Some folks might be surprised to learn that cabbage is not actually in the same category as lettuce, despite their similar appearance.
Cabbage is cousin to kale and broccoli and is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Varying in color from pale green to red and purple, cabbage contains a plentitude of nutrients that can offer health benefits such as protection against cancer, a lowered risk for heart disease, and support for immunity and digestion.
And if cabbage immediately conjures up unpleasant smells and visions of sogginess, you might be relieved to know that you’ve probably been cooking it wrong! Read on to learn the right way to enjoy this power-packed veggie.
So many health benefits
Researchers have identified 20 different flavonoids and 15 different phenols in cabbage, all of which have antioxidant activity in the human body. These plant nutrients protect the cells from damage by reducing inflammation and are even linked to a decreased risk of chronic illness. Cabbage also contains a sulfur-compound called sulforophane which has been shown to have cancer preventive properties.
A study conducted at the University of Missouri looked at another chemical found in cabbage called apigenin. In lab studies, apigenin was found to decrease tumor size when cells from an aggressive form of breast cancer were implanted in mice. However, more research is still required to determine if apigenin has the potential to be used as a non-toxic treatment for cancer in humans. Red-purple cabbage also contains the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin which bolsters protection for red blood cells.
How to pick and prepare your cabbage
Follow these simple tips to make sure you’re picking the best cabbage in the patch at your local store or farmers market. When buying cabbage, select one that is heavy for its size. The leaves should be tightly wrapped, as loose, limp leaves indicate an older cabbage. You can store cabbage in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Cabbage can be eaten raw, or steamed, boiled, roasted, sautéed, or stuffed for side dishes or entrees. (If you smell a sulfurous odor while cooking, then the cabbage is overcooked.) Add shredded cabbage near the end of cooking to soups or stews or stir-fry dishes; add it to fresh green salads or chop and drizzle with herbs and olive oil. Or just check out my easy, delicious, special Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with Red Cabbage.
There are so many kinds of cabbage with so many properties that can help protect your health—so be se sure to include this cruciferous vegetable in your weekly diet.