I love red or purple (ok purplish red) cabbage so much and will literally eat it any way – raw, cooked or fermented!  All cabbage is great but red has even more antioxidants and nutrients than green.  Here I am detailing the benefits of red cabbage in particular, and why your liver loves it. This gorgeous veggie gets its colour from a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and are super anti-oxidants.  It is a peppery vegetable which is also a member of the cruciferous (brassica) family of veggies. Our livers really love cruciferous vegetables and will thank you for eating them with improved detoxification.  They contain glucosinolates and these compounds protect the cells in our liver. They also contribute to the production of an enzyme called glutathione (only the most important antioxidant!!) which is important for many of our liver’s detoxification processes.

How can it support my health?

Your liver isn’t the only part of your body that will thank you for including red cabbage in your diet.  It contains nutrients that are great for your bones, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K and small amounts of Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc which our bones also need.

Your digestion will definitely appreciate the high fibre in cabbage which helps to keep the digestion moving and keep you regular!  Soluble fibre also feeds our good gut bacteria, which in turn keeps our immune system in good working order.  Fibre is prebiotic (i.e. it feeds our gut bacteria) but if we then ferment cabbage, as in Sauerkraut, then this actually works like a probiotic and replenishes our gut bacteria.

Even your heart will be delighted if you pick some cabbage for your plate – diets which contain a high amount of anthocyanins are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

Red cabbage also contains other nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin E, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B1 (Thiamin).   

In summary, the amazing nutrients in red cabbage, when eaten regularly and of course as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, can contribute to a reduced risk of cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease and can contribute to better sleep.

How can I prepare or cook it?

When deciding how to eat your vegetables, it is worth remembering that some nutrition is lost when we heat, steam or microwave.  This is even more notable with anthocyanin-rich plants.  So, my recipe for red cabbage slaw is a really good way to include raw cabbage but you can even just chop and add to any salad or use a cabbage leaf as a wrap for a delicious filling. 

Fermented cabbage is amazing and even a forkful every day will help those good bugs in your tummy.  You can slice thinly and add to a stirfry or this recipe for spicy red cabbage is just what you need in the winter – love it!

If you have any digestive issues with malabsorption (fructose related), raw cabbage may be hard for your tummy to digest, so cooked would be a better option for you.

*The symptoms of carbohydrate malabsorption include flatulence, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhoea and headache. If you experience these symptoms on a regular basis, it would be wise to get some help to heal your gut.  Remember we need our gut to absorb the wonderful nutrients from our food and to keep our immune system healthy.  In other words, if our gut is healthy, we are less at risk of serious illness.

Now that you are aware of the benefits of red cabbage and why your liver loves it, find out why our liver is so important here and check out the recipes at the links included above.  If you don’t already love it, give red cabbage a try and your health will thank you for it!

Lyn Sharkey Nutrition
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