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Cabbage

 

The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that "It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables."The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length.

Cabbage leaves often have a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The occasionally sharp or bitter taste of cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of riboflavin. The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called "cabbage head" is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes. It is the principal ingredient in coleslaw.

Cabbage is often added to soups or stews. Cabbage soup is popular in Central and eastern Europe, and cabbage is an ingredient in some kinds of borscht. Garbure (from Provenšal garburo) is a thick soup of cabbage or other vegetables with bacon. Cabbage may be an ingredient in kugel, a baked pudding served as a side dish or dessert. Cabbage is also used in many popular dishes in India. Boiling tenderizes the leaves and releases sugars, which leads to the characteristic "cabbage" aroma. Boiled cabbage has become stigmatized because of its strong cooking odor and the belief that it causes flatulence. Boiled cabbage as an accompaniment to meats and other dishes can be an excellent source of vitamins and dietary fiber. It is often prepared and served with boiled meat and other vegetables as part of a boiled dinner.

Nutritional Information and Uses

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a low calorie food.

It is a source of indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, a compound used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death.

In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.

Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers.

Effects on Thyroid Gland

Cabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).

Books about Cabbage
 

More nutritional data

Humpty Dumpty Health Book
Humpty Dumpty's Guide to Healthy Eating for Kids

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