Friday, July 12, 2013


Week 3 of Jen & Derek's CSA brought with it oodles of green-ness. I was admonished by Jen because I only brought one (big) reusable bag for the haul and it was clearly not enough to handle all that she had harvested for us lucky members.  Amongst the jewels that were in this week's share was a big head of something Jen called napa cabbage. When she saw the blank look on my face, she said 'It's Chinese cabbage'.  Oh. I nodded , as if the clarification had helped immensely, even though I still had no idea what to do with this big head of ruffly, pale leaves.

Cabbage has never been tops on my list of favorite veggies, but this particular variety has little resemblance to the big, heavy, round purple heads that most of us are more familiar with.  I figured a wee bit of research into its nutritional benefits might convince me of its merits.  Turns out, napa cabbage is yet another member of the rather large Brassica family (they might even have more family members than the Duggars!).  From my nutrition studies, I already knew that being part of the Brassica family automatically gave this vegetable automatic star status, but I dug a little deeper to find out just what its nutritional claims to fame are.


It's Baby-friendly!

Ladies, if you're planning to get pregnant or are pregnant, this head o' cabbage is for you.  Most moms-to-be know the importance of taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy to help protect against neurological damage to the baby growing inside, but how about enjoying some of that folate goodness from nature as well?   Napa cabbage, it turns out, is an awesome source of folate. So, if you're in pre-pregnancy planning mode or already carrying a little one, make sure you eat lots of cabbage leaves.

It just occurred to me that the napa cabbage leaves could make a pretty decent substitution for a tortilla wrap sandwich. Just bundle veggies and meat in a leaf or two and squeeze on some homemade dressing/sauce. Save the ice cream and pickles for those really hot days ;)

Photo Credit: Two Eat Philly, 2012

It's Not Orange, But It's Got a Lotta Vit. C!

Whenever someone gets sick, inevitably someone lectures them about 'getting their Vitamin C' (confession: I may have been said-lecturer on occasion).  It's good advice, if a little late for the sick person.  This vitamin supercharges your immune system and helps keep you strong and vibrant.  When most of us think of Vitamin C, we immediately think of citrus fruits like oranges, but there are plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including our friend, napa cabbage. 100 g of it provides 45% of your RDA. 

So eat your cabbage to help keep your immune system in check.

Eat Cabbage, Stay Strong!

Napa cabbage contains a decent amount of Vitamin K, which may play a role in keeping your bones strong and healthy.  In a nutshell, eating foods with Vitamin K may help delay or prevent osteoporosis and bone injuries.

Combat Cancer and Keep the Heart Healthy with Cabbage!

I have a feeling this is going to be a repetitive refrain throughout the summer, since pretty much every vegetable contains an amazing array of anti-oxidants that can help prevent cancer and also reduce  the risk of heart disease (often by reducing 'bad' cholestrol levels).  Depsite the prevalence of antioxidants in our lovely, organic vegetables, I think it's worth being reminded regularly of just how much what we eat (or don't eat) can help keep us in good health for the long term.  Vegetables are delicious and that should be reason enough to chomp on them every day, but the whole cancer and heart disease-fighting elements are a pretty amazing perk.

Cabbage Consumption Helps You Have Good Poos!
Yep, I bring up poop in a post about vegetables again. Can't be helped, since they're all so full of fiber and we know from those All-Bran ads that fibre keeps you regular (and not in the boring way, but the healthy bowel way!), and staying regular is the key to keeping toxins from sticking around in your body too long. 


As noted at the top of this post, napa cabbage is part of the Brassica family of vegetables, so the same cautions that apply to kale should be taken into consideration with the napa cabbage. That is, anyone with iodine-deficiency hypothyroidism should limit the amount of RAW napa cabbage they eat due to its goitrogenic potential (may block iodine uptake). Again, any sort of steaming or sauteeing will release these goitrogens and eliminate any issues that the food may pose for a person with hypothyroidism.

So, there you go folks, that's the lowdown on napa cabbage.  Enjoy it in abundance and revel in the fact that you are doing all the systems in your body a great service by providing them with foods that are full of valuable nutrients!


Sara said...

For those Mom's taking advantage of cabbage nutrition, here is another great use for you. Cabbage leaves really help with soreness due to nursing. Just place between bra and skin for some 100% natural relief.

Raeanne said...

Napa cabbage is great as a wrap! Fill with veggies and dip into a almond/peanut sauce - Delicious! Just cut away the really thick section at the bottom (usually a triangular shape).