The impressive health benefit of Red Cabbage
Did you know that red cabbage, along with other vegetables like cauliflower can help to reduces chronic inflammation?
Red cabbage is a nutrient-rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These play a significant role in protecting the skin barrier which is where Eczema sufferers are most physiologically vulnerable.
Red cabbage can be used in a variety of ways so check out the recipe ideas for interesting ways to add it to your diet.
In this article I discuss:
- Types of inflammation
- Specific nutrients in red cabbage that help fight inflammation
- 10 Red Cabbage recipes ideas
- Recovery and maintenance of chronic inflammation
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Should any type of inflammation be suppressed?
There is a type of inflammation that is the body’s signal for short-term stress and healing. For example in the case of injury, a minor cut, or mild burn.
It’s normal for there to be swelling as it’s the body’s way of telling you it’s responding to the injury and it is usually a signal of the start of the healing process. Of course, any long-term swelling or discoloration should be noted as a sign that something else could be wrong.
In the context of skin conditions like Eczema, the topic of inflammation refers to suppressing an inflammatory response not related to an external injury.
The term anti-inflammatory, in this context, refers to where that swelling (inflammation) decreases and a feeling of relief is induced, and the skin is visibly in a state of healing. Basically where the skin starts to calm down.
Reducing chronic inflammation
Red cabbage is rich in antioxidants and other compounds that can help fight inflammation. It’s also high in Vitamin C, it’s an antioxidant, so it helps protect against oxidative stress. It has been reported that a deficiency in Vitamin C can aggravate atopic dermatitis1 symptoms, something to keep in mind if you have this particular type of eczema2.
Red cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is a rich source of Carotenoids which are beneficial for reducing inflammation. It also contains Flavonoid antioxidants that assist with protecting against free radical damage.
The compounds in red cabbage reduces chronic inflammation by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are produced by the body to regulate processes such as blood clotting, platelet aggregation (blood clots), and pain perception. When the body produces too many, this can cause long-term inflammation.
Red cabbage can be used as an indicator
Red cabbage, like many red and purple fruits and vegetables, contain flavonoids called Anthocyanins. It is also found in many flowers. This pigment is what is used as a natural acid-base indicator (measure), meaning you can use red cabbage test pH3.
Anthocyanins also play an antioxidative role in fighting inflammation.
This pigment gives red cabbage – and other vegetables like tubers and fruits such as berries – its red and purple color. It’s extracted for use as a natural food colorant as well as for its antioxidant properties in improving eye, neurological health and non-communicable diseases4 ie. ones that are not spread through human-to-human transmission.
Research also shows that this antioxidant reduces the chronic inflammation associated with pleurisy and arthritic conditions.
Anthocyanins also help to lower blood pressure and generally reduces chronic inflammation in the body.
Nutrient density and the role it plays in anti-inflammation
Red cabbage is one of the most nutrient-rich foods available.
Red cabbage also contains an important group of plant compounds called brassica saponins, which have been shown to help prevent cancer by stimulating the body’s detoxifying enzymes.
Red cabbage is high in Vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health. One cup (100 grams) of shredded red cabbage provides more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.
Can red cabbage be cooked?
Yes, absolutely! In addition to being a very healthy raw food on its own merits, red cabbage can also be used as an ingredient in many recipes including soups, stews, and stir-fries. Below are cooked red cabbage recipes along with classic raw salads and toppings.
10 Red Cabbage recipes – get inspired to cook with this inflammation-fighting vegetable
1. Red cabbage salad
Make a standalone meal for lunch or even a light supper using red cabbage as the hero of a salad dish. Make it mayo-free by using a fresh salad dressing made with lemon juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, and herbs. The idea is to enjoy the color and crunch. You’ll get the maximum nutrient intake by eating it raw.
2. Red cabbage slaw for tacos, sandwiches, or burgers
This is a great craving swap. Place tangy red cabbage slaw over your taco filling as you would with lettuce. It works well over meat fillings – go for the grass-fed or organic type.
3. Add shredded red cabbage to stews
This is a hearty way to include cabbage in a hot main meal and it’s a great way to use leftover cabbage too. Simply add it to a pot with braised meat or veggies if you’re making a vegetarian version. Let it cook and simmer and allow it to absorb all the flavors of the other foods and spices. Remember to salt adequately.
4. Sauté shredded red cabbage as a standalone dish
To Sauté, red cabbage is cooked over medium heat with red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add a sweetener like a coconut sugar or maple syrup and toss to coat evenly. Cook until tender enough to serve or to your desired texture. You can eat it as is or add onions, mushrooms, or carrots. A simple and nutrient-dense dish.
Are you nervous about slicing cabbage or do you struggle to get a consistently thin shred?
