While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety, red cabbage offers more nutritional benefits as well as a hearty, robust flavor. Red cabbage contains a type of group of phytochemicals or compounds found in plant foods with disease-fighting properties known, collectively, as polyphenols. Polyphenols may offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Red cabbage is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber and a rich source of several vitamins.
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Basic Nutrient Stats
One cup of raw red cabbage, chopped, or about 89 g provides 27 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 24 milligrams of sodium. Red cabbage is rich in several vitamins, including vitamins A, C and K, as well as the minerals potassium and manganese. Red cabbage, in addition to polyphenols, red cabbage is rich in beta-carotene, which offers antioxidant benefits.
One cup of raw, chopped red cabbage provides 993.2 international units of vitamin A, meeting 19 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV, for this nutrient. Most of its vitamin A is in the form of beta-carotene -- the form found in most brightly-colored vegetables and fruits. Vitamin A enhances immunity, aids in growth and development and promotes healthy eyesight. One cup of this veggie offers 50.7 milligrams of vitamin C, or 84 percent of the DV, and 40 micrograms of vitamin K, or 56 percent of the DV. Vitamin C enhances immune system function, promotes gum health and aids in wound healing and collagen production. Vitamin K is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and blood clotting.
One cup of raw red cabbage, chopped, provides 216.3 milligrams of potassium, or 9 percent of the DV, and 0.217 milligrams of manganese, or 10 percent of the DV. Many foods, particularly meats, dairy products and produce, are rich in potassium and cabbage is no exception. Potassium, a major mineral, is important for regulating heartbeat and blood pressure as well as promoting fluid balance within the body. Manganese, a trace mineral, is involved in energy metabolism, or converting carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy for cells to utilize.
Red cabbage is rich in a particular polyphenol group called anthocyanins. A 3-ounce serving of raw red cabbage provides 196.5 milligrams of polyphenols -- 28.3 milligrams of which are anthocyanins. The anthocyanin and vitamin C content of red cabbage is much greater than that of green cabbage. According to Ronald Wrolstad, Oregon State University professor of food science and technology, experimental evidence exists that shows certain anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.
Preparation and Cooking
Remove the outer leaves of the head of cabbage and, even though the inside of cabbage is typically clean, you may still wish to clean it to remove any leftover debris. To do so, cut the inner head into chunks and rinse. You may slice, chop or shred this vegetable prior to cooking, but be aware that over-cooking vegetables, such as red cabbage, destroys many of the vitamins and other beneficial compounds. To retain the most nutrients, it is best to cook in a small amount of water. Light steaming is an effective cooking method.