The onset of winter in the sub-tropical parts of India come as a blessing for salad fanatics due to the availability of various temperate vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout and many more salad greens belonging to the brassica family.
A tastier addition to that group is the red cabbage, with leaves that are dark red/purple in colour. As compared to its greener counterpart, red cabbage is a bit more peppery, smaller, and denser. It is also a better keeper than green cabbage, so has better storability. It can be eaten raw as well as cooked. But after cooking, it normally turns blue and so to retain the colour, it is necessary to use stainless steel utensils and add some vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.
Now let’s talk about its major property which has given red cabbage the tag of “nutrition powerhouse”. Red cabbage is rich in Vitamins C and K, making it an antioxidant-rich, immune booster. Compared to green cabbage, red cabbage contains 10 times more vitamins, flavonoids and antioxidants which are required for improving immune health and bone strength.
Research suggests that flavonoids can help in fighting cancer and can also aid in weight loss. A study published in the journal ‘Research in Pharmaceutical Science’ reported that it also fights inflammation and arthritis with its phytonutrient content.
Fermented red cabbage (known as kimchi) also helps to heal the gut by providing beneficial probiotics. It has folate, which is essential during pregnancy and also helps the body to produce red blood cells.
According to a study conducted in 2019, there is growing evidence that anthocyanins play a positive role in maintaining cardiovascular health. According to USDA nutrient database, 100g of red cabbage contains around 6.94g of carbohydrate, 2.6g of dietary fibre, 1.51g of protein, 34.4 mg Vitamin C, 24 micrograms of folate (vit.B9), 20 micrograms of beta-carotene, 47.6 micrograms of Vitamin K, 262 mg of potassium and 0.09g of fat. According to the data, it can be easily deduced how nutritionally sound this vegetable is.
The cultivation of red cabbage is slowly gaining momentum in India as its pretty colour and better taste is getting popular with people. With growing consciousness about healthier lifestyle and food, salad vegetables are becoming the new staple. So, the farmers cultivating it hoping for a better market and good profit.
Red cabbage needs well fertilized soil, sufficient humidity and cool climate to grow. Shelter is also beneficial but soil that becomes waterlogged should be avoided. They need watering often, otherwise they are low maintenance.
It has been observed that the plant changes its colour according to the pH value of the soil, due to a pigment belonging to anthocyanins. The leaves grow more reddish in acidic soil, more purple in neutral soil, while an alkaline soil will produce rather greenish-yellow coloured cabbages. This explains the fact that the same plant is known by different colours in various regions.