Latin name: Brassica oleracea
What is a Cabbage?
As a member of the Cruciferae family (also known as the Brassicaceae family), cabbage is related to kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. Cabbage has a round shape and is composed of superimposed layers of leaves. There are three main types of cabbage: green, red, and Savoy. Green cabbage coloring ranges from pale to dark green. Red cabbage has crimson or purple leaves with white veins running through. The Savoy cabbage has ruffled leaves and is yellowish-green in color.
A longstanding dietary staple around the world, cabbage is sturdy, inexpensive, and widely available throughout the year—but it is best enjoyed in season during the late fall and winter months. Prized for its naturally spicy flavor, cabbage is the basis for cole slaw, German sauerkraut, and Korean kimchi.
What are the health benefits of Cabbage?
Cooling in nature, cabbage is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the common cold, constipation, whooping cough, hot flashes, and frostbite.
The ancient Greeks and Romans were both familiar with the cabbage and praised it for its medicinal properties. In European folk medicine, raw cabbage was made into a paste and used to relieve acute inflammation. Studies have found that raw cabbage juice is very effective in treating peptic ulcers, probably due to cabbage’s high content of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Cabbages, like other cruciferous vegetables, are rich sources of the phytonutrients that help cleanse the body of cancer-causing substances. Recent studies show that those who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a much lower risk of a number of cancers, especially lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder cancer. Keep in mind that red cabbages contain significantly more protective phytonutrients than white cabbages.
New research reveals that crucifers provide significant cardiovascular benefits as well.
Nutritionally, crucifers are also a good source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, folate, and calcium, most of which are also antioxidants.
Where can I find Cabbage?
Cabbages can be found in most grocery stores and outdoor markets in season. Red cabbage’s peak season is in the fall. Green cabbage is abundant in the winter. Savoy cabbage is at its best in the spring.
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