Red Cabbage: Uses and Nutritional Value

While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, we highly recommend trying red cabbage because of its added nutritional benefits and its robust hearty flavor. We don’t think you will be disappointed.

The rich red color of red cabbage reflects its concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, which bring along with them unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f, rubra) has quite a few beneficial effects as it is rich in a number of nutrients and vitamins. Consumption of cabbage helps to prevent immature aging, reduces the chances of cancer, strengthens our immune system and even helps to lose weight.

In addition to these, red cabbage intake helps to improve skin and eye health, makes your bones stronger, eliminates toxic substances from the body, prevents diabetes and also takes care of your heart. Including red cabbage in your diet may help to treat ulcers and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Red Cabbage?

Red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f, rubra) is also known as purple cabbage or red kraut and is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Red cabbage, like green cabbage, is round and wrapped in tightly wound waxy leaves but is distinguished by coloring, flavor and texture. It can be eaten both raw and cooked and forms a delicious part of the cuisines of different countries. The primary characteristics of this vegetable are its red hue and bitter, peppery flavor.

Red cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable of firmly packed dark red-purple leaves. It belongs to the brassica group of vegetables along with Brussels sprouts and kale, and has a peppery taste and crunch when eaten raw, and becomes sweeter and softer in texture when cooked.

As the plants grow, they form tight balls of leaves in the centre surrounded by much larger green-purple leaves. When the red cabbage is ready for harvesting, the whole plant is picked and the outer leaves discarded, leaving just the cabbage head – the part we eat.

Read Also: Amazing Advantages of eating Raw Cabbage

Cultivation of Red Cabbage

The origin of red cabbage, as with all varieties of cabbage, can be traced back to Europe. It is believed that Celtic wanderers brought wild cabbages to Europe in around 600 B.C. The Nordic and Celtic tribes created the hard-heading cabbages in Europe.

Although the Romans introduced Europe to red cabbage in the 14th century, the first description of this vegetable can be found in England in 1570. It was considered a part of aristocratic culinary in the 18th century. It is, at present, grown and eaten throughout the world.

Red cabbage requires full sun and they should be planted at a distance of 18-24 inches depending on the variety. Well-drained and nutrient-rich soil which is high in organic matter is essential.

The soil should be kept moist throughout the growing season. The vegetable can withstand hard frosts and should be harvested when the heads appear firm. The heads should be cut from the base of the plant.

Nutritional Value of a Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f, rubra)

Cabbage, red, cooked
1.00 cup (150.00 grams):

Calories: 44
very low

Nutrient DRI/DV

Vitamin K = 79%, Vitamin C = 69%, Vitamin B6 = 20%, Manganese = 17%, Fiber = 16%, Potassium = 11%, Copper = 9%, Vitamin B = 19%, Folate = 9%, Choline = 8%, Phosphorus = 7%, Vitamin B = 27%, Selenium = 6%, Magnesium = 6%, Iron = 6%, Calcium = 6%, Pantothenic acid = 5%, Protein = 5%, Vitamin B = 34%.

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Cabbage provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System.

Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Cabbage can be found in the Food Rating System Chart.

9 Health Benefits of Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f, rubra) 

Mentioned below are the best health benefits of Red Cabbage:
Health Benefits of Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f, rubra)

1) Strengthens immune system

Red cabbage is rich in Vitamin C which is a very powerful anti-oxidant. Vitamin C catalyzes the production of white blood cells which form the first line of defense against harmful microbes. Uncontrolled production of free radicals in our body can impair the immune system.

Anti-oxidants like Vitamin C help us fight these radicals before they can do any serious damage. Vitamin C also helps in the formation of collagen which is instrumental in protecting our body tissues.

2) Helps prevent cancer

Red cabbage is rich in anti-oxidants like anthocyanins and indoles which have amazing cancer fighting capabilities. These anti-oxidants act against the disease-causing free radicals which are actually the harmful by-products of cellular metabolism. The indoles help to prevent breast cancer in women while Vitamin A reduces the chances of lung cancer.

3) Helps you to lose weight

Red cabbage is great to include in your diet as it will improve your calorie intake and also help you to lose weight. This is because this vegetable is low in calories and high in dietary fiber which helps to improve digestion.

Dietary fiber adds the necessary bulk to the stool and thus ensures that all unnecessary substances are eliminated. It also makes you feel fuller and prevents you from overeating.

4) Fights Arthritis

Red cabbage has phytonutrients which help to fight arthritis. This vegetable is rich in anthocyanine which helps to prevent inflammation i.e. pain and swelling in the joints which can lead to arthritis. Incorporating red cabbage in your diet will help to naturally treat arthritis and the complications associated with it.

Read Also: Methods of Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying Cabbage

5) Has Anti-aging Properties

Red cabbage has a number of anti-oxidants that act against the harmful free radicals in our body and negate the signs of aging that these free radicals may cause to occur .

The anti-oxidants help to remove dark spots, reduces wrinkles and age spots and helps to keep your skin fresh and tight. Consumption of this vegetable helps to regrow skin cells, protects your skin from sun damage and retains elasticity of skin due to the abundance of Vitamin A.

6) Good for your Bones

Red cabbage contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese and other important minerals which are essential for bone growth and maintaining mineral density.

The presence of Vitamin K in this vegetable ensures that the risks of osteoporosis in people who consume it are greatly reduced. This is because Vitamin K increases the amount of a protein which is required to maintain bone calcium.

