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Why Cabbage?

In terms of price per serving, a report by the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown cabbage to be the second most economical cooked vegetable in terms of price per edible cup. Only potatoes came out slightly less expensive. The relatively low economic cost of cabbage in comparison with most other vegetables makes this cruciferous vegetable a nutritional bargain!

In a recent study of over 57,000 adults in Denmark, cabbage was found to be significantly beneficial for prevention of type 2 diabetes.

The Healthy Nordik Food Index study followed adults consuming a diet chiefly made up of (1) fish, (2) rye bread, (3) oatmeal, (4) apples and pears, (5) root vegetables, and (6) cabbage. Their incidence of type 2 diabetes was markedly decreased compared to those not consuming the above categories of foods.

Researchers have now identified nearly 35 different flavonoids and phenols in cabbage, all of which have demonstrated antioxidant activity. This impressive list of antioxidant phytonutrients in cabbage is one key reason why an increasing number of studies link cabbage intake to decreased risk of several cardiovascular diseases.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of cabbage grown worldwide. But of special interest in recent research studies have been cabbage varieties that fall into the red-purple category. It is the anthocyanin antioxidants (and in particular, a subcategory of anthocyanins called cyanidins) that have been the focus of these research studies. Impressively, the anthocyanins in red cabbage are a major factor in the ability of this cruciferous vegetable to provide cardiovascular protection, including protection of red blood cells. Blood levels of beta-carotene, lutein, and total blood antioxidant capacity have been found to improve along with red cabbage intake, while oxidized LDL has been found to decrease. This reduction in oxidized LDL is a good thing, since LDL—an abbreviation which stands for low-density lipoprotein—becomes a risk factor for blood vessel problems if excessively present in its oxidized form.

Cabbage is an excellent source of sinigrin by a significant margin in comparison to other vegetables. This is a glucosinolate compound that is found in many cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower. When these vegetables are chopped, chewed or otherwise broken down, sinigrin is converted to a compound called allyl isothiocyanate. These substances have received special attention with respect to their anti-cancer properties as well as additional health benefits. Red cabbage can contain up to 40 times more sinigrin than green cabbage.

Two additional compounds compounds found in cabbage are indole-3-carbinol (I3C, an isothiocyanate) and diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM can only be produced in the stomach from I3C if the gastric juices are sufficiently acidic. Consider apple cider vinegar pre-meal if this is a problem. Like AITC and I3C, DIM has been shown to have cancer-preventive properties in bladder, colon and prostate cancer. The studies on other types of cancer and DIM continue.

In reference to the above Nordik study, this 2020 systematic review comments:

“Despite the undeniable effect of pharmacological treatment on the management of blood pressure and blood lipid, as the main risk factors of CVD, adherence to a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating habits may be more effective with fewer side effects than that of medication.

In Ireland Rapeseed (Brassica napus subsp. napus), also known as rape, or oilseed rape, is a bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family), cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed. Whilst I do not recommend consuming seed oils frequently, the flowers and leaves of this brassica are a great source of the health-giving polyphenols and other minerals such as manganese and boron. Best of all, it grows freely in Ireland and the UK from late spring for a number of months.

'An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and perhaps a serving of broccoli or watercress can help keep cancer at bay. A compound and an enzyme that occur naturally in cruciferous vegetables--cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts--may help prevent recurrence and spread of some cancers, according to researchers' (1).

So, to recap; why cabbage?

It is cheap, medicinal, low calorie, fibre-rich, easy to cook and preserve and there are many varieties to choose from. Add cabbage regularly to your nutritional journey. There are many great online recipes. Remember to always cook brassicas if you have a thyroid issue to reduce goitrogens. And finally, they are easy to ferment as sauerkraut so can be preserved for a long time.

Tesco have a simple and tasty green cabbage recipe which can be found here:



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