- May help to prevent cancer of the colon
- Can help to relieve gastric ulcers
- Excellent source of Vitamin C
- Can cause flatulence
- May contribute to iron deficiency if eaten in excess
This much maligned vegetable has a considerable reputation in traditional medicine. Cabbage is a vitamin-rich food which contains only 67 kilojoules in an average boiled portion.
The green varieties of cabbage are particularly rich in Vitamin C and K and are a good source of Vitamin E and potassium. Beta carotene, fibre, folate and thiamin are also present.
Cabbage is claimed to help gastric ulcers because it contains a substance called
S-Methylmethionine, that is thought to promote the healing of ulcers and the relief of pain. The traditional remedy prescribes 1 litre of raw cabbage juice per day for at least 8 days for the benefit to be felt. However, if consumed in excess, the juice can inhibit iron absorption which may eventually lead to anaemia. Cabbage can also cause flatulence.
Perhaps most important of all, cabbage contains a wealth of compounds that may help to protect against cancer. Research, done in Japan and the USA, suggests a link between regular consumption of cabbage and the suppression of the growth of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon.
Cabbage also helps to speed up the metabolism of oestrogen in women, which might offer a degree of protection against hormone-related cancers such as cancers of the breast and ovary.
Cabbage needs handling with care if the nutrients are to be preserved. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C when raw, but more than half is usually lost into the cooking water when it is boiled. Using a microwave oven to cook cabbage can greatly reduce the Vitamin loss. Most of the nutrients are concentrated in the dark, outer leaves.
Sauerkraut gets its flavour from bacterial fermentation. The helpful micro-organisms may help to promote healthy bacteria in the gut which can improve digestion, nutrient absorption and the synthesis of Vitamin B.