Cabbage, known as Brassica Oleracea, is a leafy biennial green plant, grown as an annual vegetable. It is closely related to plants such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Cabbage heads can be green, purple, or white, though the most common ones are the green-headed cabbages.
At first, the plants are 40-60cm tall, but after the first year they can grow up to 2m. The heads weigh between 0.5 and 4kg. They have thick, alternating leaves, with various kinds of margins (lobed, wavy, dissected). They have yellow or white flowers, with four petals, four sepals, six stamens, and a two-celled superior ovary. The fruit of the plant is a silique that opens when it becomes mature, revealing small, round, black or brown seeds.
Cabbage is mostly grown for its leaved heads. They are best grown in well-drained soil, in a place where they can receive full sun. Seeds should be planted 30-60cm apart. However, cabbage should be isolated from other subspecies by at least 1km, in order to avoid cross-pollination.
Cabbages are known to be extremely nutritious. They contain a rich amount of antioxidants (phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, thiocyanates, lutein), various vitamins (vitamins C, B1, B5, B6, K), and important minerals (magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium). Last, they have a very low amount of fat and 100g of cabbage has only 25 calories.
If you’re buying cabbage, you should choose a medium-sized head that looks fresh, firm and compact. Some might be sprayed with insecticide, so make sure you wash it properly under running cold water. It’s best to consume it while it’s fresh, though you can also store it in the refrigerator for a few days.
Cabbage is known since antiquity as both food and a natural cure, especially in its fighting against vitamin C deficiencies or scurvy – the disease caused by lack of vitamin C, manifested in anemia, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. Cabbage can be consumed fresh or preserved (sour cabbage), in both cases with beneficial effects. Cabbage contains sugars, mineral salts, a hypoglycemic principle, vitamin C and provitamin A, antibiotic principles, mucilage, and others.
Cabbage juice, mixed with carrots (for a more acceptable taste) and a few drops of lemon juice, is one of the effective ways to consume it for those who can’t stand its taste but still want to benefit from the substances contained.
A glass of sauerkraut juice drunk in several rounds daily, between meals, for several weeks, is a good remedy to fight ulcer; besides the usual vitamins, it also contains the factor/vitamin U, with anti-ulcerous properties, which is lost in the process of boiling.
Raw cabbage is active in ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, and constipation, especially thanks to its mucilage and its substances that contain cellulose. As a powerful diuretic, cabbage is recommended for edema, kidney stones, cirrhosis, and ascites. It is also included in the diet of diabetics. Cabbage may cause indigestion, especially because of some ingredients used in its preparation.
Indications for external conditions
Cabbage is used with good results in the treatment of external conditions such as abscesses or boils. It may also be used as a cataplasm in case of burns, phlebitis, varicose veins and varicose ulcers. In these situations the leaves are used without ribs, rived by pressing with a glass and applied to the affected area.
As compresses, cabbage has a favorable effect on chilblains, bruises and sprains.
Cosmetic use of cabbage
Press cabbage leaves (without their veins ) by rolling a bottle on top of them; then apply the washed leaves as a mask for the night, to reactivate circulation, for cleansing the skin and fight cellulite.
Lots of people love cabbage for its delicious, refreshing taste and the various ways in which it can be eaten, either raw or cooked. However, the vegetable has also become popular thanks to its many health benefits. From losing weight to improving your eyes’ health, regular consumption of cabbage is considered good for our bodies. Find out more about the health benefits and side effects of cabbage!
How to Use Cabbage
Some cabbage varieties can be cultivated in the garden for ornamental uses. They are usually called “flowering cabbage”. They do not produce densely leaved heads. They only have either purple or green outer leaves, which surround an inner group of various smaller leaves, which are white, red, or pink.
However, cabbage is mostly cultivated for its culinary uses. It can be used in the kitchen either raw or cooked, in order to prepare delicious meals.
It can be used raw, together with other vegetables, in order to make a salad. A well-known one would be the Coleslaw salad, where cabbage is one of the key ingredients. It can be cooked together with other vegetables or meat. It can also be pickled; this is a popular method when it comes to preserving cabbage.
Cabbage is also an important ingredient of cabbage soup. This soup is often recommended to people who are on a diet, wishing to lose weight. There are various recipes available, but for an easy, classic one, you’d need 6 green onion, 2 green peppers, 1 large cabbage head, celery, 2 cans of canned tomatoes, and some bullion. All you have to do is cut the vegetables into small pieces and then add all the ingredients in a large pot; don’t forget to season it too. First boil for about 10 minutes, then leave the pot on low heat until the vegetables become tender.
Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage isn’t popular all around the world just because of its taste. Regular consumption of the vegetable can lead to numerous health benefits. Regular consumption can help your body, as the cabbage acts as a detoxifier. This way, it purifies your blood and removes the toxins from it. It also helps lower the blood pressure, thanks to its potassium content. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, opening up the blood vessels and helping with the blood flow. Plus, cabbage helps lower “bad cholesterol” levels. This way, cabbage also prevents various heart problems, including strokes and heart attacks.
Eating cabbage regularly can help reduce muscle soreness. The green vegetable is also good for our bones. It protects the bones from degradation and it delays and/or prevents bone weakening, as well as other conditions, such as osteoporosis.
Seeing as cabbage contains powerful antioxidants, regular consumption helps our bodies to prevent cancer. The antioxidants fight against the free radicals which can lead to cancer. They also work to stimulate enzyme activity and help with slowing down or completely stopping the growth of tumors. It is known to help prevent various types of cancer: breast, prostate, bladder, colorectal, stomach, and lung cancer.
Cabbage contains beta-carotene, which improves our eyes’ health. It also helps prevent macular degeneration and delays the formation of cataracts. Also, its vitamin K content helps our brain health. Cabbage protects the nerves from damage and it helps prevent various diseases, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It also works to boost both our mental functions and our concentration.
Cabbage is good for our skin, as well, especially when it comes to the aging process. The antioxidants fight against free radicals which are often responsible for aging of the skin, such as wrinkles, spots, or skin discoloration. Also, the vegetable generally improves the condition of your body, when it is going through the aging process.
Pregnant women can eat cabbage in safe, food amounts, as it is bound to help with morning sickness. Also, nursing women can use cabbage leaves on their breasts. By applying the leaves, it will help with breast engorgement.
Cabbage is also known to help you lose weight. It contains important nutrients while having very few calories. Cabbage can also help with various stomach problems. This includes stomach pain, stomach, and intestinal ulcers, or excess stomach acid.
Cabbage also has anti-inflammatory properties. As it contains glutamine, it can help with various types of inflammations, as well as with allergies, fevers, joint pains, and skin disorders. It is also known to help keep the glands of the endocrine system in good condition. Last but not least, it can help with asthma.
Side Effects of Cabbage
While cabbage has plenty of health benefits, you should also be careful with the few, yet important side effects.
Cabbage is recommended to pregnant, as it is safe when consumed in food amounts. However, medical amounts could possibly affect the baby. Make sure you don’t eat too much cabbage during these periods. However, it’s best not to consume cabbage even in food amounts while breastfeeding, as the babies could develop colic. Applying cabbage leaves to the breasts is safe though, as it doesn’t affect the baby.
In some cases, the consumption of cabbage can lead to flatulence and diarrhea. Also, people who have hypothyroidism are recommended not to consume cabbage, as it can worsen the condition.
If you’re taking any medication, make sure cabbage won’t interfere with it. Avoid eating cabbage if you’re taking medications for the liver, blood-thinners, acetaminophen, oxazepam, and warfarin.