Friday, March 29, 2013

Make Cabbage A Staple Food in Your Diet!

Cabbage is the one food I talk to every single one of my clients about incorporating into their diets. I tell them to buy a head of cabbage (Green, Purple, Savoy, Napa, whatever!), chop it up, and cook it down quickly in low sodium chicken or vegetable broth. You can eat it straight out of the fridge plain or with light soy sauce as a snack, add it to omelets, stir fries, chili, pasta and more! Cabbage is fantastic for lowering cholesterol and always comes up as the star veggie for cancer prevention (due to the glucosinolates). Another benefit is that it is one of the cheapest vegetables and almost always available. Anyone who says that it is hard to eat healthy and that produce is expensive has not found the aisle with cabbage!

Cabbage is also your best friend if you are looking to lose weight (ever hear of the Cabbage Soup Diet??)! 1 cup of raw cabbage has a mere 17 calories and is chock full of nutrients (Vitamins K, C, folate, and more), as well as fiber. So, it is a great way to add lots of volume to your meals for not many calories… and it keeps things moving through your system ;-) If you find you get very gassy by eating cabbage, you will need to slowly work up your G.I. tract to tolerate it. So, don’t start off eating 2 cups of cabbage/day, but rather, start with ¼ c/day one week, then ½ c/day, and so on.

My recommendations:  Savoy cabbage seems to be one of the healthiest for its cancer preventative properties (specifically bladder, colon and prostate cancers). However, all the different cabbages offer different patterns of glucosinalates and the different colors all offer different antioxidants- so go ahead and mix it up! In terms of retaining the most nutrition, steaming seems to be best in terms of maximizing the health benefits of the glucosinalates. However, if you’re eating lots of cabbage, eat it however you like- raw in a salad, sautéed, steamed, cooked down, as kimchi, slow-cooked, etc. I am also a big advocate of Chinese Cabbage or Bok Choy, which I personally believe to be the healthiest vegetable on earth. Steam or saute to maximize the cancer-fighting benefits of cabbage!

Reference: World's Healthiest Foods: Cabbage. The George Mateljan Foundation


priscilla said...

Kelly - cabbage always makes my poop smell like rotten eggs? Is this normal??

Kelly Strogen, MS, RD, LDN said...

Hi Priscilla,
Very good question. Yes, you may notice that you are gassier than normal and that things don't smell that pleasant. That is just the fiber getting broken down by bacteria- those of which produce gases and short chain fatty acids which are very good for colonic health. You are probably someone that needs to work up your cabbage intake- start small then work up each week. It should get better ;-)