Cabbage is a leafy green, red (purple), or white (pale green) biennial vegetable crop cultivated for its dense-leaved heads as an annual vegetable crop. It is related to broccoli and cauliflower (var. botrytis); Brussels sprouts (var. gemmifera); and Savoy cabbage (B. oleracea var. oleracea). It is a descendant of wild cabbage (B. oleracea var. oleracea) and belongs to the “cole crops” or brassicas (var. sabauda). Cabbage heads are usually havested in the first year of the plant’s life cycle, but seed plants are allowed to grow for a second year and must be kept separate from other cole crops to avoid cross-pollination.
Cabbage seedlings have thin taproot and cotyledons that are cordate (heart-shaped). The original leaves are ovate (egg-shaped) and have a lobed petiole. The mature vegetative stage of the plant is 40–60 cm (16–24 in) tall in the first year, and 1.5–2.0 m (4 ft 11 in–6 ft 7 in) tall while flowering in the second year. Heads weigh between 0.5 and 4 kg (1 and 8 lb), with smaller heads developed by faster-growing, earlier-maturing varieties. The majority of cabbages have thick, alternating leaves with wavy or lobed margins to highly dissected margins; some species have a waxy bloom on the leaves.
Various grown cabbage varieties come in a range of sizes, colours, and leaf textures. Crinkled-leaf, loose-head savoys and smooth-leaf firm-head cabbages are the most common leaf types, while the color range includes white, greens, and purples. There are oblate, oval, and pointed shapes.
Types (Varieties) of Cabbage
Cabbages come in different types of varieties which are as stated below:
- Green Cabbage
- Savoy Cabbage
- Red Cabbage
- Napa Cabbage
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
The most common type of cabbage used in salads and slaws is green cabbage. Green cabbage heads have densely packed, moist-looking leaves and feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size).
Curly cabbage is another name for savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbages have ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves that make them one of the most desirable cabbages available. Although its uses are similar to those of green or red cabbage, the leaves are more loosely layered and less tightly packed. It’s great thinly sliced in salads, stir-fried quickly, or braised in butter. Savoy cabbage is a bit more tender than other cabbages and makes a nice fresh and crunchy wrap.
Red cabbage is similar to green cabbage except that it is red. It’s a beautiful magenta, to be exact. While red cabbage heads are smaller than green cabbage heads, look for closely packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that are heavy for their size. Red cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked, thinly sliced in salads like Red Cabbage Slaw. It’s also delicious pickled and served alongside fish tacos. When red cabbage is cooked, it turns a peculiar blue hue. When cooking, add some acid (vinegar or lemon juice are popular choices) to counteract this effect.
Napa cabbage is also known as celery cabbage or Chinese cabbage. Napa cabbage has long, light green leaves that flower from dense, white stalks, unlike head cabbages. It resembles a cross between romaine lettuce and pale Swiss chard in color. It has a moderate taste with a peppery kick, and it’s perfect in salads or stir-fries.
The leaves of bok choy are distinct and emerge from a central stem. It resembles Swiss chard in appearance, but with pale green stalks and leaves. It has a vivid, mild cabbage taste. Bok choy is widely used in stir-fries, but braising brings out the richness of the vegetable. If you like, you can cook baby bok choy whole, but all bok choy is better when the leaves are divided and cooked loose.
Brussels sprouts are small cabbages that are generally sold loose, but if you spot them on the stalk, remember that they can stay in the refrigerator for several weeks. Trim the ends and cut any dark green leaves from each sprout before making roasted brussels sprouts, steamed brussels sprouts, or bacon-wrapped brussels sprouts.
Historical Background (Origin) of Cabbage
Although cabbage has a long history, the many varieties of leafy greens classified as “brassicas” make it difficult to pinpoint its exact origins. Brassica oleracea, a likely wild ancestor of cabbage, is tolerant of salt but not of encroachment by other plants, and therefore tends to survive on rocky cliffs in cold, moist coastal environments, retaining water and nutrients in its somewhat thickened, turgid leaves. However, genetic analysis indicates that this population is feral, originating from plants that escaped from fields and gardens. B. oleracea and other closely related kale vegetables (cabbages, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) constitute one of three ancestral lines from which all other Brassica species evolved, according to the triangle of U theory of Brassica species evolution and relationships.
Cabbage, like other Near Eastern crops like lentils and summer wheat, was possibly domesticated later in history. Multiple broadly contemporaneous domestications of cabbage may have occurred in Europe due to the vast variety of crops produced from the wild B. oleracea. While recent linguistic and genetic data suggests a Mediterranean root for cultivated brassicas, nonheading cabbages and kale were actually the first to be domesticated, perhaps by the Celts of central and western Europe, before 1000 BC.
