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Some vegetables can be eaten both raw in salads or cooked as a side dish depending on your preference and taste. And though they taste delicious raw and can offer health benefits, (1) cooking has additional benefits, making it the better choice.
Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage are one such group where cooking them is better than eating them raw.
This article will explore why.
Benefits of Cooked Cabbage
Studies have found these benefits associated with consuming cooked cabbage.
1. Increases antioxidant activity
Cabbages are rich sources of beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants that can impact health positively. They also contain an enzyme called myrosinase, which releases the antioxidants from their bound form.
One study found that steaming has been found to preserve the most antioxidant activity of cabbage. (2) Steaming also reduced the nitrites bound to nutrients and decreased their availability to the body. (2)
Another study evaluating red cabbage found that microwaving followed by steaming retained a higher level of antioxidants than other cooking methods. (3)
2. Improves digestibility of cabbage
Many people find it hard to digest cabbage due to its high fiber content, and thus they experience symptoms of gas and bloating.
Cooking cabbage by steaming not only softens the fiber but also makes it easier for bile acid to digest cabbage. (4)
Is There a Disadvantage of Cooking Cabbage?
The biggest disadvantage of cooking cabbage is its reduction of vitamin C content. (5) About 1 cup of raw cabbage contains 32.6 mg of vitamin C, (6) whereas 1 cup of cooked cabbage has 28 mg of vitamin C. (7)
However, you can consume other richer sources of vitamin C, such as kiwi, oranges, and guava, to fulfill your vitamin C requirement.
How to Cook Cabbage
Steaming has been identified as the ideal cooking method for the least amount of nutritional losses. You can steam cabbage leaves in the following way:
- Wash cabbage leaves and chop them as desired.
- Place a colander over a pot of simmering water and add the chopped cabbage pieces.
- Cover and steam for 5–7 minutes until the leaves turn soft and translucent.
- Remove and let drain.
You can use steamed cabbage in salads or as toppings for your meals. In addition, you can steam whole leaves and use them as wraps.
- Cooked cabbage is healthier than raw cabbage as steaming or microwaving increases its antioxidant availability.
- Steaming also makes cabbage easier to digest. It reduces the amount of nitrites that bind to nutrients and prevents their absorption.
- Cooking also reduces the vitamin C content of cabbage; however, you can eat other vitamin C-rich foods to fulfill your daily requirement for this vitamin.