Cabbage has a moderate iron content. But, it can help us meet our daily needs. Just a small serving provides 2.5% of the recommended daily intake of iron!
Health benefits of iron
Iron is vital for good health. Above all, iron is well-known as a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Also, iron is vital for muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, though! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
How much iron do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women.
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time to meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement. You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
What’s the iron content of cabbage?
Cabbage contains between 0.4 mg and 0.8 mg of iron per 100g, depending on the variety.
Green cabbage has the lowest iron content. It contains only 0.47 mg of iron per 100g. A serving of 1-cup chopped green cabbage contains 0.42 mg of iron, which is 1.5% of the recommended daily intake.
Other cabbage varieties have a much higher iron content. For instance, both red cabbage and Chinese cabbage (also known as bok choi or pak choy) contain 0.8 mg of iron per 100g. A serving of these varieties provides about 0.71 mg of iron, or 2.5% of the recommended daily intake.
Do we absorb the iron of cabbage?
Keep in mind that we absorb only a small percentage of iron of cabbage, as well as all plant-based foods.
Vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds), and nuts have a low iron bioavailability as they’re packed with nutrients which inhibit its absorption.
These nutrients are beneficial for health, though. They have potent antioxidant properties. If you follow a healthy, well-balanced diet, you’ll probably get enough iron. Just eat many foods high in iron.
It’s estimated that we absorb between 5% and 12% of iron from plants. In contrast, we absorb about 18% of iron from animal-based foods.
We could increase the absorption of iron, eating many foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption!
Cabbage is an excellent dietary source of vitamin C as well. It contains between 36 mg and 57 mg of vitamin C per 100g. Green cabbage contains 36 mg, Chinese cabbage 45 mg, and red cabbage 57 mg of vitamin C per 100g, respectively.
Other common food high in iron as well as vitamin C are kale and spinach.
Furthermore, animal-based foods, like meat, poultry, and seafood, enhance iron absorption.
On the other hand, better avoid consuming whole-grains and beans with foods high in iron. They have high amounts of phytates and polyphenols, which significantly inhibit iron absorption.
High amounts of calcium might reduce the bioavailability of iron as well. Hence, you better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with foods containing iron.
Other foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, as well as certain fruits and vegetables.
Potatoes, chocolate, beans, and onion greens are only a few common plant-based foods high in iron.
Certain fruit juices, such as prune and raspberry juices, are excellent dietary sources of iron as well. They could help us meet our daily needs.
Why should I eat cabbage regularly?
Cabbage has a great nutritional value. It’s rich in many vitamins and minerals, like calcium. Furthermore, it contains various bioactive compounds with pharmacological properties, like luteolin, myricetin, quercetin, sulforaphane, as well as many other flavonoids, and polyphenols.
Also, cabbage is pretty rich in chlorophyll, which has many health benefits as well.
Due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cabbage may help prevent the development of many chronic oxidative diseases, such as cancer and coronary artery disease. Cabbage is particularly beneficial for the heart.[5,6,7]
Red cabbage has a much higher antioxidant capacity than green cabbage, as it’s high in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are colored water-soluble pigments. As a rule of thumb, red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables are rich in anthocyanins.
As anthocyanins have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, they may help prevent the development of several diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, microbial infections, metabolic diseases, as well as certain cancers.
Moreover, cabbage is good for weight loss. It’s low in calories and carbs. Also, it’s a super filling food, as it’s pretty high in fiber. Hence, the best time to consume cabbage is before a high-calorie meal. It’ll help you consume fewer calories in a day!
Most noteworthy, cabbage may help regulate blood glucose. High blood sugar levels have been linked to increased risk of mortality!
Obese people tend to have higher blood glucose levels than people with a healthy body weight.
Even people with diabetes and people who follow a ketogenic diet can eat cabbage.