Let’s face it; cabbage is certainly not the most popular member of the cruciferous vegetable family. But it should be. I am going to tell you why and discuss the different benefits cabbage has.
Before we can discuss this, let’s talk about what it isn’t good for. It has some of the greatest medical benefits. By incorporating cabbage into your diet two or three times a day, you will begin to see many of the significant health benefits.
Antioxidants in Cabbage
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.
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.
Cabbage Is Rich in Vitamin K1 and B Vitamins
One serving of cabbage can provide you with 85 percent of your body’s daily requirement of vitamin K1, which deserves a special mention because many people are deficient in this vitamin. Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin most well known for the important role it plays in blood clotting and bone metabolism, but it’s also a known Alzheimer’s disease preventive by helping to limit neuron damage in your brain.
Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1, and vitamin B5. B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Digestive Benefits and Ulcer-Healing Properties
Cabbage juice is one of the strongest stimulants for your body to help produce acid. For the people who have low stomach acid, the benefits will be significantly more. With just a few teaspoons of cabbage juice, before eating will drastically improve your digestive system. Other compounds in cabbage that also have the potential to benefit your stomach and intestinal linings.
How you prepare it matters
Cabbage is best raw or close to raw. It is sometimes called tender-crisp. This helps to preserve its nutrients. Short-cooked and raw cabbages were the only two kinds that have been proven to help in the prevention of cancer. Cabbage should never be microwaved as two minutes in the microwave can kill the enzymes that are needed to convert the glucosinolates into cancer-preventive compounds. Steaming or sautéing cabbage quickly or eating it raw in coleslaw and salads is your best option. However, cabbage can also be juiced, as mentioned previously, and fermented which will give your body healthful amounts of beneficial bacteria and, if certain cultures are used, vitamin K2.
Cabbage can be considered to be one of the primary vegetables when fermented. Your vegetable blend should consist of at least 80% cabbage when making fermented veggies. This is an efficient way to get more cabbage into your diet. Below is a quick guide for how to make your own fermented cabbage (you can find more in-depth instructions here).
- Shred and cut your chosen veggies.
- Juice some celery. This is used as the brine, as it contains natural sodium and not only eliminates the need for sea salt but also keeps the vegetables free of the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
- Pack the veggies and celery juice along with the inoculants (starter culture, such as kefir grains, whey, or commercial starter powder, all of which can be used for vegetables) into a 32-ounce wide-mouthed canning jar. A kraut pounder tool can be helpful to pack the jar and eliminate any air pockets. We hope to have our new starter culture which is optimized with strains of bacteria that will make high doses of vitamin K2 sometime in early 2013 assuming our testing goes well.
- Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with celery juice and that the juice is all the way to the top of the jar to eliminate trapped air.
- Seal the jar store in a warm, slightly moist place for 24 to 96 hours, depending on the food being cultured. Ideal temperature range is 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit; 85 degrees max. Remember, heat kills both the good and the not so good microbes!
- When done, store in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
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