Digestive Health, Gut Health, Immunity, Inflammation, Nutrition

The Unbelievable Benefits of Red Cabbage

I’m just going to come out and say it…I love summer.

Truth is I love all the seasons, but summer is awesome because it’s the time of year when farms are bringing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to the table, and I get to enjoy them knowing they’re as fresh as can be.

One of my favorite vegetables to enjoy is red cabbage. It’s perfect cut up in salads, topped on burgers, mixed up in healthy slaws, and is great for making sauerkraut.

And while red cabbage might not be on everyone’s list of top vegetables to enjoy, I think I can make a pretty convincing argument why everyone should at least try to eat it once or twice a week.

Keep in mind I’m talking about red cabbage here – not green cabbage.

There’s no doubt green cabbage is good for you, but red cabbage is far superior in terms of the health boosting compounds found inside.

Check them out below.

3 Incredible Things You Didn’t Know Red Cabbage Could Do

1 – It Can Help With Gut Health:

There are a few distinct ways cabbage can help with your gut healthI’ll just list them in order from the easiest to a tried and true method requiring a tad more work.

The first reason (as you can easily guess) is red cabbage is a great source of fiber.

If you’re ever looking to maximize your fiber intake, I recommend red cabbage over just about anything.

A 150 gram serving of this vegetable is going to contain almost 4 grams of dietary fiber. The inclusion of ample amounts of this nutrient allows your body to quickly and smoothly digest food. Without it, the digestive process can get backed up, thus damaging the sensitive lining of your intestinal tract and causing you to become constipated.

Here’s something interesting about red cabbage’s fiber content (unrelated to digestion) you should know…

When red cabbage is steamed, the fiber-related components in the vegetable bind to bile acids in your intestinal tract with greater ease.

This allows for these bile acids to be excreted more easily. This act has also been linked to the lowering of cholesterol levels.

Red cabbage’s bountiful supply of fiber isn’t the only thing it’s got going for it either when it comes to intestinal tract health.

Red cabbage (as well as green cabbage) is a traditional component in fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. By bruising the cabbage, sprinkling it with salt and then placing it in a sealed, covered and warm environment, the red cabbage will undergo a fermentation cycle that later produces healthy bacteria as a byproduct of being broken down.

The healthy bacteria, also known as probiotics, have been shown in numerous studies to help improve digestion, repair damaged gut linings, help manage weight, provide relief to constipation, help boost the body’s antioxidant activity, and much more. 

2 – It Can Help Boost Immune Health:

One of the reasons red cabbage is preferred over green cabbage is its deep, rich color reflects hidden health properties green cabbage doesn’t have.

The red color indicates the presence of plant-based polyphenols, which are capable of boosting immune health.

One of the polyphenols red cabbage is richest in is vitamin C (a known antioxidant and the vitamin most commonly associated with immune heath). Red cabbage has way more vitamin C then green cabbage – 6 to 8 times the amount, even.

That deep red color also indicates it has powerful polyphenols known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the molecular compounds responsible for the red, purple, and blueish pigmentation in red cabbage, and we’ve got plenty of evidence to support their health boosting properties.

A recent study showed that a 100 gram (about 3 oz.) serving of raw red cabbage delivers 196.5 mg of polyphenols (28.3 mg of which are anthocyanins). Green cabbage, on the other hand, only contained 0.01 mg of anthocyanins.

Considering anthocyanincs in red cabbage have been implicated as being beneficial for “protection against liver injuries; maintain blood pressure; improvement of eyesight; strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities; inhibition of mutations caused by mutagens from cooked food; and suppression of proliferation of human cancer cells,” you can see why you’d want to eat more red cabbage.

3 – It Can Help Fight Inflammation:

If I had to pick one of the biggest health issues you should concern yourself with, I think I’d pick inflammation.

There’s quite a bit of published research showing inflammation is responsible for health issues like age-related memory loss, decreased immunity, blood sugar fluctuations, achy joints, and many others.

And while eating red cabbage isn’t going to cure you of any of these conditions, knowing it contains anti-inflammatory compounds is enough reason to eat it as much as possible.

The anthocyanins I mentioned earlier are the same anti-inflammatory antioxidants found inside of cabbage. Because red cabbage is so high in anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, it helps the body resist oxidative stress (which leads to inflammation).

Anthocyanins, along with other antioxidants, help to improve the metabolization of oxygen.

If your body ever lacks antioxidants, and your ability to metabolize oxygen is compromised, this can result in the development of chronic oxidative stress (which can lead to many of the conditions I mentioned above).

Another antioxidant red cabbage has loads of is sinigrin.

Sinigrin is a type of glucosinolate, which is an antioxidant that has known anti-cancer properties. The way these work is actually pretty cool; they block the formation of endogenous and exogenous carcinogens, and can actually help stop cancer from ever forming in the first place.

Eating red cabbage is more than just performing your due diligence and eating your vegetables – it’s actually a proactive step to reducing your risk of developing some very problematic conditions.

Read This Before Eating Red Cabbage!

Now that you know about the extensive health benefits of red cabbage, you should become aware of a few things regarding its consumption.

The first thing to know is how red cabbage is prepared has a great deal to do with the maximum health benefits it can provide.

For example, while you frequently hear vegetables should be consumed raw, this isn’t necessarily the case with cabbage. Consuming red cabbage raw can be problematic for some people, since its fibrous compounds can be hard to digest.

On top of that, its fiber more easily attaches to bile acids when cooked. As you learned, this method can also help improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol.

It’s been shown one of the best ways to eat red cabbage is after a light sauté. This helps to make it easier to eat, and still helps it to taste good and deliver the satisfying crisp it’s known for.

Another note is on making sauerkraut:

This is an instance where eating it “raw” won’t prove challenging to people with a sensitive digestive tract, as the fermentation of the red cabbage makes it much, much easier to eat.

I know a lot of people who make sauerkraut. It’s really easy to make and tastes delicious.

Here’s a simple video showing you how you can turn red cabbage into an amazing batch of sauerkraut.

Talk soon,

Dr. Wiggy