The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called "cabbage head" is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes. It is the principal ingredient in coleslaw.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 103 kJ (25 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5.8 g
- Sugars 3.2 g
- Dietary fiber 2.5 g
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 1.28 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.061 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.040 mg (3%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.234 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.212 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.124 mg (10%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 53 µg (13%)
Vitamin C 36.6 mg (61%)
Calcium 40 mg (4%)
Iron 0.47 mg (4%)
Magnesium 12 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 26 mg (4%)
Potassium 170 mg (4%)
Zinc 0.18 mg (2%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a low calorie food.
Along with broccoli and other brassica vegetables, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. The compound is also used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death. Boiling reduces anti-cancer properties.
In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.
Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers.Cabbage is also known for slowing down growing cancer cells.
Effect on the Thyroid Gland
Cabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).
There are many varieties of cabbage based on shape and time of maturity. Cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are called coleworts; their leaves do not form a compact head."Colewort" may also refer to a young cabbage. The word comes from Latin caulis (stalk of a plant, cabbage) and Old English wyrt (herb, plant, root). A drumhead cabbage has a rounded, flattened head. An oxheart cabbage has an oval or conical head. A pickling cabbage, such as the red-leafed cabbage, is especially suitable for pickling; krautman is the most common variety for commercial production of sauerkraut. Red cabbage is a small, round-headed type with dark red leaves. Savoy cabbage has a round, compact head with crinkled and curled leaves. Winter cabbage will survive the winter in the open in mild regions such as the southern United States; the name is also used for Savoy cabbage. Other traditional varieties include white cabbage, "Late Flat Dutch", "Early Jersey Wakefield" (a conical variety) and "Danish Ballhead" (late, round-headed).