THE FOOD SERIES: Cabbage

Look at how beautiful cabbage is when you open them up! Just like small little trees.

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DESCRIPTION:

A member of the cruciferous vegetables along with broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale; cabbage is a round plant consisting of multiple, superimposed leaf layers. Most often the outside layer is darker than the layers inside due to the direct exposure to sunlight.

There are many shapes, colours and leaf textures. However, two main colours are found: red and green. Green cabbages vary from very light to very dark in colour, some looking even white. Red cabbage also varies in colour as well, with some (like in the photo) appearing to be a deep purple, that sometimes can look even black. These green and red cabbages are commonly referred to as the smooth-leaf firm-head cabbages.

Another type of cabbage is savoy cabbage which is the variety known for its crinkled-leaf and loose-head types. The leaves are not as dense and are more delicate. This variety also differ in colour from light to dark green with yellow hues to a dark, deep red and purple.

When purchasing cabbage, choose ones that are firm, dense with shiny, crisp and colourful leaves. It is highly recommend to buy whole cabbage that has not been precut, because once it is cut, the amount of vitamin C begins to diminish.


PRODUCTION:

Due to the wide range of varieties, the origin of cabbage can be a little conflicting and difficult to pinpoint. Regardless, wild cabbage (the ancestor of today’s cabbage) was found in Europe over 2000 years ago. Wild cabbage however does not look like the cabbage we have come to known today, since, as the name suggests they are wild and resembles its family members like kale or collards.

Today, China leads the world in cabbage production, followed by India, Russia, South Korea and Ukraine.


NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

1 cup of cabbage, chopped:

22.3 kcal
5.2 g Carbs
2.0 g Fiber
0.1 g Fat
1.1 g Protein
67.6 μg Vitamin K
32.6 g Vitamin C
0.1 mg Vitamin B6
0.1 mg Manganese

Its high source of vitamin C means it provides protection against free radicals, since vitamin C is an antioxidant. One specific antioxidant is polyphenols which tops the list of antioxidants found in cabbage. The amount of polyphenols varies slightly between cabbage varieties, such as between the green and red cabbage. However, regardless of the type, it still is a great antioxidant source and contributes to cancer prevention benefits.

Besides antioxidant benefits, red cabbage in particular also provides anti-inflammatory support as well. This is due to the anthocyanins that are found, allowing us to better deal with oxidative stress and chronic inflammation which are risk factors to the development of cancer.

Cabbage is also strikingly high in vitamin K. This along with its high source of vitamin C is beneficial for cardiovascular support, bone health, brain health, and overall detoxification of the body.

One interesting fact about cabbage is that it has been known to aid in stomach ulcers and other intestinal issues. Much research has been conducted on this topic and it has been found that cabbage contains a variety of nutrients that can provide potential benefits to our stomach and intestinal linings. Specifically, these nutrients include glucoinolates, polyphenols and glutamine. Without getting too deep into these nutrients, an example of its benefit is that it provides proper regulation of bacterial populations found in our stomach. Besides these many beneficial nutrients, fiber also provides support to the health of our digestive system. To put into perspective, cabbage provides 1 gram of fiber for every 10 calories, making cabbage a very fiber dense food! And, we all know how important fiber is to our health.


WAYS TO ENJOY

Besides adding it to my salads, I love making and eating sauerkraut! Such a great way to get in those B vitamins and probiotics from the fermented cabbage. The following are some additional recipes that incorporate the lovely cabbage!


FUN FACTS

  • Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables.
  • 90% of cabbage is made of water.
  • “Chinese cabbage” most often is not referred to the same cabbage species. Instead they usually belong to the same genus as bok choy and turnips.
  • There are at least a hundred varieties of cabbage grown throughout the world.
  • Drinking cabbage juice has been known for aiding stomach and intestinal ulcers.
  • Cabbage has also been used externally in treatment of wounds that heal slowly.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

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