Cabbage is Good for You

We have been eating a lot of cabbage lately and really enjoying it. I know it’s low-calorie, but does it offer many nutrients?

Absolutely! You may be confusing cabbage with iceberg lettuce, which really doesn’t offer much in the nutrient department. But cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable — in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, rutabagas and turnips. All are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other healthful attributes.

For example, a cup of raw, chopped cabbage (about 3 ounces) offers:

Two grams of fiber, almost 10 percent of fiber’s Daily Value. (The “Daily Value” is the amount, on average, that adults should try to get each day.)

Over 30 milligrams of vitamin C, more than half the Daily Value.

Nearly 40 micrograms of folate, about 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Nearly 70 micrograms of vitamin K, about 85 percent of the Daily Value. (That’s especially important to know for people who need to monitor their vitamin K intake, such as those on a blood thinner. Sudden increases or decreases in vitamin K consumption can affect the medication.)

In addition, that cup of raw cabbage also contains some manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, iron and vitamin A — all that for a mere 22 calories, barely a trace of fat, and 5 grams of carbohydrates.

For example, a 2004 study by Britain’s Institute of Food Research published in the journal Carcinogenesis identified a beneficial chemical that’s created when cabbage and similar vegetables are chopped, chewed, cooked, processed and digested — the chemical appears to inhibit the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the colon.

In another study, published in 2000 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that men who consumed 28 servings of vegetables per week had a 35-percent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer than those who consumed 14 or fewer servings — yet men who had just three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a 41-percent decrease in their risk, compared with men who had only one serving per week or less.

An Ohio State University Extension fact sheet, “Selecting, Storing and Serving Ohio Cabbage,” suggests storing cabbage properly (32 degrees at high humidity) and cooking quickly in a small amount of water to retain the most nutrients. See the fact sheet online for more information and suggestions.