Cabbages are one of the oldest vegetables around. It is a strong, sturdy and abundant vegetable which continues to be a dietary staple available in all countries and cultures. It is easy to grow, tolerates the cold and keeps well. The word cabbage derives from the Latin word caput, meaning "head" and is related to brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens.

There are many variety of cabbage, each provides unique and strong health benefits. The three most common types are green, red and savoy. Green is the most popular and commonly used where as red cabbage contains the highest level of antioxidant level.

Cabbage is also one of the healthiest vegetables, containing high levels of vitamins and chemicals that inhibit tumor growth and protect cells against free radicals. Nutritional benefits of cabbage include:

  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. Cabbage contains a high content of fibre and fibre helps our intestines to stay healthy by increasing our transit movements.
  • Men who eat cabbage more than once a week, cut their odds of getting colon cancer by 66%.
  • Cabbage contains chemicals that speeds up estrogen metabolism, this is suggested to help reduce the incidence of breast, uterus and ovaries cancer and suppress growth of polys, a prelude to colon cancer.
  • Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C (more than oranges) and beta carotene. These antioxidants help to fight free radicals in our body which increases the aging process. Also the high amount of beta carotene also may cut the risk of cataracts.
  • Eating raw cabbage is a good source of folic acid, which lowers the risk of having babies with spina bifida.
  • Cabbage also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, alleviate rheumatisms and skin problems.
  • Cabbage contains the fewest calories and least fat of any vegetable.
  • Drinking fresh raw cabbage juice can alleviate stomach ulcers. Also fresh raw cabbage juice is effective against fungus infections of the feet and skin because of its sulphur content.
  • Contains chlorine and sulphur, which help to cleanse mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines.
  • Cabbage nourishes the spleen-pancreas, regulates the stomach, and relieves abdominal spasms and pain. It treats constipation, the common cold, mental depression, and irritability.
  • Cabbage lowers serum cholesterol (lowers low density lipoprotein which causes hardening and narrowing of arteries).
  • Cabbage boosts the immune system ability to produce more antibodies.
  • The outer, greener cabbage leaves contain more chlorophyll, vitamin E & A, iron and calcium than the inner, pale leaves.

Beware that cabbage reduces absorption of iodine. If you do eat more than 2 to 3 times a week of cabbage, be sure you do not suffer from thyroid disorders and ensure your intake of iodine. Consult your doctor before eating cabbage.  

How to select and store cabbage

  • Keep the cabbage cold, this helps retain the vitamin C content
  • Fresh cabbage will have a generous amount of outer leaves.
  • Check the bottom of the cabbage to be sure the leaves are not beginning to separate from the stem (an indicator of age).
  • Look for stems that are healthy looking, closely trimmed, and are not dry or split.
  • Choose a firm, compact, heavy, large head.
  • Leaves should look fresh and unblemished, showing no evidence of damage or insect bites/ worm damage.
  • Avoid cabbages that have discolored veins
  • Store the whole cabbages in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. (remember the older the cabbage gets, the stronger the flavour and odor will be)
  • Cabbage will loose freshness fast once cut, so use within a few days.
  • Cooked cabbage may be refrigerated in a covered container for up to four days.

Cooking/ preparation advice

  • When cooking cabbage, keep it to a minimum. Excess heat treatment of cabbage is destructive to its vitamins B and C content. Under no circumstances should the water, in which the cabbage is boiled, be thrown away. It contains many nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosohate and magnesium.
  • Do not wash the cabbage until ready to eat. Avoid slicing or shredding cabbage in advanced. This will cause vitamin C to be lost.
  • Do not cook cabbage in an aluminum pot as it causes chemical reaction that discolour the vegetable and alter its flavour. As cabbage contains mustard oils that break down into a variety of smelly sulfur compounds, when the cabbage is heated.

Cabbage can be eaten raw, shredded, boiled, steamed or even fried. It is a delicious, vitalizing, light, good for your heart and an excellent source of anticarcinogenic phytonutrients. So cabbage isn’t as plain and boring as you think, it is in a world of its self with nutrition value.

