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7 Reasons to Eat Cabbage This St. Patrick’s Day

Hold the corned beef. This St. Patrick’s Day, embrace the green theme, and make cabbage the star of the show for a much healthier dish. Here are seven reasons to incorporate cabbage into your diet.

1. It’s high in vitamin K and vitamin C

a head of cabbage with some choppedCredit: YelenaYemchuk/Getty Images

One cup of chopped cabbage contains several essential vitamins and minerals, including about 85 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. “Vitamin K1 is a key nutrient that plays many important roles in the body,” according to Healthline. “One of its main functions is to act as a cofactor for enzymes that are responsible for clotting the blood. Without vitamin K, the blood would lose its ability to clot properly, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.”

Plus, a cup of chopped cabbage also has about 54 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, “a potent antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, certain cancers and vision loss,” Healthline says. Vitamin C fights free radicals that are associated with disease. It also helps the body to produce collagen, which not only improves skin health but also bone, muscle and blood vessel function. And the vitamin C in a serving of cabbage can aid the body in absorbing iron.

2. It might help with chronic inflammation

The properties in cabbage might be able to reduce inflammation in the body from certain medical conditions, such as arthritis and heart disease. “Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage contain many different antioxidants that have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation,” Healthline says. “In fact, research has shown that eating more cruciferous vegetables reduces certain blood markers of inflammation.”

Although the research is limited, some people use cabbage leaf wraps for joint pain relief. One study aimed to test the effects of these cabbage wraps on people with osteoarthritis of the knee. And it found that the people who treated their condition with cabbage leaf wraps experienced significantly less pain than those who continued with their normal care routine. But the participants who used a topical pain gel experienced the most relief. Still, the study showed further research into the use of cabbage leaf wraps is warranted.

3. It can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease

If you want to show your heart some love, try incorporating red cabbage (also known as purple cabbage) into your diet. “Red cabbage contains substances called anthocyanins, which are responsible for the red-orange to blue-violet colors found in many fruits and vegetables,” according to Harvard Medical School. “Population-based studies have linked a higher intake of anthocyanins and other so-called phytochemicals to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Plus, the potassium in cabbage might be able to help combat high blood pressure. “One of its main jobs is to help regulate blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium in the body,” Healthline says. “Potassium helps excrete excess sodium through urine. It also relaxes blood vessel walls, which lowers blood pressure.”

4. It works to decrease cholesterol

white and red cabbage with some choppedCredit: ilietus/Getty Images

Another way cabbage can benefit your heart is by decreasing cholesterol. The soluble fiber in cabbage “helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to bile in the gut and removing it with the body’s waste,” according to Cleveland Clinic. “Bile is made up of cholesterol.”

Plus, cabbage contains compounds called phytosterols that also can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. “Because phytosterols are structurally similar to the body’s cholesterol, when they are consumed they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system,” Cleveland Clinic says. “As a result, cholesterol absorption is blocked.”

5. It can keep the digestive system healthy

The fiber in cabbage not only reduces cholesterol, but it also aids in digestion. “Insoluble fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movement,” according to Healthline. Plus, the soluble fiber in cabbage can increase beneficial gut bacteria.

Furthermore, cabbage juice offers some benefits for the digestive system, as well. One study gave patients with peptic ulcers fresh cabbage juice, which early research has shown to be effective at treating the condition. The patients experienced much faster rates of healing than those who were treated with conventional therapies. But more research still must be done to determine exactly how the cabbage juice works.

6. It has cancer-fighting properties

Several studies have linked cruciferous vegetables — including cabbage — to a reduced risk of cancer. “Among the various vegetables, broccoli and other cruciferous species appear most closely associated with reduced cancer risk in organs such as the colorectum, lung, prostate and breast,” according to one analysis. “The protecting effects against cancer risk have been attributed, at least partly, due to their comparatively high amounts of glucosinolates, which differentiate them from other vegetables.”

One study found cabbage consumption in particular significantly lowered the risk of pancreatic cancer with just one serving per week. Another study saw that breast cancer survivors might be able to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence and death by eating more cruciferous vegetables. And yet another study found a connection between cruciferous vegetable intake and a decreased risk of prostate cancer. But there still is a need for further research to fully understand the connection between the vegetables and cancer.

7. Fermenting it offers even more benefits

Sauerkraut in a bowl next to raw cabbageCredit: zeleno/Getty Images

Besides being a healthy food in many ways, cabbage also is extremely versatile. You can eat it raw or cooked — in soups, salads and many other dishes. And when you ferment it, you end up with even more nutrition.

Sauerkraut—or fermented cabbage—offers several health benefits of its own. Like other fermented foods, it’s high in beneficial probiotics that can improve gut health and help your body absorb nutrients, according to Healthline. Its nutrients and probiotics also can help strengthen your immune system, aid in weight loss and even reduce stress. If you’re purchasing sauerkraut, steer clear of anything that’s been pasteurized, as that kills the beneficial bacteria. And avoid varieties with preservatives or added sugars. Or skip the ready-made versions altogether, and try a sauerkraut recipe for yourself.

Main image credit: dla4/Getty Images

Article source: https://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-reasons-to-eat-cabbage-this-st-patricks-day.html

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