9 surprising health benefits of cabbage

health benefits of cabbageDid you ever notice, how when you cut a cabbage in half along its core, you often see the thick white stem in the center and the white arms radiating outward like a crab?

I find this very symbolic. I’ll tell you why. We all know the crab can move in any direction. And so can cancer, the dreaded disease which this humble cruciferous vegetable is reported to help fight against.


But before we jump onto the debate of whether cabbage can or cannot fight cancer, let us discuss what we know for sure are its health benefits…

The humble cabbage comes with a myriad of nutrients which your body needs: Calcium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, sulphur, and magnesium. It is also a rich source of fiber. There are many types of cabbage, the most common being the red and green ones we see in the supermarket. The good thing is all of them deliver many health benefits.

Cabbage and healthy digestion

As cabbage is very rich in fiber, it helps the body retain water and it maintains the bulkiness of the food as it moves through the bowels. Thus, it is great help against constipation and other digestion-related problems.

Deficiency of fiber (roughage) can result in constipation, which is the root cause of many other ailments and health hazards, such as stomach ulcers, headaches, gastrointestinal cancers, indigestion and a subsequent loss of appetite. A lack of roughage can also lead to skin problems like eczema, premature aging and other seemingly non-related conditions.

Cabbage and eye health

Cabbage is a rich source of beta-carotene. But it must be noted here that red cabbage has almost 10 times the beta-carotene content of green cabbage. Beta-carotene gets converted into vitamin A in your body.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin A play an important role in boosting vision, especially night vision. Vitamin A also helps protect the eye tissue against free radical damage. No wonder there are so many articles on eye health associated with cabbage, and why many eye doctors recommend you eat more of this vegetable to prevent against age-related eye problems.

Cabbage boosts brain health

As it is rich in iodine, cabbage helps in proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system. The iodine also plays a role in maintaining the health of the endocrine system. Cabbage is also full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help support mental function and concentration.

Vitamin K is essential in the production of sphingolipids, the specialized lipids that form the myelin sheath around nerves. This wrapping is what protects nerves from damage and decay. So consuming vitamin K can improve your defense against problems caused by nerve degeneration. Even the vitamin C in cabbage helps fight against free radicals, regulate the proper functioning of the nervous system.

And just in case people might overlook incredible brain health benefits that cabbage delivers, nature adds its bit by making cabbage resemble a human brain.

cabbage and bone health

Cabbage and bone health

Like all other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage is rich in calcium. While there has been a lot of debate over whether calcium supplements are good for bones in elderly people, there is no doubt that dietary calcium is very important for bone health.

Cabbage is also rich in magnesium and potassium. Together these three essential minerals are integral in the protection of bones from degradation and the onset of age-related bone conditions like osteoporosis and general bone weakening.

The Cabbage Soup Diet and weight loss

The cabbage soup diet originated around 1950. No one knows who started the cabbage soup diet, but it seems to be the oldest diet fad that’s still in use. During World War 1, American soldiers in France ate this soup (as there was a dearth of fresh vegetables) to protect themselves against scurvy – the dreaded disease caused by vitamin C deficiency.

After the war this diet became popular with celebrities, stewardesses, and models. And it took on various names – Model’s diet, Stewardess’s diet, and so on. But whatever the name, one thing is for sure, eating this soup along with the cabbage diet soup plan, is a healthy way to shed those pounds.

Cabbage’s role in skin care and premature aging

Living as we do, in an environment loaded with toxins, our skin gets severely destroyed by free radical damage leading to signs of premature aging like spots, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity. The antioxidants in cabbage can cause a turnaround in your aging processes, leaving you feeling and looking healthy and young!

In addition to the regular antioxidants, cabbage also contains “indole-3-carbonile,” a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in detoxifying your liver. It’s the organ responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood, making a cleansed liver beneficial for the skin as well, because it removes the toxins that cause dull and blemished skin.

The vitamin C  and vitamin A in cabbage not only fight the free radical damage that leads to wrinkles and sagging skin, they are essential to help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.

Cabbage helps maintain healthy blood pressure

The potassium content in cabbage makes it a good friend of your heart. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means it opens up the arteries and veins and facilitates easy flow of blood. Thanks to potassium, your blood is not forced in a stress-inducing way through constricted arteries and veins.

This simple expansion of arteries helps protect against high blood pressure and also decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Because of its ability to open up blood vessels, cabbage will also help prevent varicose veins and leg ulcers.

Muscle and joint aches

Two of the healthiest ways to eat cabbage: Uncooked or steamed/boiled. In the East, they consume a lot of kimchi, and in Germany sauerkraut is almost as common as French fries are in America. In both kimchi and sauerkraut, the cabbage is fermented. During the process of fermentation, the bacteria ferment the sugars in cabbage and release lactic acid. Lactic acid plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle health and helping to reduce muscle soreness and aches.

The leaves of the cabbage accumulate a buildup of cadmium-binding complexes. An important component of these complexes is glutamine, a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acid found in our muscles and bones. If there is a lack of glutamine, your body will start eating up its own muscle, leading to muscle loss. That’s why eating cabbage is good for muscles and bones.

cabbage for cancer cureCabbage for cancer cure?

In addition to all its antioxidant properties, cabbage also has a number of anti-cancer compounds, like lupeol, sinigrin, and sulforaphane. Research in these compounds has shown that they stimulate enzyme activity and inhibit carcinogenic growth. One study performed primarily on Chinese women showed a significant reduction in breast cancer when cruciferous vegetables like cabbage were regularly added to their diet.

While there is a lot of debate over cabbage for cancer treatment and cancer prevention, the important thing to understand is that consuming cabbage has no harsh side effects.

All said and done, this under-hyped vegetable could be a miraculous addition to your diet. Don’t be afraid to add cabbage to your daily diet.


But remember, cooking kills most of the nutrients, especially the vitamin C. So if you want to fully enjoy the health benefits of this bountiful vegetable, go raw. Or better still, go with fermented cabbage.

The good news with eating cabbage is that there is no restriction on how much you consume. So eat as much cabbage as you want, accumulate the antioxidants, like you would accumulate money in a bank and use them to become health-rich. After all, health, is wealth!

Related: What to eat: Broccoli vs. cauliflower


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