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Benefits of Certified Organic Beetroot

Posted on September 26, 2006 by Sarmaad

Did you know that beetroot tastes wonderful and is extremely good for your health?

Well, beetroot contains no fat, not many calories and is a great source of fibre, antioxidants and group B vitamins. Below are some facts that you may not know about beetroot:

  • Beetroot also contains a significant amount of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
  • The leafy green part of beetroot is an excellent source of folate, iron, calcium, beta carotene, iron and potassium, all of which are great for women who are planning a pregnancy.
  • Beetroot contains more sugar than sweet corn, making it one of the sweetest vegetables around.
  • As beetroot contains a lot of sugar, it does have a higher GI (Glycaemic Index) than many other vegetables, falling into the medium category (Range 56 to 69).
  • Beetroot is a good source of anthocyanadins, a natural antioxidant that contributes to violet red colour.
  • The minerals and photochemicals in beetroot help to resist infection, boost cellular intake of oxygen and treat blood, liver and immune system disorders.
  • Beetroot stimulates the immune system by improving cell respiration and tissue oxygenation, by encouraging the production of new blood cells. This keeps the heart, muscles and nerves in good condition.
  • Beetroot juice alleviates anaemia, constipation, disorders of the bladder and kidneys.
  • Beetroot also has spleen and gall bladder cleansing properties.
  • Beetroot improves the functions of the liver by stimulating the regeneration of liver tissue and by stimulating the metabolism of dietary fats within the liver.
  • Beetroot is used in the treatment of cancer, skin problems, chronic infections, inflammatory bowel disease and both in the treatment and prevention of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Beetroot contains a high amount nitrogeneous compound betaine. In the diet, betaine rich foods are pharmacologically active and promote the synthesis of the mood enhancing chemical serotonin, which relaxes the mind. Betaine also helps in the cleansing of the stomach and the intestine.
  • Be careful to avoid excess beetroot consumption as this may cause you to feel nauseous or have instant diarrhea.
The nutritional benefits of beetroot are extensive, and include; dietary fibre, important for digestive health, cancer-fighting antioxidants, a powerful nutritional tonic and blood builder rich in vitamins and minerals, and folate, which helps make red blood cells, and iron which is crucial for providing energy and oxygen to all the cells in the body.

Now that we know a little bit more about beetroot lets take a look at the best ways to store them, what to look out for when choosing beetroot and how they can be prepared:
  • By removing the leafy tops from a beetroot (leaving approx. 5cm of stem) and storing them in an unsealed plastic bag, their storage life can be extended to weeks or even several months in the refrigerator.
  • The leaves should be crisp, fresh looking and not too long or thick (a bit limp is ok as the leaf deteriorate quickly) and should be used within a day or two.
  • When buying beetroot they should be firm with a smooth, undamaged surface, deep purple in colour, with firm stems.
  • To preserve the beetroots colour and nutrients, gently wash to remove soil particles. Heavy scrubbing may damage the skin and cause bleeding. Do not remove the skin or root until ready to prepare.
  • When cooking beetroot make sure that you leave some stalk in tack, this will help stop the beetroot from losing its colour and hold in the nutrients.
  • Beetroot can be peeled, steamed, cooked, pickled, shredded raw, boiled or roasted. Eaten hot or cold. It can be prepared whole, cubed or grated. It can be eaten in soups, main courses and desserts.
  • Beetroot leaves can be steamed, boiled, put in stir fries and cooked.
Beetroot is a very versatile vegetable and overall it is fantastic for your health. Below is a very healthy recipe for a BEETROOT HUMMUS

Beetroot Hummus

4 medium beetroot
1 ½ cups cooked chick peas
3 tablesoons tahini
½ cups olive oil
¼ cup water
½ teas ground cumin
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teas lemon juice

Boil beetroot in a large saucepan over a gentle heat until tender aprox. 25 to 30 mins. Allow to cool. Peel. Place in a food processor or blender with the rest of the ingredients and process or blend until smooth. Serve on dried biscuits or with sticks of celery, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower etc.

This recipe is taken from the ALLERGY CONNECTION COOKBOOK, compiled by Sue Litchfield. Copies of this book are available to purchase from our website. theorganicgrocer.com.au

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