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Cabbage: Why this practical, healthy and inexpensive vegetable should be a fixture in your fridge.

Ode to Cabbage

Why this practical, healthy and inexpensive vegetable should be a fixture in your fridge.

As naturopathic doctors know well, achieving and maintaining good health has so much to do with our lifestyle and all of the little practices and habits that we adopt. Today, I’d like to talk about the benefits of eating cabbage regularly.

Eating half a plate of veggies with every meal is an important part of a healthy diet, but I’ve been hearing that some are struggling with this, especially now. I’m hearing that many are limiting trips to the grocery store and finding their fridge lacks fresh produce by the end of the week.

Cabbage to the rescue!

This vegetable (along with many others in its family – the Brassica family) lasts longer in the fridge than more delicate veggies. For me, it’s often a go-to at the end of the week when my supplies are low. I eat the veggies that will perish more quickly earlier in the week and save the cabbage for when I’m getting low.

Not only is it long-lasting but it’s also inexpensive, grows locally, and can stretch a long way – one cabbage can contribute to several meals.
And cabbage is extremely versatile!

My kids love it sauteed Asian style with garlic and ginger, and they also enjoy eating it raw as a snack. It can be used in coleslaw, to bulk up a green salad, roasted, or used to make sauerkraut. You can even put it in smoothies (this needs a high powered blender to get it smooth). There are many many other ways to use it – just Google “cabbage recipe” and you will find tons!

Health benefits of cabbage:

Nutrient-dense – this fibrous, low-calorie food is nutrient-dense, packed with antioxidants, and contains important nutrients such as Vitamin C, potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, biotin, calcium, magnesium and manganese.

Anti Ulcer – In the 1950s, cabbage juice was demonstrated to aid in the healing of peptic ulcers. The antiulcer component was originally referred to as “Vitamin U” and later identified as the amino acid glutamine. Glutamine is known to be a supportive nutrient for the growth and regeneration of the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.

Hormone balancing/ Anticancer – Vegetables in the Brassica family including cabbage contain a chemical called Indole-3-carbionol or I3C for short. I3C is released from these foods by chewing and is then mostly converted to a chemical called diindolylmethane (DIM for short). These chemicals can support liver function and help the body to properly process estrogen in a healthy way. Due to this and other supportive chemicals, it is thought that vegetables in the Brassica family may help to prevent cancer, in particular breast cancer.

Aiding estrogen metabolism might also be helpful to a host of hormonal conditions such as acne, PMS, menstrual disorders, and perimenopausal concerns. When treating these conditions clinically, I sometimes turn to supplemental forms of these chemicals for a stronger effect. At the same time, I am a huge advocate for using food as medicine so a first step might be to try to increase these foods in the diet. DIM is also thought to change how much we are affected by androgens or “male” hormones. This may be another reason why it can be helpful for acne.

Breast engorgement/swelling – Cabbage has long been used as a home remedy for nursing mothers for relief from swelling and breast engorgement. Removing the large vein first, chilled cabbage leaves are worn inside the bra to bring relief from this condition.

A note of caution. Chemicals in the cabbage family of foods appear to reduce thyroid function to some degree. People with thyroid concerns may want to speak to their healthcare provider and be cautious with the over-consumption of plants in the cabbage family (especially if eaten raw). Information here is for informational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


Dr. Alexis Blanks is a naturopathic doctor. She is co-owner of Flourish Naturopathic. She would be happy to see you virtually, or in her office to help you better understand your health and take it to the next level. Learn more at FlourishND.com.

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