A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, the cabbage can be found in numerous forms which include spring, flower, red, savoy and head cabbage. All the above varieties are rich in Vitamin C, folate, beta carotene and fibre. Apart from being one of the most commonly eaten vegetables around the world, it has also been popular in traditional medicine for its healing powers, which have been confirmed by extensive scientific research.
Every 100 gm serving of cabbage consumed raw provides the body with 26 calories, 2 gm of fibre, 270 mg of Potassium, 52 mg of calcium, 49 mg of Vitamin C, 385 mcg of beta carotene and 75 mcg of folate.
 Uses in Traditional Medicine
The cabbage has always been used in folk medicine in the west for many centuries to help cure digestive and lung disorders as well as aches and pains. The leaves were also applied externally to treat wounds, ulcers, mastitis, inflamed joints and acne. Cabbage was also used to prevent Migraine as well as treat fluid retention. In oriental medicine, cabbage is used to cure constipation and treat conditions which cause the discharge of yellow mucus.
 Healing Properties
Breast and Prostate Cancer -- Phytonutrients in cabbage known as indoles help enzymes that can break down hormones that cause breast as well as prostrate cancer.
Bacterial Infections -- Cabbage has traditionally been used as an effective treatment for bacterial infections. Scientists attribute this to the phytonutrients known as glucosinolates that are found in the cabbage.
Peptic Ulcers -- In the past four to five decades, cabbage has been established as an effective cure for stomach ulcers. Scientist attribute this healing quality to the substance known as S-methylcyseine sulphoxide.
Mastitis -- The anti-inflammatory properties of cabbage help in relieving the pain caused by mastitis and engorged breast during breast feeding. The middle rib of the cabbage leaf should be removed, the leaves mildly crushed and then applied to the skin directly to bring about a soothing effect.
Cardiac Problems -- Red cabbage is very rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Research suggests that higher intakes of this antioxidant in one’s diet are associated with lower levels of heart disease in men.
 Consumption and Storage
A 75 gm serving of cabbage supplies the human body with the enough vitamin C to meet the body's daily requirement. If consumed two to three times a week, it can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. When buying cabbage look for crisp, firm cabbage, that feels dense or seems heavy for its size. Ideally store cabbage in plastic bag or some sort of wrapping in the refrigerator and it should stay fresh for several days. While consuming cabbage is most nutritious when consumed raw. Before preparing remove any wilted or discolored leaves. It can be steamed, cooked in the microwave or had boiled in minimum amounts of water so as to preserve the water soluble and heart sensitive vitamin C.
People suffering from thyroid problems should avoid having too much cabbage as the vegetable contains a natural substance called “goitrogen” which hinders the proper functioning of the thyroid glands.
- The Complete Guide, Healing Foods, Amanda Ursell, published by Dorling Kindersley