Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable: it is closely related to other superfoods like broccoli and cauliflower and, unsurprisingly, has a similar nutrient profile. Its use as a medicine goes at least as far back as Roman times, when cabbage or cabbage juice was used as a treatment for constipation — and considering how high in dietary fiber cabbage is, this treatment was likely very effective! Apart from providing fiber, cabbage is also rich in nutrients and this makes it useful in the control and prevention of a number of diseases, including cancer and diabetes. The specific properties of cabbage which make it so useful for these conditions are discussed below.
All cabbages, white or red, are rich in phytonutrients, which are compounds naturally found in plants that include polyphenols and glucosinolates. These compounds have been studied for their role in fighting cancer and inflammatory conditions. A 2013 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found that these antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties could contribute to the “prevention of chronic diseases…such as cancer and coronary artery disease”.
Cabbage is increasingly being studied as a source of possible treatment for those suffering from diabetes. In a 2008 publication in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a study which supplemented the diets of diabetic rats with red cabbage extract for 60 days found that, set against the control group, the supplemented rats displayed lower blood sugar levels, improved kidney function and improved weight loss. Researchers believe that this is likely due to the antioxidant and antihyperglycemic properties of cabbage, as well as to the high fiber content that helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Vitamin C and K
A single serving of cabbage can provide 47% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and 102% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients are important in disease prevention. Vitamin C, like the phytonutrients already mentioned, is also a powerful antioxidant and has been linked to a strong immune system and a defense against pathogens in the body. Vitamin K aids in the formation of blood clots and is also essential to maintain strong and healthy bones.
Weight Loss Properties
Weight loss reduces one’s chances of developing diabetes and many forms of cancer and cabbage has a number of properties which make it an ideal weight loss food. It is low in calories, fat and carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber and is considered to have a low glycemic index, meaning that it will not cause a sharp rise in blood sugar as it is digested. It is also a versatile vegetable to use while dieting as it can be easily added to a number of soups, stews, casseroles and crockpot dinners.
In summary, cabbage is high in fiber, rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients and an excellent aid for weight loss. All of these properties make it an ideal food both to treat conditions like cancer or diabetes and to prevent them from happening in the first place.