7) Takes Care of your Eyes

When you consume red cabbage, your body receives 33 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin A. This vitamin is delivered in 3 different forms like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Beta-carotene is converted into retinol, a form of Vitamin A, and this helps eye cells to detect light and convert it into nerve impulses. Vitamin A also helps to prevent macular degeneration and formation of cataracts.

8) Helps Treat Ulcers

The presence of a particular amino acid called glutamine in red cabbage is responsible for its beneficial effects in reducing pain and inflammation associated with ulcers. Incorporating red cabbage in your diet is the best way to treat ulcers naturally.

9) Helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Red cabbage can protect the cognitive ability of people and hence helps to prevent or at least delay the onset of chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory loss occurs due to the formation of a certain type of plaque. The anthocyanins in red cabbage help prevent Alzheimer’s by preventing the occurrence of this plaque and thus protect your brain.

Nutritional Profile of Red Cabbage

The primary characteristics:  its red hue and bitter, peppery flavor signify that you’re getting two types of cancer-preventing substances. The red pigment comes from plant-based chemicals called flavonoids, while the sharp flavor is the result of sulfur-based compounds. In addition to these important phytochemicals, cabbage contributes to your overall health with fiber and a range of vitamins and minerals.

Red cabbage contains just 21 calories per 100g, being 90% water. It has a little protein at 1g per 100g, negligible fat and around 4g per 100g of carbohydrates, from naturally occurring sugars. Red cabbage is also quite a good source of fibre at 3g per 100g.

Red Cabbage: Uses and Nutritional Value

Like earlier mentioned, Red cabbage has a good mix of vitamins and minerals, especially folate, which is essential during pregnancy and also helps the body to produce red blood cells. It also contains vitamin C, which helps protect our cells by acting as an antioxidant, and potassium, which we need for a healthy heart.

1) Fat Free and Fibrous

One cup of chopped red cabbage (uncooked or steamed/simmered) has 28 calories, 1 gram of protein and no fat. You’ll get 2 grams of dietary fiber, which is 5 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 8 percent for women. Insoluble fiber from red cabbage helps prevent constipation and lowers the risk of developing diverticular disease.

2) Move Over Citrus

The best-known sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, so it may be a surprise to learn that 1 cup of chopped red cabbage has 56 percent of the recommended daily intake of this important vitamin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights inflammation and protects cells from damage that leads to chronic health conditions, such as heart disease.

Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, which is the connective tissue that gives structure, strength and support to muscles, skin, bones and other tissues throughout the body.

Collagen is also essential for the process of healing wounds. Vitamin C also strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells that fight invading bacteria and infections.

3) See the Benefits

Vitamin A and other carotenoids contribute to healthy eyes and vision, they have different roles. One cup of red cabbage contains 33 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, but the total is delivered in three different forms: beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Beta-carotene is converted into the form of vitamin A called retinol that’s used by cells in the eyes that detect light and convert it into nerve impulses. Lutein and zeaxanthin function as antioxidants that protect the retina and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

4) Coagulate with Vitamin K

Proteins that participate in blood clotting depend on the presence of vitamin K to complete their part of process. Other vitamin-K-dependent proteins regulate bone mineralization.

Long-term deficiency of vitamin K increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and cancer, according to research published in the April 2012 issue of Food and Nutrition Research. You’ll get 28 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K from 1 cup of chopped red cabbage.

Read Also: Health Benefits of Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

5) Preventative Medicine

Red cabbage belongs to the cruciferous, or Brassica, family that includes broccoli, turnips and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that are responsible for their bitter flavor.

Glucosinolates are digested into isothiocyanates, which reduce inflammation and fight bacteria. The red pigment comes from a flavonoid called cyanidin, that functions as an antioxidant.

Both cyanidin and the isothiocyanates prevent some types of cancer by stopping the growth of cancer cells, inhibiting enzymes that activate carcinogens and helping cells repair damage caused by carcinogens.

In April 2012, Vanderbilt University Medical Center released research results showing that breast cancer survivors who ate more cruciferous vegetables reduced their risk of dying by 62 percent.

Cabbage packs a lot of nutrition into so few calories, making it a nutritionally dense addition to any diet. If you dislike the bitterness of cabbage but want the nutritional rewards, add a pinch of sugar to the cabbage while cooking to balance its pungency.

Uses of Red Cabbage

Red cabbage has a number of nutrients and vitamins and it can be consumed in a number of ways. It contains the highest nutrition when it is raw. The nutritional benefits start to reduce when the vegetable is heated. In Europe and in the United States red cabbages are often pickled raw and made into sauerkraut.

This vegetable is a pertinent part of the cuisine of many countries and it can be had with grilled meat, olive oil, butter, eggs and cheeses and even avocados and chillies.

It is often used as a pH indicator as it changes its colour according to the material on which it is. It lasts longer than traditional cabbages and thus saves you the hassle of consuming it immediately.

Side-Effects & Allergies of Red Cabbage

Red cabbage should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women as its effects are not well known in such cases. Nursing infants can develop colic if the mothers even sparingly consume this vegetable. Hypothyroidism is a condition which develops when the thyroid gland underperforms.

This condition can get deteriorated if the person suffering from such consumes red cabbage. Furthermore, diabetic people should check their consumption of this vegetable as it affects the blood sugar level in diabetics.

Here are more amazing cabbage farming books and seeds to assist you further:

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Blogger- National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: benadinenonye.

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