Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, watercress, bok choy, arugula, radishes (including horseradish), and brussels sprouts, can potentially prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help to prevent lymphoma, boost your liver detox enzymes, target breast cancer stem cells, and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.
Beyond being a promising anticancer agent, sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation, manage type 2 diabetes, and was recently found to successfully help treat autism.
For all these reasons, cruciferous vegetables get their own spot on my Daily Dozen, which recommends at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables and at least two additional servings of other vegetables a day, cruciferous or otherwise.
Indeed, if you were to add only one thing to your diet, consider cruciferous vegetables. Less than a single serving a day of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, or kale may cut the risk of cancer progression by more than half.
Does it matter what kind of cabbage? Colorful foods are often healthier because they contain antioxidant pigments, whether it’s the beta-carotene that makes carrots and sweet potatoes orange, the lycopene antioxidant pigment that makes tomatoes red, or the anthocyanin pigments that make blueberries blue. The colors are the antioxidants. Red cabbage may contain eight times more antioxidants than green, for example. In fact, purple, or red, cabbage provides one of the single best nutritional bangs for your buck, so go for the brightest, deepest colors of cabbage.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. This image has been modified.
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