nourishment across a wide variety of nutritional categories and provide broad support across a wide variety of body systems as well.

The word “brassica” translates in Latin as “cabbage,” and this word is being used more and more by researchers to refer to the entire group of cruciferous vegetables. You’ll find many plant scientists now using the Latin word Brassicaceae and the phrase ” brassica vegetables” instead of Latin word Cruciferae and the traditional phrase “cruciferous vegetables” when referring to cabbage, kale, broccoli, collards and other foods in this vegetable subgroup.

Because cabbage’s inner leaves are protected from the sunlight by the surrounding leaves, they are oftentimes lighter in color. There are three major types of cabbage: green, red, and Savoy. The color of green cabbage ranges from pale to dark green. Both green and red cabbage have smooth-textured leaves. Red cabbage has leaves that are either crimson or purple with white veins running through it. The leaves of Savoy cabbage are more ruffled and yellowish-green in color. Red and green cabbage have a more defined taste and crunchy texture as compared to Savoy cabbage’s more delicate nature. Bok choy as well as Chinese (Napa) cabbage are other varieties of cabbage available. Bok choy has a mild flavor and a higher concentration of vitamin A. Chinese cabbage, with its pale green ruffled leaves, is great to use in salads. Red cabbage contains additional health benefits not found in green cabbage.

Cardiovascular Support (Cabbage)

You can count on cabbage to provide your cardiovascular system with valuable support in the form of cholesterol reduction. Researchers understand exactly how this process takes place. Your liver uses cholesterol as a basic building block to produce bile acids. Bile acids are specialized molecules that aid in the digestion and absorption of fat through a process called emulsification.

These molecules are typically stored in fluid form in your gall bladder, and when you eat a fat-containing meal, they get released into the intestine where they help ready the fat for interaction with enzymes and eventual absorption up into the body. When you eat cabbage, fiber-related nutrients in this cruciferous vegetable bind together with some of the bile acids in the intestine in such a way that they simply stay inside the intestine and pass out of your body in a bowel movement, rather than getting absorbed along with the fat they have emulsified.

When this happens, your liver needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing upon your existing supply of cholesterol, and as a result, your cholesterol level drops down.

Cabbage provides you with this cholesterol-lowering benefit whether it is raw or cooked.

The same potent anthocyanins in red cabbage that help protect against cancer have been shown to suppress inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease. A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associated the intake of flavonoid-rich foods with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stated that even small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial. The high polyphenol content in cabbage may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet buildup and reducing blood pressure.

The presence of potassium in cabbage also makes it a wonderful way to protect yourself from elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means that it opens up the blood vessels and eases the flow of blood, so it isn’t being forced in a stress-inducing way through constricted arteries and veins. Overall, cabbage is a great shield against many types of dangerous conditions.

Cancer Prevention

Given the roles of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation as risk factors for cancer, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory richness of cabbage would provide anti-cancer health benefits without the addition of cabbage’s glucosinolates. But glucosinolates are cabbage’s trump card with regard to “anti-cancer” benefits. The glucosinolates found in cabbage can be converted into isothiocyanate compounds that are cancer preventive for a variety of different cancers, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. Different types of cabbage highlight different glucosinolates, as summarized in the chart below:

Another cancer-fighting compound found in cabbage is sulforaphane. Research over the past 30 years has consistently shown that consuming cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of cancer. More recently, researchers have been able to pinpoint that the sulfur-containing compounds (namely sulforaphane) that give cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite are also what give them their cancer-fighting power.

More studies with sulforaphane are testing its ability to delay or impede cancer. Promising results have been seen with multiple types of cancers including melanoma, esophageal, prostate and pancreatic. Researchers have discovered that sulforaphane has the power to inhibit the harmful enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC). Known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells.

The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make sulforaphane-containing foods a potentially powerful part of cancer treatment.

Another natural chemical found in cabbage, parsley, celery and other plants known as apigenin has been found to decrease tumor size in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Researchers claim that their findings show that apigenin has potential to be used as a non-toxic treatment for cancer in the future.

Red cabbage contains the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, the same compound that gives other red and purple-hued fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. Anthocyanins have been shown to slow cancer cell proliferation. Kill already formed cancer cells and stop the formation of new tumor growths.

