Red Cabbage. “This Vegetable Has Everything!”

Stefon, SNL’s city correspondent, is gone. However, the memory of him describing New York’s hottest new clubs lives on. (Photo credits: But, what if Stefon wasn’t really gone? What if he simply changed jobs, packed up from 30 Rockefeller and sashayed down the street to the Food Network? I love the thought of him reviewing a vegetable, perhaps red cabbage. I can almost hear his demure, raspy voice. 

“Red cabbage. This veggie has everything: fiber, more vitamin C than you can imagine, antioxidants and a bold color like Prince’s coat. This veggie’s got your back. It will lower your cholesterol, fight off inflammation and protect your tummy. And if that isn’t enough for you, if you are willing to wait a little, a secret weapon will create compounds to protect you from cancer.”

It’s true. This vegetable does have everything.

  • Antioxidants: The regal color of red cabbage comes from its high level of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant commonly found in blue, purple, and red plants. Studies show these antioxidants can reduce inflammation, provide cancer protection, and boost brain function.
  • Cabbage lowers cholesterol levels. The fiber-related nutrients in cabbage bind together with bile acids in the intestine, which then pass out of your body in a bowel movement. When this happens, your liver needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing upon your existing supply of cholesterol, dropping your cholesterol level. Cabbage provides this cholesterol-lowering benefit whether it is raw or cooked.[1]
  • Cancer Protection: Red cabbage is one of the best dietary sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-based compounds which provide protection from cancer. An enzyme called myrosinase converts glucosinolates into compounds called isothiocyanates (ICTs), which some studies suggest inhibit the growth of cancer cells, aiding in the prevention of bladder, breast, colon and prostate cancer.[2][3]
  • Digestive Health: ITCs also benefit the digestive tract by helping regulate the bacterial populations of Helicobacter pylori inside the stomach. These bacteria are normal stomach inhabitants, but their populations can become too large and they can latch onto the stomach lining. The ITCs generated from cabbage’s glucosinolates can lower this risk.[4]
  • Myrosinase: Maximize the health benefits of cabbage by letting it rest for 5-10 minutes between chopping or slicing and cooking. Once the cells in cabbage have been broken apart through slicing, shredding, or chopping, the myrosinase enzymes in those cells can become active in converting the glucosinolates in cabbage into ITCs.[5]
  • General Nutrition: Cabbage is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, potassium and manganese, and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium.


[1][4] World’s Healthiest Foods
[2] Bioactive organosulfur phytochemicals in Brassica oleracea vegetables–a review.
[3] Glucosinolates: Bioavailability and Importance to Health
[5] Linus Pauling Institute


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