Savoy Cabbage: A Soup Ingredient with Many Health Benefits
Get out of your soup routine by using savoy cabbage instead of the more common white cabbage next time you make vegetable soup. Not only does savoy cabbage add hearty texture and mild flavor to soups, it is also extremely good for you. A member of the Brassica family of plants, savoy cabbage provides many of the same health benefits as its more common cousins such as the good old white cabbage and the up-and-coming superfood kale. Many of these benefits are derived from the high amounts of glucosinolates found in savoy cabbage, but also the large quantities of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate in this mild-tasting cabbage variety may play a role. Here's a lowdown of some of the most interesting nutritional and health benefits of savoy cabbage.
Savoy Cabbage is Packed with Potentially Cancer-Fighting Glucosinolates
Several studies have found a link between a high consumption of brassica vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer. According to a research paper which summarized the findings a large number of cohort studies and case-control studies, the evidence supporting the anti-cancer effects of Brassica vegetables, such as cabbage, is most consistent for stomach, lung, and colorectal cancers and least consistent for endometrial, ovarian, and prostate cancers. This paper appeared in the September 1996 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
Most of the anti-cancer properties of Brassica vegetables, such as savoy cabbage or broccoli, are believed to be linked to the glucosinolates they contain. Glucosinolates are pre-cursors to biologically active isothiocyanates which have been shown to neutralize carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and to inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
Now, here's the kicker: there are quite some differences in the glucosinolate content of different Brassica vegetables. A study published in Acta Horticulturae in 2010 analyzed 11 Brassica oleracea crops consisting of 42 cultivars for their glucosinolate content, and found that total glucosinolates varied from 14 to 625 μmol/100 g (fresh weight).
The lowest levels were found in cauliflower, green kohlrabi, and romanesco broccoli, while vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and – yes, you guessed it right – savoy cabbage contained the highest levels or glucosinolates. Among the tested savoy varieties, the late-season savoy variety 'Wirosa cabbage' was found to have the highest total levels of glucosinolates.
Savoy Cabbage – An Underappreciated Source of Vitamin C
People tend to associate vitamin C with healthy citrus fruits such as oranges, but did you know that many green leafy vegetables are also jam-packed with vitamin C? One U.S. cup of shredded raw savoy cabbage, for example, provides a whopping 36 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C.
In addition to boosting your immune system, vitamin C in savoy cabbage can help keep your skin, bones, and teeth strong due to its antioxidant activities and its ability to stimulate collagen synthesis. A great way to maximize the health benefits of savoy cabbage derived from its high vitamin C content is to eat it together with foods that are good sources of vitamin E as these two vitamins work best synergistically.
Eating Savoy Cabbage May Provide Benefits for Your Heart
Evidence suggests that diets rich in vitamin C are also good for cardiovascular health, so eating savoy cabbage on a more regular basis may be a smart move if you're trying to reduce your heart disease risk. A team of scientists from the University of California found that people who took a daily supplement containing 500 milligrams of vitamin C experienced a 24 percent drop in their plasma CRP levels after just two months. According to recent studies, CRP levels – which stand for plasma C-reactive protein levels – are a good measure of a person's heart disease risk, perhaps even better than cholesterol levels.
In addition to vitamin C, savoy cabbage is supercharged with another famous heart health protecting nutrient: vitamin K. Just one U.S. cup of shredded raw savoy cabbage provides a whopping 60% of the Daily Value for vitamin K. Vitamin K may help fight atherosclerosis, a key risk factor for heart disease, by directing calcium into your bones instead of your arteries.
Potential Benefits for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers
Even though savoy cabbage is not included in HealWithFood.org's list of the Best Foods for Asthma Sufferers, people with asthma or allergies should definitely consider eating more savoy cabbage due to high amounts of folate it contains. An intriguing study published in the June 2009 edition of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that people with the lowest levels of folate in their blood were 31 percent more likely to suffer from allergies and 40% more likely to suffer from wheezing than people who had the highest serum folate levels. The association between high folate levels and a reduced risk of allergies and wheezing was found to be dose-dependent, meaning that the risk of allergies and wheezing increases as serum folate levels decrease.
Savoy Cabbage Soup Recipe (Super-Healthy!)
A great way to reap the health benefits of savoy cabbage is to eat savoy cabbage soup. Here's an easy recipe for a delicious savoy soup:Ingredients:
- 6 cups water
- 1 small can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 big carrot, sliced
- 4 medium potatoes, cubed
- 1/2 head savoy cabbage
- 1 ½ lbs beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 6 beef bouillon cubes
- Add the water, tomatoes, onion, carrot, potatoes, and savoy cabbage to a large pot, and bring to a boil. Then, let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add the beef chunks and bouillon cubes, and let the soup simmer for another 45 minutes, or until the beef is thoroughly cooked and tender.