One of their most important celebrated benefits to health is their powerful antioxidant quality. This means that cabbage and other similar vegetables scavenge free radicals from around the body. Which can be very detrimental to overall health and are major contributors to things like cancer and heart disease.

Skin and Hair

Sulfur is considered as ‘Nature’s beauty mineral’. Because of its drying effect, it plays an important role in drying acne and breakouts. Moreover, it is vital for the synthesis of keratin. A protein substance that is essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. It also helps in cleansing your blood and removing bacteria and toxins from your body.

Cabbage has a wealth of different antioxidant sources, including vitamin-C. Anthocyanins, sulphur, and other smaller sources, since it is a cruciferous vegetable. Antioxidants play a major role in skin health and the general toning. And improvement of the body in response to the aging process. Free radicals can be an underlying cause of wrinkles, skin discoloration, spots, and many other conditions. Therefore, the antioxidants you gain by eating cabbage can cause a turn-around in your aging processes. Leaving you feeling and looking healthy and young!

Being loaded with nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, sulfur, iron and magnesium, cabbage is equally beneficial for your hair.

Just like other green vegetables, cabbage has a high content of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that stimulates hair growth. Applying a mixture of boiled *cabbage and freshly squeezed lemon juice on scalp can facilitate hair growth. Mash ½ cup boiled *cabbage and 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice in a blender to form a thick paste. Massage this mixture on your scalp, leave it for 30 minutes and then shampoo and condition your hair as usual. This can be done twice a week.

Anti-Inflammatory

Cabbage is known to accumulate a build-up of cadmium-binding complexes in its leaves. And one of the main components of that is glutamine. Glutamine is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. So consuming *cabbage can reduce the effects of many type of inflammation, irritation, allergies, joint pain, fever, and various skin disorders.

Without sufficient intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Regulation of our inflammatory system can become compromised, and we can experience the problem of chronic inflammation. Especially when combined together with oxidative stress, chronic inflammation is a risk factor for development of cancer.

The anthocyanins found in red *cabbage are well-documented anti-inflammatory compounds. And make red *cabbage a standout anti-inflammatory food for this reason. However, all types of *cabbage contain significant amounts of polyphenols that provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Weight Loss

It is considered to be the best dish for those who constantly watch their weight. An entire cup of cooked cabbage contains merely 33 calories. Thus, a diet of *cabbage soup would mean endless bowls with absolutely no weight gain.
Cabbage is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and is a good source of fiber. Try adding *cabbage into a mixed green salad. It will help fill you up, keep you regular, and fits into the zero-calorie group.

Cabbage - value

Digestion

Long-established in health research is the role of *cabbage juice in helping heal stomach ulcers (called peptic ulcers). But more recent studies on *cabbage have looked at the overall health benefits of this food for the stomach and digestive tract as a whole. Present-day studies make it clear that *cabbage contains a variety of nutrients of potential benefit to our stomach and intestinal linings. These nutrients include glucosinolates (and the anti-inflammatory isothiocyanates or ITCs made from them). Antioxidant polyphenols, and the amino acid-like substance called glutamine. In the case of ITCs, digestive tract benefits include proper regulation of bacterial populations of Helicobacter pylori inside the stomach. These bacteria are normal stomach inhabitants. But their populations can become too large and they can latch onto the stomach lining in an undesirable way. The ITCs made from *cabbage’s glucosinolates can lower the risk of these unwanted stomach events.

A popular way to consume *cabbage is in a fermented form such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Chocked full of probiotics, fermented foods are one of the best things you can consume for your immune and digestive systems. Healthy microbes generate an acidic environment to preserve and develop flavor and enzymes in fermentation that make vitamins and minerals easier to absorb.

The fiber and water content in *cabbage also helps to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Eating adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion toxins through the bile and stool.

Detoxification

Cabbage acts as a good detoxifier too, meaning that it purifies the blood and removes toxins. Primarily free radicals and uric acid which are primary causes of rheumatism, gout, arthritis, renal calculi, skin diseases, and eczema. This detoxifying effect of *cabbage is due to the high content of vitamin C and sulphur in *cabbage.