9 Proven Health Benefits Of Eating Cabbage During Pregnancy

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Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable rich in potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. It has a sweet-bitter taste and crunchy texture that several people like. However, since it is known to cause gastric discomfort, you may want to know if eating cabbage during pregnancy is a safe choice.

Cabbage is also considered a goitrogenic food that might interfere with thyroid functioning. So, keep reading as we tell you about the safety of cabbage for expectant mothers, its possible health benefits and side effects, and safe ways to include cabbage in your pregnancy diet.

Is It Safe To Eat Cabbage During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to eat cabbage during pregnancy as it is rich in nutrients and offers numerous health benefits (1). Cooked cabbage is always safer than raw cabbage leaves as it minimizes the risk of food-borne diseases (2).

Raw cabbage may contain microbes that could result in food-borne diseases such as listeria infections, which can cause premature birth, miscarriage and also stillbirth (3).

Cooked cabbage is safe to eat and can be included in your pregnancy diet. It also offers a few health benefits for pregnant women.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Cabbage During Pregnancy?

Here are a few benefits of including cabbage in your pregnancy diet.

  1. Good for digestion: Cabbage contains a high amount of dietary fiber, which helps regulate bowel movement and digestion (4). Constipation is one of the common problems of pregnancy, and a regular diet, including cabbage, can mitigate it.
  1. Improves DNA health: Cabbage is a rich source of folate or folic acid, which is essential for building up the fetal DNA. It, therefore, helps in protecting your baby from neural tube congenital deformities (5).
  1. Low in calories: Cabbage is a low-calorie food (6) and thus helps manage weight during pregnancy. So, if you want to gain minimal weight during pregnancy, include cabbage in your diet.
  1. Prevents gestational diabetes: The high dietary fiber content in cabbage manages blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of gestational diabetes (7).
  1. Anticancer agents: Purple cabbage contains anticancer agents called anthocyanins (8).
  1. Improves bone health and immunity: Cabbage contains healthy levels of vitamin K and vitamin C. While vitamin K makes bones stronger (9), vitamin C helps in improving immunity (10).
  1. Manages blood pressure: Cabbage is rich in electrolytes and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus that play a key role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate (11).
  1. Lowers the risk of pregnancy anemia: Iron deficiency in pregnancy can lead to anemia. Regular consumption of iron-rich cabbage helps prevent that (12).
  1. Cabbage leaves for pregnancy edema: Cabbage leaves are useful for drawing out the excess liquid from the body. It is therefore helpful in reducing swelling, which happens during and after pregnancy. Wrapping cabbage leaves around the swollen areas helps ease the pain and discomfort. Change the leaves once they turn wet and repeat it twice a day. It also helps reduce breast engorgement after delivery (13).

That is not all. Cabbage is also rich in several other nutrients that are essential during pregnancy. Read on to know.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Cabbage?

According to the USDA, the nutrition present in 100g of raw cabbage is as follows (14):

NutrientQuantity
Calories25kcal
Carbohydrates5.8g
Protein1.28g
Fiber2.5g
Fat0.1g
Vitamins
Vitamin A98IU98IU
Vitamin C36.6mg
Vitamin K76mcg
Folate43mcg
Pyridoxine0.124mg
Niacin0.234mg
Riboflavin0.04mg
Thiamin0.061mg
Electrolytes
Potassium170mg
Sodium18mg
Minerals
Calcium40mg
Iron0.47mg
Magnesium12mg
Zinc0.18mg
Phosphorus26mg

g=grams; mg=milligrams; mcg=micrograms

Although nutritious, cabbage can pose some risks when taken in excess amounts.

What Are The Risks Of Consuming Cabbage During Pregnancy?

Following are some side-effects of cabbage, if consumed too much:

  1. Leads to gas formation: Over consumption might lead to flatulence, severe gas and abdominal pain. Therefore, it is better to limit your intake of cabbage if you are prone to gas problems (15).
  1. Aggravates thyroid problems: Cabbage is a goitrogenic food, which means it interferes with the thyroid gland functioning. Wash, boil and cook the cabbage properly to reduce its goitrogenic effect (16).

Another way to minimize the risks of eating cabbage is to pick the right variety of this vegetable.

How To Choose A Perfect Cabbage?

Keep the below points in mind while buying cabbage:

  • Go for fresh cabbages with no limp or wilted leaves, black or brown blemishes or spots.
  • The head of the cabbage should be compact and large with tender green layers of leaves.
  • The bottom should not be separate from the stem, and the leaves must be intact.
  • When you hold a cabbage, it should feel heavy.
  • In red or green cabbages, the leaves are compact and tightly furled. But the other varieties such as Savoy and Napa cabbage have softer leaves, and they are not tightly furled.

So, if you are not fond of the green variety, is it a good idea to include purple cabbage in your pregnancy diet?

Green Vs. Red/ Purple Cabbage – Which Is The Healthier One?