I always say ‘safety first’ in the kitchen. In my opinion, this tool is much safer than a mandolin because you get a gripping tool with it. Always keep your fingertips away from blades. Using this is time-efficient, you get a consistent slice and it allows you to shred as many as you can. So it’s great for large quantities and meal prepping in advance.
5. Red cabbage slaw recipe with mayonnaise or yoghurt
Make a classic slaw using red cabbage with a dairy-free vegan mayo or cashew cream. Don’t be shy – make this healthier version as creamy and saucy as the original.
6. Red Cabbage soup base
If you love soup, this is the perfect way to include cabbage in a base.
Wondering if cooking red cabbage will turn soup red?
Red cabbage renders incredible, beautiful color and you can experiment with broth-style soups or blended ones. For the creamy version, blend your liquid for a beautiful, rich red-purple color, and top it with a dollop of cashew cream.
This is the only quality that doesn’t make red cabbage and green cabbage interchangeable. When cooking or rendering red cabbage it turns everything else with it, red or purple.
7. Puree it for a pasta or pizza base sauce
You can make a pasta dish that is healthier by making this sauce. All you need to do is cook down the cabbage in an instant pot. Then puree it in a blender or use the immersion kind. Once pureed, it’s ready for serving with any pasta (allergen-free). The trick is to season it well and highlight a particular flavor. I like fresh lemon-flavored pasta so I season it with fresh lemon juice at the end and make sure to add fresh garlic into the cooking of the cabbage.
8. Make red cabbage sauerkraut
This condiment recipe is filled with nutritional benefits and it’s good for gut health too. You’ll need to massage the cabbage for 5 minutes with sea salt to break it down and soften it. It requires a bit of patience and prep, but well worth the effort.
9. Use cooked red cabbage in place of lettuce wraps as a low-carb alternative
This can be a work lunch treat provided you keep it chilled. You’ll need to soften the leaves before wrapping your favorite fillings in them.
10. Asian red cabbage recipe – Mix raw shredded red cabbage into a stir-fry
It’s the speediest dish on the list. The flash-frying works well for red cabbage when you want to retain its gorgeous color and crunch. Shred the cabbage and add to any stir-fry. There’s no need to pre-season it as you will coat it with soy sauce as well as the other ingredients.
Chronic inflammation and the road to recovery
Red cabbage contains an array of Phytochemicals like Anthocyanins, Quercetin, and Kaempferol. They have anti-inflammatory properties meaning they suppress pro-inflammatory gene expression.
Quercetin in particular is a flavanol well-known for its anti-histamine effects. Histamine is the compound that inflames and aggrevates eczema.
Experiment with including red cabbage as a base ingredient in your existing recipes. That way you can incorporate all the nutritional benefits of this cruciferous vegetable, without having to source or invent new recipes.
This is the best part of nutritional cooking in that it challenges you to be versatile with your ingredients. I will always encourage you to prevent food wastage so it’s a great way to be sustainable.
Also, sometimes it’s ok to hide these foods in other recipes. Our palates vary from day to day and it’s fine if you don’t feel like eating the same foods every day.
Recovery and maintenance of inflammatory conditions
For Eczema or any skin condition, moisturization is key maintenance. While there is no permanent cure for Eczema, topical treatment, and daily maintenance should be balanced out with a healthy diet.
Aim for an eating plan that focuses on foods and ingredients that contain a good balance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Most importantly, make sure your key foods and ingredients are alkaline, this will be skin-soothing as well as gut healing.
I don’t recommend loading up on anti-inflammatory foods in every single meal just because you heard it’s good for you or that everyone’s doing it on social media.
As in nutritional cooking, make an informed choice that is right for your type of skin condition. Test what works for you, whether you do this through an elimination eating plan or simply watch for inflammatory reactions and record it for reference.
Red cabbage, as with all vegetables, is interesting to cook with and essential in your diet. It really has impressive health benefits and it’s incredibly versatile as you can see from all the red cabbage recipes listed.
Just be sure to keep it all balanced and in perspective. Get to know all the health benefits of red cabbage and how it can alleviate your inflammation. Now include this beautiful coloured food as much as you can in all your recipes!
If you liked this blog post, have a look at this article where I list more skin-soothing ingredients.
Would you like to see another skin inflammation post?
Let me know in the comments section, I value all feedback.
*cravenutritionalcooking.com does not give medical advice. Where there is a reference to it, the phrasing is merely used to illustrate a point or give context to food and cooking for nutrition information. It is not related to a specific condition or any specific individual. Always consult your healthcare professional for medical and dietetic advice before embarking on any type of eating plan or ingesting nutritional supplements.
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