Cabbage is a biennial herb of the mustard family and is native to the rocky shores of Europe. It can be considered one of the most ancient of the more common vegetables-there is evidence that it has been in cultivation for more than 4,000 years. Centuries of cultivation have produced other forms of the cabbage family: kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
There are many kinds of cabbage: red, white, and green; with smooth or crinkled leaves; and with round, flattened, oblong, or conical heads. The most widely preferred type is the conical shape, or Wakefield cabbage. Other varieties include round or Savoy, flatheaded or Dutch, celery or Chinese cabbage.
This nonstarchy vegetable now furnishes one of our most important vegetable crops and is available all year. Its peak of abundance is between October and May. The largest cabbage-producing states are California, Colorado, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
When selecting cabbage, look for heads that are of a reasonable size and compactness, with leaves that are tender, not withered or puffy. Make sure the heads are free from soft rot, seed stems, and damage caused in shipping or freezing, by disease from insects, or by mechanical means. Cabbage should be used as soon after cutting as possible, as exposure to the air causes loss of vitamin C.
When cooking cabbage, use a stainless steel pan, and cook it over low heat. Because cabbage is a sulfur food. it is gas-forming, and this method of cooking will help avoid this. Covering the pan wtth a vacuum top will also help, and the mineral balance can be maintained in this type of vessel.
Cabbage should be cooked quickly, sliced or shredded to avoid longer cooking time, and served immediately. It is best combined with other vegetables, a starch, or a protein. (Apples and cabbage together are delicious.)
Because cabbage is a sulfur food, it can cause intestinal distress. It also contains a great deal of roughage, and some people find that they cannot eat raw cabbage.
Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage, both red and green, is one of the least expensive of the vitamin-protective foods, and is one of the most healthful vegetables. It is an excellent source of vitamin C. Raw cabbage juice may be taken when citrus fruits are prohibited, and can be made more palatable by combining it with a milder juice, such as celery or tomato.
Raw cabbage is a fair source of vitamin A, a good source of vitamin B1, and contains some vitamin G. Cabbage is alkaline in reaction, high in cellulose or roughage, and has a very low calorie content. Cooked red cabbage is superior to white or green in that some people seem to be less sensitive to it. Cooked cabbage still retains a fair amount of vitamin A. The outside leaves of cabbage-those leaves that are very green-have as much as 40 percent more calcium than the inside leaves.
Cabbage contains many minerals: it is rich in calcium and potassium, and contains chlorine, iodine, phosphorus, sodium, and sulfur. Red cabbage has more calcium but slightly less of the other minerals than white or green cabbage.
When we were traveling in Switzerland, we noted how a variety of curly cabbage was used as a pack for eczema and for various leg conditions such as varicose veins and leg ulcers. This external pack was made by chopping the cabbage into fine pieces and mixing it with distilled water. The pack was placed on the affected area and wrapped with a linen cloth. The sulfur in cabbage helps destroy the ferments in the blood, and is especially good for any skin trouble when used both internally and externally. Sulfur is one of the elements that increases body heat, so people with cold feet might want to include cabbage in their diet.
Dr. Garnett Cheney, clinical professor at the University of California, has found that the use of raw cabbage juice showed promising results in the cure of ulcers of the stomach. Dr. Cheney thinks that the vitamin U in cabbage is what helps. He discovered that after his ulcer patients drank raw cabbage juice over a period of four or five days, most of their symptoms would disappear.
I do not believe, however, that raw vegetable juice in itself, no matter what kind, would give relief to most ulcer conditions. I use what we call cabbage juice diets because there are factors in cabbage juice that may accelerate healing and overcome ulcers of the stomach more readily than other juices.
Cabbage is very effective in helping overcome constipation, and sauerkraut, or sauerkraut juice, is particularly good for a sluggish intestinal tract, and for more serious cases of constipation. Sauerkraut juice, with a little lemon juice added, may be helpful for diabetes. Raw sauerkraut juice stimulates the body in general, and when mixed with tomato juice, makes a wonderful laxative. It is very high in vitamin C and lactic acid.
While in New Zealand, I spoke with the head food buyer for the Army, who told me that cabbage was considered one of the best foods for keeping a clean, clear complexion, and that servicewomen insisted on having cabbage salads to keep their complexions clear.
The Chinese variety of cabbage has a very high sodium content, as much as 35 percent. It does not produce as much gas as red and white cabbage do, as its sulfur content is only 2 percent, compared to 10 percent in red and white. Red and white cabbage contain nearly the same vitamins and minerals and are used the same therapeutically.
Nutrients in one pound
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