If you love the taste of the crunchy, vibrant vegetable, you’d be pleased to know that there are multiple health benefits of red cabbage. So what makes red cabbage so good for you?
What is red cabbage?
Red cabbage, also known as purple cabbage, is a kind of cabbage. It has reddish purple leaves with a white core and can be consumed raw or cooked depending on your preference.
Red cabbage is both a brassica vegetable and belongs to the cruciferous vegetables category. Other vegetables in this category include green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, collard greens and kale.
There are several types of cabbage that you can purchase other than red cabbage. Some varieties are more popular than others.
- Green cabbage
- White cabbage
- Napa cabbage
- Savoy cabbage
You can also include kale, bok choy and Brussels sprouts in this list, but they are typically put in categories of their own.
Green cabbage is the most common variety, with white cabbage, napa cabbage and savoy cabbage being more uncommon.
The history of cabbage is unfortunately quite unclear. Researchers believe cabbage probably originated in Europe and China, depending on the variety.
Cabbage was a part of the diet of early Romans and ancient Egyptians, signifying how long it’s been consumed.
It has been used to make two popular fermented foods, sauerkraut in Europe and kimchi in Korea. These foods played a huge role in staving off starvation in the winter.
Red cabbage is used in many dishes, mostly side dishes. Some of these dishes include red kraut, a variation of sauerkraut, and red cabbage slow, similar to coleslaw.
Where to buy
You should be able to find red cabbage at your local grocery stores either whole or pre-prepped in a bag. Frozen red cabbage and canned red cabbage may be difficult to find.
It’s also possible your store offers a cabbage mix with a mix of red cabbage, green cabbage and carrots.
If you can’t find red cabbage at your local grocery store, try an International grocery store or a health foods store.
5 Health Benefits of Red Cabbage
Consuming red cabbage on a regular basis can have numerous health benefits ranging from improved gut health, healthier skin and bones, reducing high blood pressure and reducing risk of chronic diseases.
It can help improve digestion
One cup of red cabbage contains about 2 grams of fiber. This fiber can aid your digestive system in a variety of ways.
First, fiber adds bulk to your stool, which can lead to bigger and more frequent bowel movements. If you struggle with constipation this can be a huge plus.
Along with this, fiber cannot be digested by our digestive system, so it’s often used as fuel for your healthy gut bacteria. This can help the “good” bacteria grow and in turn, the gut bacteria releases short chain fatty acids, which we can in turn use for fuel.
It is good for your skin
One cup of red cabbage contains about 51 milligrams of vitamin C. While you may associate vitamin C with the immune system, one of its main functions is wound healing and production of collagen, which keeps your skin elastic and bouncy.
Along with this, red cabbage has a high water content, ensuring you are properly hydrated which is good for your skin as well.
It is good for bone health
Red cabbage is also a good source of vitamin K with one cup of red cabbage containing about 34 micrograms. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Consuming a diet rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin D and vitamin K is essential for maintaining healthy bones, especially as you age.
It can help lower blood pressure
There still needs to be more research to support this claim, but considering the other health benefits of red cabbage, it’s worth a try.
Reducing blood pressure, in turn, can improve overall heart health. If you are at risk for heart disease, it may be beneficial to add red cabbage to your diet.
It can reduce risk of cancer
Consuming red cabbage can also play a role in cancer prevention. There is research to suggest cruciferous vegetables like red cabbage can reduce risk of multiple types of cancer such as prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.
This could be due to a variety of factors such as anti-inflammatory effects and the presence of antioxidants which can protect cells from DNA damage.
Red cabbage is a nutrient dense vegetable, meaning it is full of beneficial nutrients but isn’t very high in calories. Overall, it’s a nutritious addition to your diet.
All nutrition information was collected from cronometer.com using the entry “Cabbage, Red, Raw” from the NCC database.
One cup of raw red cabbage, chopped, contains about 28 calories. This is very low amount of calories considering the amount of nutrition you are getting.
One cup of raw red cabbage contains about 7 grams of carbohydrates, with about 2 grams of those carbohydrates coming from fiber.
This might not seem like a high amount of fiber, but considering it’s only 28 calories, it provides a high amount of fiber per calorie.
One cup of cooked red cabbage contains almost 7 grams of fiber, making it a good source of fiber.
One cup of raw red cabbage contains about 2 grams of protein. Red cabbage is also not considered a complete protein because it doesn’t contain adequate amounts of every essential amino acid.
Overall, you shouldn’t expect to get adequate amounts of protein for red cabbage, or just vegetables in general (with some notable exceptions like soy).
One cup of raw red cabbage contains less than one gram of fat. As mentioned above, you should rely on red cabbage as a source of fat in your diet. Instead add nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocado and moderate amounts of vegetable oils as your fat source.
Red cabbage is a very nutritious vegetable, containing several essential nutrients like important minerals and vitamins.
One cup of raw red cabbage is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. It also contains some vitamin A and potassium.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is eating red cabbage everyday good for you?
Yes, consuming red cabbage everyday in moderate amounts is good for you. That being said, large quantities can have potential side effects.
While less than ¾ cup of red cabbage is FODMAP-friendly, larger portions can lead to digestive issues in those with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Along with this, red cabbage contains goitrogens and high intake of this substance can lead to thyroid problems. That being said, overdosing on goitrogens isn’t a concern unless you consume copious amounts of cabbage daily.
Is red cabbage anti-inflammatory?
It depends. Technically every food is inflammatory in the sense that blood needs to transport to the gut in order to carry out digestion.
Along with this, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, a diet high in red cabbage can lead to a lot of inflammation in the gut as your body attempts to digest the food.
But when people say “anti-inflammatory” they are typically referring to chronic inflammation. In this case, red cabbage can be anti-inflammatory.
Is raw cabbage healthier than cooked cabbage?
Neither raw cabbage nor cooked cabbage is “healthier”. Cooked cabbage will be more nutrient dense, simply because some water will escape during the cooking process and the food will be more condensed.
Along with this, cooking the cabbage may remove some “anti-nutrients” and can help improve digestibility.
That being said, these differences are miniscule. Enjoy red cabbage in whichever form you find more enjoyable or switch it up every once in a while!
Is red cabbage good for weight loss?
Red cabbage is high in fiber and water content, making it a great addition to a weight loss diet. It can help you feel fuller for longer in comparison to other low protein, low fiber and low water content foods.
That being said, you will only lose weight if you are consuming less calories than you are expending. Aim for a balanced diet that is high in protein, fiber and water, while also incorporating foods you enjoy to ward off cravings.
Does red cabbage cleanse your gut?
No, red cabbage does not “cleanse your gut”. That being said, it can be beneficial for your gut microbiome because it contains fiber, which good gut bacteria use as fuel.
Before trying to use food to “cleanse your gut”, please speak to your primary care physician to discuss any concerns you have and treatment options.
In general, anyone claiming you can cleanse your gut using a particular food or supplement isn’t using evidence based research to back their claims. In some cases, their recommendations can be harmful or dangerous.