Although unidentified brassicas were part of the extremely conservative, unchanging Mesopotamian garden repertory, it is thought that the ancient Egyptians did not grow cabbage, which is not native to the Nile valley, despite the word shaw’t being translated as “cabbage” in Papyrus Harris from the time of Ramesses III. According to Theophrastus, the ancient Greeks had several cabbage types, but it is uncertain if they were related to today’s cabbage or to one of the other Brassica crops. The Greeks called the headed cabbage variety krambe, and the Romans called it brassica or olus; the free, leafy variety (kale) was called raphanos in Greek, and caulis in Latin. Under the influence of Greek krambe, which had been a common plant to the Ptolemies’ Macedonian predecessors, Ptolemaic Egyptians referred to cole crops as gramb. Egyptian artisans and children were consuming cabbage and turnips, among a number of other vegetables and pulses, by the early Roman period.
Pliny was familiar with Chrysippus of Cnidos’ cabbage treatise, but it has not survived. The Greeks believed that cabbages and grapevines were mutually antagonistic, and that planting cabbage too close to the vine would impart its unwelcome odor to the grapes; this Mediterranean antipathy still exists today.
Brassica was considered a table luxury by some Romans, though Lucullus thought it unfit for the senatorial table. Cato the Elder, a traditionalist who advocated for a simple Republican life, ate his cabbage cooked or raw and dressed with vinegar; he said it surpassed all other vegetables and approved of three varieties; he also gave directions for its medicinal use, which included rinsing infants with the cabbage-urine. eater’s Pompeii cabbage, Cumae cabbage, and Sabellian cabbage were among the seven varieties listed by Pliny the Elder. The Pompeii cabbage is “taller, and has a thick stock near the root, but grows thicker between the leaves, which are scantier and narrower, but their tenderness is a valuable quality,” according to Pliny. Columella mentions the Pompeii cabbage in his De Re Rustica. Apicius provides several cauliculi, or tender cabbage shoots, recipes. Gout, headaches, and the symptoms of poisonous mushroom ingestion were among the medicinal claims made by the Greeks and Romans for their cabbage varieties. Because of the vine’s dislike, it appeared that eating cabbage would keep one from becoming extremely drunk. Cabbage was mentioned in antiquity’s materia medica as well as at the table: Dioscorides mentions two types of coleworts with medical uses, the cultivated and the wild, in the first century AD, and his opinions were paraphrased in herbals right up until the 17th century.
Cabbage is mentioned in Anthimus’ De observatione ciborum (“On the Observance of Foods”), a Greek doctor at Theodoric the Great’s court, and cabbage is listed among the vegetables directed to be cultivated in Charlemagne’s Capitulare de villis, written c. 771-800 and guiding the governance of the royal estates of Charlemagne.
The Anglo-Saxons in Britain cultivated cawel. When round-headed cabbages first appeared in 14th-century England, they were referred to as cabaches and caboches, words derived from Old French and used to refer to the ball of unopened leaves. However, a contemporaneous recipe that begins, “Take cabbages and quarter them, and seethe them in good broth,” also refers to the tightly headed cabbage.
Cabbage was a common staple of the poor in the High Middle Ages, as evidenced by manuscript illuminations, and cabbage seeds appear on the seed list of purchases for King John II of France while imprisoned in England in 1360. Cabbage was also a common staple of the rich: in the lean year of 1420, the “Bourgeois of Paris” noted that “poor people ate no bread, nothing but cabbages and turnips.” In his botanical treatise De Natura Stirpium, published in 1536, French naturalist Jean Ruel made the first explicit mention of head cabbage, referring to it as capucos coles (“head-coles”).
Sultan Selim III of Istanbul wrote a humorous ode to cabbage, saying that the halva feast would be incomplete without it. Cabbage was one of many vegetable crops brought to India by Portuguese colonizing merchants who developed trading routes between the 14th and 17th centuries. In 1775, Carl Peter Thunberg claimed that cabbage was unknown in Japan.
In Germany, France, and the Low Countries, several cabbage varieties were introduced, including those that are still widely grown today. German gardeners invented the savoy cabbage in the 16th century. Cabbage was a traditional food staple in the 17th and 18th centuries in countries like Germany, England, Ireland, and Russia, and pickled cabbage was popular. During long ship voyages, Dutch, Scandinavian, and German sailors consumed sauerkraut to escape scurvy.
Cabbage was first introduced to the Americas by Jacques Cartier in 1541–42, and it was most likely cultivated by the early English colonists, despite the absence of recorded evidence of its presence until the mid-17th century. It was extensively cultivated by explorers and native American Indians by the 18th century. Cabbage seeds arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 and were cultivated on Norfolk Island the same year. By the 1830s, it had become a popular vegetable among Australians, and it was frequently seen at Sydney Markets.
