Red Cabbage: A Disease-Fighting Veggie With 36 Anti-Cancer Properties

Red cabbage or purple cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that can be deliciously enjoyed in its raw and cooked form. It’s often eaten raw in salads, steamed, braised or sautéed with other vegetables.
As compared to green cabbage, this red veggie is more nutritious and healthier. It is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and all the other essential nutrients.

Red Cabbage And Its Anti-cancer Properties

In a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, results revealed that red cabbage contains 36 different varieties of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid which is naturally found in food and responsible for the varied colors (red, purple, and blue) of flowers, vegetables, or fruits.

Anthocyanins have antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. These natural pigments in the plant kingdom have the ability to modulate the activity of multiple targets involved in carcinogenesis through direct interaction or modulation of gene expression and can also inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Some of these anthocyanins even have twice the antioxidant effect of vitamin C.

For the study, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers fed 12 volunteers a carefully controlled diet that contained either 2/3, 1 1/3 or 2 cups of cooked red cabbage per meal. For three days, the volunteers ate two meals per day. At the end of the study, experts have found that volunteers who ate the largest serving of cabbage had absorbed the most anthocyanins. Furthermore, they were also able to identify the 36 different varieties of anthocyanins in the red cabbage that are responsible for its range of health benefits.

In a separate study conducted by Japanese researchers, data showed that the chemicals (anthocyanins) can help modify the functioning of fat cells and possible fight various symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a medical term for a collection of symptoms that lead to heart disease and diabetes. This condition includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Other Health Benefits Of Anthocyanins

Heart Health – improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar metabolism, as well as fight oxidative stress (a process known to play a role in heart disease).

Brain Health – may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss.

Protect Against Diabetes – may lower blood glucose by improving insulin resistance, protecting β-cells, increasing secretion of insulin, and reducing the digestion of sugars in the small intestine.

Ward Off Colds And Flu – In a 2009 laboratory study reported in Phytochemistry, anthocyanins in elderberry were found to bind to the H1N1 swine flu virus, blocking its ability to infect host cells.

Aside from red cabbage, anthocyanins are also found in high concentrations in blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, aubergine (in the skin), cranberries and cherries.