While green cabbage may qualify as a popular and commonly eaten vegetable; it is the brightly colored cousin red cabbage which steals the limelight for its cancer preventing and cholesterol lowering abilities. Researchers agree that the broad plethora of nutrients offered by red cabbage along with its appealing looks and hearty taste makes it a must have vegetable.
• The purple or red colored leaves clearly indicate the inherent antioxidant and powerful anti inflammatory properties of red cabbage. More than 36 anthocyanins have been identified in red cabbage which contributes towards protection against cancer, heart ailments and various degenerative diseases.
• When it comes to cancer prevention, certain healthful compounds called glucosinates are considered especially beneficial. Red cabbage contains different kinds of glucosinates- sinigrin and glucoraphanin being the main glucosiantes identified in red cabbage. These polyphenolic compounds exhibit free radical scavenging properties and unique colon, breast, prostate and colon cancer protecting attributes. Steamed, lightly sautéed and raw cabbage demonstrate much more cancer preventive abilities than cabbage that has been cooked on high temperatures for longer duration. Hence it is advisable to include these healthful bunches of leaves in raw form and as steamed or lightly tossed dish. Dressing the sturdy red cabbage leaves with fresh lime juice, cider vinegar or red wine not only perks up the taste quotient but also helps to preserve the rich red color and nutritional benefits.
• Being low in calories and rich in dietary fibre, raw cabbage is a favorite vegetable for dieters and diabetics. The fiber adds bulk to the diet and helps to improve satiety. It also aids in flushing out excess cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels. Include them in salads, vegetable stir frys or soups along with other fresh vegetables.
• Eating red cabbage is considered beneficial for digestive tract as it helps to improve enzyme activity and stimulates detoxification and better absorption of nutrients. Drinking cabbage juice to heal stomach inflammation, acidity and ulcers has been long established. The combination of glucosinates, another compound called glutamine and rich fiber content in red cabbage ensures better digestive health and lowers risk to intestinal and stomach related problems.
• The vitamin C content of red cabbage is whopping six to eight times more than the green cabbage. Besides an impressive amount of immunity boosting vitamin C; red cabbage is also a good source of vitamin K, Vitamin A and folates. One cup of raw red cabbage contains approx 1000 IU of vitamin A, 50 mg of vitamin C and 35 microgram of vitamin K. This is enough to take care of most of our daily requirement for these vitamins. Since the vitamin C content starts deteriorating once cut, it would be best to avoid buying cut cabbage or storing red cabbage in grated or cut form for more than a day.
• Potassium and manganese are the two most prevalent minerals in red cabbage. They are essential for regulating heart beat, maintaining blood pressure and building muscles. Consuming cruciferous vegetables including cabbages are sometimes perceived to interfere with thyroid gland functions. Latest studies, however negate this popular notion and asks all healthy individuals to include this nutritionally sound vegetable regularly in diet.
Written by Panchali Moitra, originally published in B Positive Magazine.