There are almost 400 varieties of cabbage in the world. Among them, red and green are the popular varieties. Though both are nutritious, they are not the same.

PropertyGreen (white) cabbageRed or purple cabbage
Vitamin C (one cup serving)Provides 47% of RDAProvides 85% of RDA
Vitamin A (one cup serving)Provides 3% of RDAProvides 33% of RDA
Vitamin K (one cup serving)Provides 57% of RDAProvides 28% of RDA
Iron (one cup serving)Provides 0.4mgProvides 0.7mg
AnthocyaninsNot foundThey are present in this due to the color of the cabbage and have antioxidant properties
LeavesWide-fan like leaves with a rubbery textureSmaller and denser leaves
Eating optionsUsed in stir-fries, braises, soups, and rollsUsed in Coleslaw and leafy green salads

Ideally, it is best to include both varieties in your diet for maximum benefit. However, it is essential to know how to consume either variety safely.

Safe Ways To Consume Cabbage In Pregnancy

  • You can consume steamed, boiled, sautéed and roasted cabbage.
  • Choose organic varieties over raw or stuffed cabbage varieties as they can reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.
  • Also, cooking cabbage for prolonged periods is not advisable as it alters the nutritional value of the vegetable.
  • Make sure to wash and cook it thoroughly to remove the toxins and microbes.
  • Do not buy shredded or halved cabbage as the vitamin C content reduces once it is cut.

Here are some simple ways to include cabbage in your pregnancy diet.

  • Roast chopped cabbage and drizzle it with olive oil, minced garlic and cracked black pepper.
  • Add to any stew or soup while cooking.
  • Add boiled cabbage to a fresh leafy salad.

A few cabbage recipes to add to your menu

1. Cabbage soup

This warm soup can relieve cold during pregnancy.

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ½ cabbage, finely chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 400g tomatoes, chopped
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 2l water
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2tsp black pepper, freshly minced
  • 1tsp salt

How to:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add onion, garlic and cook for five minutes.
  3. Add water, salt, and pepper and bring it to boil.
  4. While the water is boiling, add cabbage and bring it to simmer until it wilts.
  5. Add tomatoes, let them boil.
  6. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes while stirring continuously.

Preparation time: 55min
Servings: 8

2. Cabbage pancakes

A simple dish that can be prepared in a jiffy.

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup cabbage, grated
  • ½ cup Bengal gram flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • ½tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • ½tsp ginger, grated
  • 2tbsp coriander, chopped
  • Salt to taste

How to:

  1. Add all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix them using water to make a thick batter.
  2. Heat the non-stick pan and apply some oil.
  3. Add one-quarter of batter on it.
  4. Flip it so that both sides of the pancakes are cooked until golden brown.
  5. Take off the pan and serve hot with pickle or ketchup.

Preparation time: 5min
Servings: 4

If you dislike or are allergic to cabbage, check with your doctor before giving it a try. Experimenting with your diet during these important months is not recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much fiber does cabbage provide?

One cup serving of chopped cabbage offers two grams of fiber, which constitutes 9% of recommended daily value of 25 grams fiber (17).

2. Can thyroid patients eat cabbage?

Cabbage is a goitrogenic food which interferes with thyroid functioning. It can block the thyroid potential to utilize iodine which otherwise helps in the normal functioning of the gland. You should avoid cabbage if you are having hypothyroidism as it can further slow down the hormone production (18).

3. Does cabbage cause constipation during pregnancy?

Cabbage contains dietary fiber, which is pivotal in improving the bowel activity. In fact, it bulks up the stool, which makes it a great food for constipation (19).

4. Can you eat coleslaw when pregnant?

Coleslaw is a salad containing finely shredded raw cabbage along with other vegetables, mayonnaise or vinaigrette (21). It is good to avoid coleslaw during pregnancy as it contains raw cabbage and can trigger food poisoning, which can put the unborn baby at risk (20).

Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable that provides several nutrients, dietary fiber, and health-promoting bioactive compounds. You can consume cabbage during pregnancy as a part of a well-balanced diet containing foods from various food groups. Regular intake of cabbage promotes digestion and improves overall health. Eating cooked cabbage is safer as raw cabbage poses the risk of food-borne illnesses. However, you can add raw cabbage to your salad if you take the necessary precautions. Cabbage curry, cabbage soup, and cabbage pancake are some delectable cabbage dishes you can relish during pregnancy.

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Dr. Shikha Sharma

(MBBS)
Celebrity nutrition advisor Dr. Shikha Sharma has founded Dr. Shikha’s Nutrihealth in 1998. Dr. Shikha has done her MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College and her organization, Dr. Shikha's NutriHealth, has over 50 Ayurveda experts and nutritionists who provide consultation services to the clients. The Nutrihealth expert team handles weight loss/weight gain, PCOS, thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, post-pregnancy weight loss and... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more