6 Benefits of red cabbage, a versatile veggie (recipe included)
11/12/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
6 Benefits of red cabbage, a versatile veggie (recipe included)

Take your coleslaw to the next level by using red cabbage. Also known as purple cabbage, this strikingly colored vegetable is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial compounds that give it an edge over its green counterpart.

Red cabbage belongs to the mustard (Brassicaceae) family, which also includes broccoli and Brussels sprouts. It has a slightly peppery taste and is crunchy when eaten raw. When cooked, red cabbage takes on a softer texture and adopts a milder, slightly sweet flavor, much like its other peppery family members.

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Nutritional composition and health benefits

Members of the mustard family are incredibly healthy, and many of them are even regarded as superfoods. Red cabbage is no different, and it’s incredibly nutrient-dense. Here’s what one cup of red cabbage provides:

  • Fiber: 7 percent of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 3 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 20 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 85 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 42 percent of the DV
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 4 percent of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): 9 percent of the DV
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): 4 percent of the DV
  • Manganese: 11 percent of the DV
  • Potassium: 6 percent of the DV
  • Magnesium: 4 percent of the DV
  • Calcium: 4 percent of the DV
  • Iron: 4 percent of the DV

Red cabbage is also an excellent source of anthocyanins. These compounds give red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. Anthocyanins double as antioxidants, protecting healthy cells from inflammation and damage caused by free radicals.

Aside from providing nutrients and antioxidants, red cabbage also offers these other benefits:

  1. Reduces inflammation – Low-grade inflammation is implicated in various diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, red cabbage can reduce low-grade inflammation thanks to anthocyanins. In one study, red cabbage was found to effectively decrease markers of gut inflammation by up to 40 percent.
  2. Supports cardiovascular health – Red cabbage supports heart health in many ways. For starters, anthocyanins can reduce high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Red cabbage also contains kaempferol, a compound that may help prevent “bad” cholesterol from clogging arteries.
  3. Maintains healthy bones – Red cabbage contains vitamins and minerals that help keep bones healthy and strong. These include calcium, manganese and vitamins C and K.
  4. Improves liver health – Red cabbage is one of the few reliable sources of indoles. These compounds keep the liver healthy by reducing the amount of toxins in the liver. Some studies also suggest that indoles may help repair liver damage, as well as lower your risk of developing liver diseases.
  5. Improves digestion – Red cabbage supports your gut in many ways. For starters, red cabbage is full of fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes bowel regularity. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in red cabbage can also reduce gut inflammation by promoting the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are also thought to improve liver health and gut issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

How to prep and cook red cabbage

Red cabbage is an incredibly versatile vegetable. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it pairs well with a variety of dishes. For instance, it can be steamed and used to make dumplings or braised with wine and vinegar for a tasty side dish. Red cabbage can also be roasted, sauteed with meats or shredded and added to soups. However, as with most other vegetables, cooking can alter the nutrient content of red cabbage.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare red cabbage:

  • Choose the best red cabbage. A good red cabbage should feel heavy and have crisp leaves. Steer clear from red cabbages that have puffy leaves or outer layers removed.
  • Prepare it as you would a green cabbage. Prepping a red cabbage is hardly any different from prepping a green cabbage. Start by stripping off the outer leaves, then wash the head well. Slice the whole head into quarters, then remove the hard core from each piece. Chop or shred the quarters.
  • Use vinegar. Heat destroys anthocyanins, which is why cookingrecipe red cabbage causes it to turn dull. Adding a touch of vinegar to the water when blanching red cabbage allows it to retain its color.
  • Use a light hand. Red cabbage can lose its distinct peppery flavor if it’s handled too roughly.

Recipe for red cabbage borscht

Want to give red cabbage a try? Whip up this easy red cabbage borscht.

Ingredients for 20 servings:

  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 medium-sized onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized fennel bulbs, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red cabbage head, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds medium-sized beets
  • 2 pounds chuck steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup chives, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • Whole-grain flour
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the beets in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for one hour or until tender. Once cooled, peel the beets and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season the meat with salt and pepper. Toss with flour until just lightly coated.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole over medium-high heat. Cook the meat until browned. Transfer to a bowl and let rest.
  4. Add the rest of the oil to the casserole. Stir in the cabbage, onions, fennel, garlic and paprika. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and honey and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the beets, meat, chicken broth and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour or until the meat is tender.
  6. Discard the thyme sprigs. Ladle the borscht into serving bowls and top with chives. Serve and enjoy.

Red cabbage is a versatile, nutrient-dense vegetable with several benefits to offer. Add red cabbage to your diet today to enjoy its natural goodness.

Sources:

FoodsForBetterHealth.com

BBCGoodFood.com

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