Chinese cabbage is very healthy. It’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there. However, consumers often do not know what to do with Chinese cabbage. This is what you need to know about the superfood.
Chinese cabbage is part of the standard range in the vegetable departments of larger supermarkets and is very healthy. But there are quite a few consumers who have never bought Chinese cabbage. That should change quickly. Because vegetables can hardly be healthier than Chinese cabbage. In addition, it is easy to digest compared to other types of cabbage. Whether raw, in a stew, or fermented as spicy kimchi: Chinese cabbage is a versatile superfood.
Chinese cabbage: origin and characteristics
Chinese cabbage comes from China. It is said to have originated there in the 5th century when the turnip was crossed with mustard cabbage. The vegetable variety probably only came to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. In English-speaking countries, cabbage is also known as napa or napa cabbage. Incidentally, this has nothing to do with the Napa Valley wine-growing region but is derived from the Japanese word for vegetable leaves.
Chinese cabbage is also known as Japanese cabbage, Beijing cabbage, or celery cabbage. Unlike many other types of cabbage, it does not have a stalk. There is therefore hardly any waste during preparation. The body is elongated and can grow up to half a meter in length. The leaves of the Chinese cabbage are light green to yellowish and are characterized by a ruffled edge.
What is inside?
Chinese cabbage is about 95 percent water, according to the US Department of Agriculture database. This explains the low energy density of only 13 kilocalories per 100 grams. 100 grams of raw Chinese cabbage contain, among other things:
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 2.2 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.0 grams of dietary fiber
- 1.2 grams of sugar
- 105 milligrams of calcium
- 45 milligrams of vitamin C (that’s one-third to about half of an adult’s daily requirement)
Although Chinese cabbage has a mild taste, it still contains the mustard oils (glucosinolates) typical of cabbage plants. Among other things, these essential substances can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, have a positive effect on the immune system, act against bacteria and neutralize cell-damaging oxygen molecules (so-called free radicals).
Chinese cabbage is so healthy
A 2014 study in the USA found out how healthy Chinese cabbage is. The study was published in the Preventing Chronic Disease magazine of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Jennifer Di Noia from William Paterson University studied which vegetables and fruits are the healthiest. The researcher was interested in the question of how much food influences the risk of developing a chronic disease. She found out: that Chinese cabbage is in second place among the healthiest fruits and vegetables.
The degree of health was determined based on 17 ingredients. In addition to the protein and calcium already mentioned, 100 grams of raw Chinese cabbage yielded the following:
- Iron: 0.8 milligrams
- Potassium: 252 milligrams
- Fiber: 1.0 grams
- Riboflavin: 0.07 milligrams
- Niacin: 0.5 milligrams
- Zinc: 0.19 milligrams
- Folic acid: 66 micrograms
- Thiamine: 0.04 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.194 milligrams
- Vitamin B12: 0 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 45 milligrams
- Vitamin K: 45.5 micrograms
- Vitamin A: 223 micrograms
- Vitamin E: 0.09 milligrams
- Vitamin D: 0.0 micrograms
The nutrient content was then related to the calorie content. The result was a nutritional value that is supposed to show how healthy a food is. Watercress came out on top with a maximum of 100 points. Next came the healthy Chinese cabbage with 91.99 points. He was ahead of chard, the greens of beetroot, spinach, and chicory.
Buy, store, and prepare
Chinese cabbage is available in supermarkets all year round. The heads are usually welded in. Wrapped in foil, they will keep in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for a good one to two weeks. In contrast to other types of cabbage, Chinese cabbage is cooked, steamed, or fried after just a few minutes.
The cabbage can be eaten raw in a salad because it is well tolerated. Its sturdy leaves don’t wither easily. This also explains the popularity of Chinese cabbage in making kimchi. In this South Korean specialty, the cabbage is pickled with the addition of fish sauce, garlic, and hot paprika powder. This not only makes the food durable for a very long time. The fermentation that takes place here makes the Chinese cabbage a little bit healthier.