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Health Benefits of Green Cabbage

Green cabbage is full of nutritional richness that helps us stay healthy and fight off various diseases. It belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables which are full of nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), green cabbage is a rich source of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and magnesium. [1]

Apart from high water content, green cabbage is also a good source of energy, fiber, protein, folic acid and vitamin C. The presence of vitamin C gives it the richness offered by dietary supplements at large. The active phytochemicals found in green cabbage help against diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. It also improves digestion and immunity. [2]

Green Cabbage as a Source of Vitamin C

Green cabbage owes a lot of its health benefits to vitamin C. The National Institute of Health (NIH) signifies the role of vitamin C in maintaining good health. [3] Also known as ascorbic acid, this is a water-soluble vitamin which is required by the human body for carrying out different tasks including metabolism of proteins, synthesis of neurotransmitters and structural protein collagen. Collagen serves as an essential component for connective tissues and plays a vital role in wound healing and speedy damage recovery. Similarly vitamin C helps in the strengthening of the immune system to fight off infections.

Vitamin C in green cabbage also has antioxidant properties which help the body fight against damage caused by free radicals. This prevents various diseases attributed to oxidative stress including cardiac disease and cancers.

Eating green cabbage regularly can help in maintaining optimal vitamin C intake which ensures good health. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to various diseases and complications such as poor wound healing, impaired collagen synthesis, weakening of connective tissues, joint pain, anemia, scurvy and capillary fragility.

Green Cabbage and Diabetes Prevention

Regular consumption of green cabbage is associated with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study published in Official Journal of Primary Care Diabetes Europe found an inverse relationship between the risk of diabetes and consumption of cruciferous vegetables. [4]

Green cabbage carries low total energy intake, low glycemic load (ability to increase blood glucose level after consumption) and high fiber content which makes it beneficial for reducing the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, high concentration of minerals, vitamins, plant-proteins and other bioactive phytochemicals are also believed to have a beneficial impact on type 2 diabetes management.

Green Cabbage and Heart Health

As stated earlier, the antioxidant properties of green cabbage lead to several health benefits, the most important being the maintenance of good heart health. Green cabbage reduces cellular inflammation which in turn ensures heart health.

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggest that the presence of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and its oxidation by free radicals in the plasma leads to an increase in cardiovascular risk. [5] As LDL levels increase, plaque begins to build up in the arteries which causes a serious condition known as atherosclerosis. Narrowing of the arteries leads to reduction in the flow of oxygen-enriched blood to different organs. Severe cases of atherosclerosis can lead to plaque rupturing and a heart attack.

In addition to this, the oxidized LDL molecules also leave a toxic effect on plasma cells, causing them to die and accumulate as debris which adds more volume to the plague buildup.

However, consuming antioxidant-enriched foods like green cabbage helps in reducing LDL oxidation. With this reduced oxidation, the endothelial nitric oxide release is increased, the vasoreactivity is preserved and blood clotting is reduced (thrombogenicity). Due to these beneficial effects, the progression of plague accumulation and the resulting rupturing is significantly reduced.

Green Cabbage and Cancer Prevention

As green cabbage has a significant role in minimizing the cellular damage caused by oxidative stress, it is helpful in preventing various types of cancers.

In addition to carrying an ample supply of antioxidants, cabbage also contains a compound called sulfophane. This cancer-fighting compound is known for its ability to delay cancers and causes epigenetic changes in molecular pathways which are directly linked to the stimulation of growth of cancerous cells. [6]

Researchers have also observed chemoprotective role of sulfophane as a result of modulating several cancer activating pathways which include SHH, NF-kB, Wnt/β-catenin and epithelial mesenchymal transition pathways. [7] This chemoprotective effect is particularly carried out by sulfophane when it targets and suppresses pathways which give rise to the synthesis of cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are the progenitor cells which facilitate tumor development by stimulating and maintaining cancers. However, these cancer stem cells are targeted by sulfophane which kills these cells, delays the progression of cancer into advance stages and improves cancer treatment efficacy.

In this regard, the Current Pharmacology Reports shows evidence of future cancer treatment potential in using sulfophane through food. [8] Epigenetic changes and the cancer-preventing role of this compound are particularly promising in the treatment of prostate and breast cancer.

Green Cabbage and Radiation Therapy

The health benefits of green cabbage continue to help millions of people undergoing radiation therapy as a result of cancer diagnosis. Green cabbage is enriched with a compound known as DIM (3,3’-diindolylmethane). Evidence from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of American (PNAS) shows that effect of lethal dosages of ionizing radiation can be limited by DIM. [9] DIM, which injected or taken orally, prevents normal cells and tissues from dying out during cancer treatment. DIM also triggers DNA repair pathways and activates cell survival signals which in turn helps the body stay resilient in the face of radiation therapy.

With all its nutrient richness, including green cabbage in your diet is surely a healthy choice. Ensure it is organic green cabbage.

References

  1. Food Composition Databases Show Foods. (2017). nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2888?manu=&fgcd=&ds=Standard%20Reference
  2. Zhang, X. & Shu, X. (2017). Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality.
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C. (2017). od.nih.gov. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  4. Jia, X. & Zhong, L. (2017). Consumption of citrus and cruciferous vegetables with incident type 2 diabetes mellitus based on a meta-analysis of prospective study.
  5. McBride, A. (2017). Antioxidant Vitamins and the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease – American Family Physician. org. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0901/p895.html
  6. Tortorella, S. M., Royce, S. G., Licciardi, P. V., & Karagiannis, T. C. (2015). Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 22(16), 1382-1424. doi:10.1089/ars.2014.6097
  7. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts, Future Oncology, Future Medicine. (2017). com. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2217/
  8. Atwell, L. & Beaver, L. (2015). Epigenetic Regulation by Sulforaphane: Opportunities for Breast and Prostate Cancer Chemoprevention. Current Pharmacology Reports, 1(2), 102-111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40495-014-0002-x
  9. Fan, S. & Meng, Q. (2017). DIM (3,3′-diindolylmethane) confers protection against ionizing radiation by a unique mechanism. Retrieved 2 March 2017, from
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The Plant Based Diet and Your Health