Cabbage may not be at the top of your ‘favorite foods’ list, however the health benefits are certainly worth making sure it is at least on your list. For centuries many cultures have recognized the health benefits of eating cabbage. Savoy cabbage, originating in Italy, has crinkly leaves and is considered the most tender and sweet and is best for stuffed cabbage recipes. The Germans have made cabbage most famous with the well-known sauerkraut.

Cabbage is high in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and immune system booster. Eating foods with antioxidant compounds helps the body to fight free radical damage, which helps to prevent cancer. Cabbage is in the Brassica family of vegetables, along with Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens

A case study published in the September 9, 2003 edition of Cancer Research showed that women, who ate more Brassica family vegetables, significantly lowered their chances of developing breast cancer. Researchers discovered that high urinary levels of isothiocyanates (I-so-thi-o-cy-a-nates), which is a compound found in Brassica vegetables, was associated with lowered breast cancer risk

Raw cabbage cleans the waste from the stomach and upper bowels, which improves digestion and reduces constipation. Which one of the reasons it is also attributed to lowering the risk of colon cancer and for helping the healing of stomach ulcers.
Cabbage is also a valuable source for Vitamin E, which makes it good for the complexion as well.

Although cabbage has many advantages to offer, cabbage can interfere with the uptake of iodine, those with goiter conditions should consult their physician before eating cabbage.
Cabbage is available all year round making it the perfect addition to your diet. Red and purple cabbage take longer to mature, so these types are generally not as tender as green or white varieties. Raw shredded red cabbage makes a great addition to a traditional green salad, but remember if you use red or purple cabbage to cook with, be aware that the color may leach into the other ingredients.

The cabbage’s outer leaves are darker than its inner leaves because of exposure to sunlight and the green and red variety have a more distinct taste and crunchy texture compared to the more delicate leaves of Savoy.

Here are a couple of great ways to include cabbage into your diet.

Hawaiian Coleslaw

4 cups fresh, shredded green cabbage
1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (use freshly grated if you have it)
1 tbsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise or miracle whip

Shred the cabbage into a large bowl.
Drain the orange sections and reserve the juice.
Drain and measure the pineapple.
Add salt and spices to the cabbage.
Add orange juice and pepper and toss lightly.
Add the drained fruit, tossing it all/ Stir in the mayonnaise.
Chill well before serving.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon Fennel Seed, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Mustard Seed

Steam cabbage and onion with 1/4 cup water in a covered saucepan over
medium high heat (or microwave) until cabbage is softened but still crunchy, not more than 5 minutes.
Add other ingredients and cook on medium high heat for 5 more minutes, to blend flavors (microwave, 2 minutes).
Taste and correct seasoning, then cool to room temperature.

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  This article is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical advice if you have any concern about your health or physical condition, and you should always consult your physician before following the recommendations presented here.  

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© Melt Magazine 2004