THE MAGIC OF THE HUMBLE CABBAGE
Did you know that the inexpensive, humble and widely used cabbage can practically work miracles?
Cabbage has the highest amount of some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables – phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Research has shown these compounds help to protect against several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. They also help lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol” levels in blood, which can build up in arteries and cause heart disease.
NOTE: Cabbage can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in cabbage do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw cabbage still has cholesterol-lowering ability, just not as much as steamed cabbage.
Rich in vitamin K; viz bone and brain health:
cabbage provides 85 percent of the body’s daily requirement. This is very important, not only for bone metabolism, but as a known Alzheimer’s disease preventative by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.The presence of Vitamin K and anthocyanins within cabbage can give a strong boost to mental function and concentration. These are primarily found in red cabbage, and vitamin K has been well-researched, although it is often called the “forgotten vitamin”. Vitamin K is essential in the production of sphingolipids, the myelin sheath around around nerves. This wrapping is what protects nerves from damage and decay. Therefore, consuming vitamin K can improve your defense against neural degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Cabbage juice is one of the most healing nutrients for ulcer repair as it is a huge source of vitamin U (which is actually not a vitamin but an enzyme known as S methylmethionine). Research shows that vitamin U, administered as raw cabbage juice, is effective in promoting the rapid healing of peptic ulcers.
Cabbage juice is also one of the strongest stimulants for your body to produce acid. This is a good thing, as many people have low stomach acid, which is the cause of their digestive problems, and will significantly increase the risk of infection. Having a few teaspoons of cabbage juice before eating, or better yet, fermented cabbage juice from sauerkraut, will do wonders to improve your digestion. Other compounds in cabbage that also have the potential to benefit your stomach and intestinal linings include glucosinolates, anti-inflammatory isothiocyanates, antioxidant polyphenols, and the amino acid-like substance called glutamin.
CABBAGE AND CANCER HEALING PROPERTIES:
The George Mateljan Foundation recently highlighted some of the latest news about cabbage and topping the list was its potential for cancer prevention. Nearly 500 studies have looked into this connection and revealed that cabbage’s anti-cancer powers are likely related to:
Cabbage contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Sulforaphane, also selectively targets cancer stem cells, and by doing so it effectively prevents the cancer from spreading and/or recurring. Antioxidants also help protect your body from oxidative stress. The George Mateljan Foundation noted that; “Without sufficient intake of antioxidants, our oxygen metabolism can become compromised, and we can experience a metabolic problem called oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress in and of itself can be a risk factor for development of cancer.”
You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy, however it’s also possible, and increasingly common, for the inflammatory response to get out of hand. If your immune system mistakenly triggers an inflammatory response when no threat is present, it can lead to significant inflammation-related damage to the body, a condition linked to cancer and other diseases, depending on which organs the inflammation is impacting. Cabbage contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check. Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that’s particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
Glucosinolates are phytochemicals that break down into indoles, sulforaphane and other cancer-preventive substances. Indole-3-carbinol, for example, halts the cell cycle in breast cancer cells without actually killing the cells.3 The cell cycle is a rigidly controlled series of steps a cell must go through before it can divide in two, involving the duplication of the cell’s contents and a final split. If you can alter specific components of the cell cycle, you can stop the growth of cancer cells without killing normal cells. Indole-3-carbinol interferes with the cell cycle in a way that turns off a gene for an enzyme important in the cell’s growth cycle. Interestingly, different types of cabbage (red, green and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates, which suggests you should try to eat a variety of cabbage for the best health effects. The George Mateljan Foundation expanded that; “ … glucosinolates are cabbage’s trump card with regard to “anti-cancer” benefits. The glucosinolates found in cabbage can be converted into isothiocyanate compounds that are cancer preventive for a variety of different cancers, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.”
Cabbage is a rich source of beta-carotene, so many people, particularly as they get older, turn to cabbage for its ability to prevent macular degeneration and generally promote good eye health and the delay of cataract formation. Beta-carotene has also been positively linked to reduced chances of prostate cancer, which is an extra bonus on top of the other anti-carcinogenic effects of cabbage!
Weight Loss: Cabbage is frequently recommended for people who want to lose weight in a healthy way. Since cabbage is packed with so many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, it is a healthy dietary option for people to eat a lot of, and it is quite filling, since it has high levels of fiber, which add bulk to the bowels. However, cabbage is extremely low in calories, only 33 calories in a cup of cooked cabbage. Therefore, people can go on the popular “cabbage soup” diet, and eat plenty of food to stay healthy, without gaining excess weight!
Detoxification by cabbage:
Cabbage acts as a good detoxifier too, meaning that it purifies the blood and removes toxins, primarily free radicals and uric acid which are primary causes of rheumatism, gout, arthritis, renal calculi, skin diseases, and eczema. This detoxifying effect of cabbage is due to the high content of vitamin C and sulphur in cabbage.
Other benefits of Cabbage:
Cabbage, being rich in iodine, helps in proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system, along with keeping the glands of the endocrine system in proper condition. It is good for the brain and is useful in the treatment of neural disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The various other nutrients present in cabbage, such as vitamin-E, keep the skin, eyes and hair healthy. The calcium, magnesium, and potassium found in cabbage is very useful for a wide range of healh benefits. Cabbage can also be used for the treatment of varicose veins, leg ulcers, peptic and duodenal ulcers.
Since isothiocyanates – one category of thiocyanates – are commonly made in the body from other phytonutrients (called glucosinolates) that are especially concentrated in cruciferous vegetables, some people have wondered whether daily intake of cruciferous vegetables can increase their risk of thyroid problems. The answer here is no; there is no research to show that daily intake of cruciferous vegetables in ordinary dietary amounts poses any unwanted risk to the thyroid. In fact, there are many well-documented health benefits from daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including decreased risk of colorectal cancer.For the vast majority of individuals, foods containing potentially goitrogenic substances like thiocyanates and isoflavones pose no documented health risk to the thyroid and can be included on a daily basis in a balanced diet. Most of us can simply enjoy the delicious taste of these foods and the amazing variety of nutrients they provide. For individuals with known dietary deficiency of iodine or selenium or both, especially when combined with previously diagnosed thyroid problems, intake of soy foods (high in isoflavones) and cruciferous vegetables (high in glucosinolates that can be converted into thiocyanates) may need to be discussed with a healthcare practitioner.
Reactions: Note that cabbage has quite an amount of vitamin k which counteracts the effects of warfarin. So if you’re on warfarin or any blood thinner its best you steer clear of cabbage.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
1.) Braise red cabbage with a chopped apple and red wine. This is a child-friendly dish since the alcohol (but not the flavor or the flavonoids) will evaporate.
2.) Combine shredded red and green cabbage with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to make coleslaw with an Indian twist.
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The author Prince
Hi, I’m Prince.. a registered Dietitian, an avid reader and a passionate writer. I hope you enjoy my articles as much as I enjoy writing them