Antioxidants in Cabbage

Cabbage is a healthy food that is available in a number of different varieties and cultivars. Cabbage is healthy because of the high fibre and low sugar content which support optimal blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance developing. This makes cabbage a great way to prevent weight gain and diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, cabbage also contains a number of phytochemicals, and many of these are antioxidants which have their own health effects. For example, cabbages contain vitamin C, and the amount varies between cultivars and between individual cabbages. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and can improve extracellular antioxidant defences and increase cellular glutathione levels. Lutein is another antioxidant present in cabbages that belongs to the carotenoid family of nutrients and lutein may protect eyesight. Cabbages are not high in vitamin E, but contain reasonable amounts of alpha-tocopherol, the most important antioxidant for cell membranes. Lastly, polyphenols are also present in cabbages, as they are in all plant foods. Of the polyphenols in cabbages, anthocyanins in red cabbage are the most noticeable as they provide them with their red colour. Eating a range of cabbage varieties and cooking cabbage to help release the antioxidants from the cells is perhaps the best strategy to optimise antioxidant intake from them. 

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Singh, J., Upadhyay, A.K., Bahadur, A., Singh, B., Singh, K.P. and Rai, M. 2006. Antioxidant phytochemicals in cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata). Scientia Horticulturae. 108(3): 233-237

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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