Red and purple cabbages are rich in the flavonoids called anthocyanins. These flavonoids give blueberries, grapes, red, and purple cabbage their dark color and act as an extremely powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory which are associated with a lower incidence of heart disease and help prevent damage to connective tissue and blood vessel walls.
Other vitamins and minerals include calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, K, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and eye health carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. The sulfur compounds, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates increase the liver’s ability to produce enzymes and promote digestive health.
Preparing and storing cabbage – Cabbage is a hearty vegetable but will lose its freshness and nutrients if not stored and prepared properly. Whole cabbage may be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly wrapped plastic bag for 7-10 days, but after it has been cut it should be tightly covered and used within 3-5 days. Do not wash the cabbage before storing. Cabbage has never been exposed to the outside environment and is clean inside, so simply remove the outer leaves. If you wish to rinse, do so after cutting.
Really bring out the health benefits of cabbage by cutting it into thin slices. This breaks down the cell walls and activates an enzyme called myrosinase, which slowly converts some of the nutrients into their active forms. To get the most out of cabbage, after slicing, let it sit for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10. Also, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in lemon, increases myrosinase activity, try sprinkling some lemon juice on it and let sit. Heat will inactivate this compound which is why it is important to let it sit and/or add lemon juice before cooking. Cook at low or medium heat for short periods of time. It is very important not to overcook cabbage, it is best not to boil, bake, broil, grill, roast, or cook with oil.