Cabbages are one of the most recommended foods for weight loss. Not only are cabbages excellent sources of vitamin C, they are low in calories, carbohydrates, and fats with a very low Glycemic index which implies that this cruciferous vegetable does not raise your blood sugar. Instead, it will help regulate it.
Health benefits of cabbage
Apart from being a vitamin C-bomb, and a blood sugar regulator, a recent study carried out on over 57,000 adults in Denmark showed that adults who consumed cabbages among other foods were found to have the lowest incidence of type 2 diabetes.
It also turns out that cabbages to be an especially good source of sinigrin, a compound that had been widely researched and shows unique cancer prevention properties with respect to prostate, colon and bladder cancer.
Other remarkable health benefits of cabbage which have long been established in health research are its role in helping heal stomach ulcers (also known as peptic ulcers) and regulating the bacterial population of Helicobacter in the stomach which can become dangerous if present in large populations.
Cabbage (especially red cabbage) has been found to reduce total LDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol by binding its fiber-related nutrients with bile acids (specialized molecules that aid in the digestion and absorption of fat) for eventual excretion. This process uses up the extracted bile acids which your liver replaces by drawing upon your existing supply of cholesterol. As a result, your cholesterol levels drops down.
So you see, you have every reason to include cabbage in your diet. But if you want to enjoy the above-mentioned health benefits, it is crucial to cook your cabbage right to retain the nutrients optimally.
How to choose healthy cabbage
If you do not grow cabbage yourself and rely on store-bought ones, you want to make sure that you buy cabbage that is healthy and free of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Generally, fresh and healthy cabbage is firm and dense with shiny, crisp and colorful leaves. Any damage like cracks, bruises or blemishes to the outer leaves is a sign of worm invasion or decay in the inner core. Only a few leaves should be loose, the more loose leaves are attached to the skin, it is suggestive of an undesirable taste and texture.
It is recommended to always buy certified organically grown cabbage as these are generally exposed to contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals. If you cannot afford organic cabbage or have no access to it or you just cannot differentiate if the cabbage you buy from your local market is organic or not, make sure to wash your cabbage with apple cider vinegar for about 5 minutes and rinse well before you cook to reduce pesticides if any was used. Also, avoid buying shredded or already chopped cabbage as pre-cutting hours before cooking reduces the valuable vitamin C content of cabbage. If you need to store a half head of cabbage, cover it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. This will keep for about 2 weeks depending on the type of cabbage you bought.
How to cook cabbage to retain nutrients
Traditional methods of cooking this vegetable, include overcooking it in stews or one pot or boiling which make this dish watery and makes the cabbage lose vital nutrients. In order to promote optimal flavor and retain nutrients, it is best to cut or chop your cabbage, allow it to rest for 5 – 10 minutes before your sautée.This will bring out its flavor and makes it more enjoyable.
Here are three cooking guidelines backed by science:
- Minimize cooking time. Don’t cook cabbage for too long. 5 minutes is a good time limit to minimize nutrient loss.
- Minimize exposure to heat. High heat will destroy nutrients as well. Always cook on moderate heat.
- Minimize contact with water. Sautéeing or steaming cabbage with the use of little or no water helps to retain vitamin C.
It’s as simple as a,b,c to cook. Just add 1 cup of chicken, beef or vegetable broth in a skillet. Once the broth begins to boil, add shredded cabbage, cover and sauté for 5 minutes. Then enjoy.
The recipe I want to show you today is a more spicy cabbage recipe which is also easy to make and taste like stew, with an addition of shredded cabbage. I hope you will enjoy it. Please keeps those comments coming and let me know if you tried this recipe. Also, tag me at shape_up_african to get your food picture featured on my Instagram feed.
So let’s get cooking.
- 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
- A few spinach leaves, fresh (for color)
- 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Chicken bouillon cubes + salt to taste
- Habanero pepper (optional)
- Shred cabbage into small slices and let it sit for 5 - 10 mins to bring out the flavor. Then steam for 2 minutes if you have a steaming pot. If not no worries.
- In a pan or skillet, heat oil, add onions and glaze. Then add tomatoes and habaneros, fry well.
- Add steamed cabbage and sautée for 3 mins. If you cannot steam your cabbage add it to the onion-tomato mix and sautée for 5 - 7 mins.
- Add fresh spinach at the end. Sautée for 1 minute and serve with grilled chicken or eat it vegetarian.