Cabbage is an incredible food

by Joanne Henning Tedesco —

High in nutrients, cabbage is readily available, inexpensive, fights cancer and generally scores high marks on the list of healthy foods.

High in nutrients, cabbage is readily available, inexpensive, fights cancer and generally scores high marks on the list of healthy foods.

The botanical name for cabbage is Brassica oleracea capitata, a cruciferous vegetable whose family includes brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi and cauliflower. High in nutrients, cabbage is readily available, inexpensive, fights cancer and generally scores high marks on the list of healthy foods. In the past, it was one of the most important foods and medicinal plants in Europe.

Found in several varieties including red, green and the more delicate Chinese type, bok choy, cabbage can be steamed, boiled, braised, stir-fried or eaten raw. The leaves contain proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, niacin and minerals. While cabbage can smell unpleasant when cooking, the very thing that causes that smell is reported to play a role in cancer prevention. Cooking releases sulfur compounds, or phytochemicals called indoles, which research has shown may prevent breast cancer by inhibiting estrogen.

These sulfur compounds actually multiply during the cooking process. In fact, the amount of sulfides released while boiling cabbage doubles in the fifth through seventh minute of cooking. A bit of vinegar added as cooking liquid will help reduce the smell. Some chefs recommend adding a bread crust tied up in a double wrapping of cheesecloth to cooking cabbage to help alleviate odor.

As inexpensive as cabbage is, it is one of the richest vegetables when it comes to protective vitamins. Raw cabbage cleans the waste from the stomach and upper bowels, which improves digestion and reduces constipation. Hailed as a cancer inhibitor, particularly colon cancer, cabbage also stimulates the immune system, soothes ulcers, improves circulation and kills harmful bacteria.

The outer leaves are a good source of Vitamin E, making it good for the complexion, and rich in vitamin C (raw white cabbage contains as much Vitamin C as lemon juice) and sulfur. All these benefits are yours at only 24 calories per 3.5 ounces.

 

Red Cabbage and Shredded Beets with Cranberries 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups red cabbage, coarsely shredded
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, coarsely shredded cooked fresh or canned whole baby beets
  • 1/3 cup fresh or canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

Add oil or spray a 10-inch skillet or Dutch oven with Pam and heat over moderate heat for one minute. Add cabbage and saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a little liquid if necessary. Stir in beets, cranberry sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, allspice and cloves. Cook covered until tender, about 10 minutes. Yields four servings.

 

Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 3, June/July 2005.

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