Cabbage Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Cabbage

cabbage nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Cabbage has been a staple of northern European cuisine for centuries. And rightfully so, as it is a healthy, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, fiber-rich vegetable that can take on many different flavors, making it a versatile cooking ingredient. It is also one of the most inexpensive vegetables and keeps for a very long time.

There are several varieties of cabbage, including head cabbage, napa cabbage, and savoy cabbage. Typically, cabbage leaves are green, but red and purple cabbage are also available. Red or purple cabbage is a different strain of cabbage and maybe tougher than green cabbage. Most cabbage is available all year long, with peak season for savoy cabbage being from August through spring.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (89g) of raw chopped cabbage.

  • Calories: 22
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 16mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.2g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Sugars: 2.8g
  • Protein: 1.1g

Carbs in Cabbage

One cup of raw, chopped cabbage contains only 22 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 2.2 grams of fiber, and under 2.8 grams net carbs. Almost half of the carbohydrates found in cabbage come from fiber, making it a filling, heart-healthy food choice.

The glycemic effect of cabbage is minimal, meaning it doesn't raise your blood sugar. It doesn't have a measured glycemic index as it is a non-starchy vegetable. The estimated glycemic load for a 1/2 cup of cabbage is 1, which is low.

Fats in Cabbage

Cabbage has only a trace amount of fat and is cholesterol-free. As well, cabbage has tiny amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Protein in Cabbage

Cabbage has a minimal amount of protein. You should include other protein sources in your diet to meet your daily needs.

Micronutrients in Cabbage

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, a good source of folate, and a good source of manganese. Red cabbage has a different micronutrient content compared to green cabbage. Red cabbage provides twice the amount of iron as green cabbage and 10 times more vitamin A, but half as much vitamin K.

Health Benefits

Cabbage is a good source of fiber. Fiber, the indigestible part of carbohydrate, is an important nutrient in the diet as it helps to keep you full, can pull cholesterol away from the heart, regulates bowels, and maintains steady blood sugar. Studies have found that those who eat adequate amounts of fiber are at healthier weights and have a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

In addition, cabbage is one of the cruciferous vegetables shown to have anti-cancer properties. Studies suggest that ingesting three to five servings per week of these vegetables (including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens) can help protect from several types of cancer including prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancers. The reason for this may be because of how these vegetables activate certain enzymes in the liver, which bind to carcinogens.

The color of red cabbage is due to polyphenols including anthocyanins, which are phytonutrients and antioxidants. The carotenoids in red and green cabbage, along with vitamin A, contribute to eye health.

Common Questions

Why is coleslaw considered fattening?

Traditional coleslaw is typically made with sugar and mayonnaise, making it a high-calorie and high-fat food. However, homemade coleslaw, made with other ingredients such as low-fat Greek yogurt, may contain only one-third of the calories of traditional coleslaw. It is easy to make substitutions and additions to coleslaw so it has little sugar or fat.

Why does cabbage smell when being cooked?

If you're steaming or sauteing cabbage, you might notice an unpleasant smell in the air, similar to flatulence. This is because of the sulfur compounds in cabbage activated during the heating process. To minimize the smell, try splashing with a bit of acid, like lemon juice, to inhibit the activation.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Choose firm heads that are free of blemishes. The cores should not be dried out. Keep cabbage wrapped whole in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Cutting it before use speeds up the spoiling process.

Cabbage can be eaten raw and shredded like coleslaw or used in soups and stews, or you can drink it as a juice. It can be steamed, stir-fried, or braised. You can also steam the leaves and use them as a wrap for meat or another filling as a low-carbohydrate meal option.

Red cabbage can turn blue when you cook it. To keep the red color, add an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice.

Allergies and Interactions

Cabbage food allergies are very rare, but isolated cases have been reported. There can be a food-pollen syndrome if you have hay fever due to mugwort pollen. Cabbage, broccoli, and related vegetables have proteins similar to those in mugwort pollen and can cause a reaction when you eat them. You may feel a tingling on your lips and tongue. In extremely rare cases, this can progress to a swollen throat or anaphylaxis.

Cabbage is moderately high in vitamin K and might interact with Coumadin (warfarin) and reduce its blood-thinning effect. When you are on blood-thinners, discuss with your doctor which foods you should limit or avoid.

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Article Sources

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