Not a fan of the leafy plant? You might want to change that. Nutritionists say that cabbage on its own has many benefits—it contains micronutrients that are essential for our health.
They say the vegetable that normally grows over the soil is very nutritious (especially the stems) because it’s where mineral salts and vitamins are concentrated.
Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet in Remera, says many people actually tend to eat the leaves of the cabbage and throw away the stem.
VITAMINS AND MINERAL SALTS
He says the vegetable has a big composition of potassium which plays a big role when it comes to blood circulation in the human body.
Potassium prevents and fights against hypertension, in fact, Kamanzi says, for people with hypertension, consuming cabbage can help control the disease.
Kamanzi says it also contains vitamin K, which is very rare in fruits and other vegetables but plenty in cabbage, thus making it a great option for people to consume.
“Because of this vitamin, consuming it helps improve the digestive system. For those with stomach ulcers, cabbage is the best option,” he says.
Kamanzi further notes that there are different ways cabbage is ‘prescribed’ depending on one’s case.
For instance, he says, in the case of ulcers, one is advised to eat cabbage raw, however, hygiene should be observed and maximised.
Kamanzi explains that due to the nature of this vegetable (its opening vegetables with different layers), it’s easy for microorganisms to make it a habitat.
“It’s therefore important to wash it thoroughly under running water before chopping it up. It’s also important to eat it when it’s raw because vitamin K is a soluble vitamin and it can be ruined easily when cooked. Most people don’t know how to cook to maintain the vitamins,” he says.
Dieudonne Bukaba, the nutrition programme coordinator at Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) Rwanda, says cabbage also contains small amounts of other micronutrients, including vitamin A, iron and riboflavin.
In addition, he says, cabbage is high in fibre and contains powerful antioxidants, including polyphenols and sulphur compounds.
“Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an odd number of electrons, making them unstable. When their levels become too high, they can damage the cells,” he says.
Bukaba notes that cabbage is especially high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and vision loss. It also helps improve digestion—if you want to improve your digestive health, fibre-rich cabbage is the way to go.
Bukaba explains that potassium in cabbage helps keep blood pressure within a healthy range. Increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods like cabbage may help lower high blood pressure levels.
“Cabbage is a good source of soluble fibre and plant sterols. These substances have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Vitamin K is critical for blood clotting. Cabbage is also an excellent source of vitamin K1,” he adds.
If it is going to be eaten raw, Kamanzi says washing it thoroughly is important. After cleaning, if it’s used in a salad, it’s ideal to add pumpkin seed or olive oil.
This, he says, helps with digestive diseases, like stomach ulcers.
Alternatively, he says one can take it as juice by blending the vegetable.
He notes that the white hard part (the core) of the cabbage can be used to extract the juice.
To maximise the usage of cabbage, Kamanzi says one should make sure they don’t throw away the hard white part because it also has concentration of micronutrients and mineral salts.
For gut problems, it’s advisable to eat the cabbage when it’s raw.
Kamanzi adds that cabbage shouldn’t be cooked over high heat—avoid overcooking.
The reason why partially cooking the vegetable is recommended, he says, is because overcooking results in the loss of important nutrients.