Nutritional (Composition) Value of Cabbage
|Saturated fat 0 g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 18 mg||0%|
|Potassium 170 mg||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6 g||2%|
|Dietary fiber 2.5 g||10%|
|Sugar 3.2 g|
|Protein 1.3 g||2%|
|Vitamin A||1%||Vitamin C||60%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||5%|
|*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage is frequently ignored, without considering its high nutrient value. Though it resembles lettuce, it is actually a member of the Brassica family, which also contains broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Vitamins and minerals abound in cabbage. Here are a couple of cabbage’s health benefits:
- Rich in Nutrients
- Inhibits Inflammation
- Fortifies the Body with Vitamin C
- Improves Digestion
- Enhances Cardiovascular Health
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Lower Cholesterol Levels
- Provides the Body with Vitamin K
Rich in Nutrients
Cabbage has an impressive nutrient profile despite its low calorie content. In fact, 1 cup (89 grams) of raw green cabbage contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 22
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin K: 85% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 54% of the RDI
- Folate: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Calcium: 4% of the RDI
- Potassium: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI
Other micronutrients found in cabbage include vitamin A, iron, and riboflavin in small amounts. As previously stated, it is high in vitamin B6 and folate, both of which are necessary for a variety of bodily functions, including energy metabolism and normal nervous system function. Cabbage is also high in fiber and contains potent antioxidants such as polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Antioxidants defend the body against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have an odd number of electrons. They can harm your cells if their levels rise too high. Cabbage is particularly high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent heart disease, cancer, and vision loss.
Inflammation isn’t always a negative experience. In fact, your body uses the inflammatory response to protect itself from infection and to speed up the healing process. Acute inflammation like this is a normal reaction to an injury or infection. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, occurs over time and is linked to a variety of diseases, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation.
Fortifies the Body with Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that serves many important roles in the body. For instance, it’s needed to make collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen gives the skin structure and flexibility, and it’s necessary for the bones, muscles, and blood vessels to function properly. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods. It’s a strong anti-oxidant. It has been studied extensively for its potential cancer-fighting properties. Vitamin C protects the body from free radical damage, which has been linked to a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer. A diet rich in vitamin C-rich foods has been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, according to research.
Fiber-rich cabbage is the way to go if you want to improve your digestive health. Insoluble fiber, a type of carbohydrate that can’t be broken down in the intestines, is abundant in this crunchy vegetable. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools and encourages regular bowel movements, which keeps the digestive system healthy. It contains a lot of soluble fiber, which has been shown to boost the number of good bacteria in the gut. Fiber is the primary fuel source for beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria have essential roles to play, such as protecting the immune system and developing vitamins K2 and B12. Eating more cabbage is a perfect way to keep the digestive tract in fine condition.
Anthocyanins, which are present in red cabbage, are potent antioxidants. They are responsible for the bright purple hue of this tasty vegetable. Plant pigments called anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid family. A variety of studies have linked consuming foods high in this pigment to a lower risk of heart disease. Increased dietary anthocyanin consumption has also been found to lower blood pressure and increased the risk of coronary heart disease. Inflammation is believed to play a part in the development of heart disease, and anthocyanins’ anti-inflammatory effects are likely to be responsible for their defensive effect. Cabbage contains over 36 different varieties of powerful anthocyanins, making it a better option for heart protection.
More than one billion people worldwide have high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Patients with high blood pressure are often recommended by physicians to reduce their salt consumption. Latest literature shows, however, that increasing the dietary potassium intake is just as critical for lowering blood pressure. Potassium is a crucial mineral and electrolyte for the body’s proper working. One of its key purposes is to combat the influence of sodium in the bloodstream, which serves to regulate blood pressure. Potassium assists in the excretion of excess sodium into the urine. It also relaxes the walls of blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. Although both sodium and potassium are important for good health, modern diets tend to be sodium-rich and potassium-deficient. Red cabbage is a healthy source of potassium, supplying 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance in a 2-cup (178-gram) serving. Eating more potassium-rich cabbage is a pleasant way to decrease high blood pressure and keep it in a safe range.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like material that can be present in all of the body’s cells. Some people assume that all cholesterol is unhealthy, but it is important for the body to function properly. Cholesterol is needed for essential processes such as proper digestion and the synthesis of hormones and vitamin D. People with high cholesterol, on the other hand, are more likely to have heart disease, particularly if their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels are high. Cabbage contains two components that have been found to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels.
Cabbage contains soluble fiber, which has been found to help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the intestine and blocking it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Cabbage contains a lot of soluble fiber. In truth, approximately 40% of the fiber in cabbage is soluble.
Phytosterols are chemicals present in cabbage. They are plant compounds that mimic cholesterol in composition and suppress LDL cholesterol by stopping cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. It has been discovered that increasing phytosterol intake by 1 gram per day will suppress LDL cholesterol levels by up to 5%.
Provides the Body with Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a category of fat-soluble vitamins that play a number of roles in the human body. These vitamins are classified into two types.
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found primarily in plant sources.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone): Found in animal sources and some fermented foods. It is also produced by bacteria in the large intestine.
Cabbage is an outstanding source of vitamin K1, supplying 85 percent of the daily recommended dose in just one cup (89 grams). Vitamin K1 is a vital nutrient with numerous functions in the body. One of its primary functions is to act as a cofactor for enzymes involved in blood clotting. The blood would lose its ability to clot properly without vitamin K, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.