Braised Red Cabbage and Apple

By: Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

Red cabbage with half of it shredded, the main ingredient in braised red cabbageThe peppery flavor of red cabbage comes from sulfur-based compounds, while the vegetable’s deep color is the result of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid. Both of these types of compounds are known to have cancer-fighting properties. Red cabbage is also high in fiber and a variety of other helpful nutrients. Anthocyanins have also been shown to reduce the formation of plaque in the brain that precede and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. The sulfur compounds of red cabbage are vital for your body to be able to synthesize keratin, the substance that makes up your hair and nails. Consuming more red cabbage provides more of these building blocks that can improve the health of your hair and nails.

Red cabbage is also a surprisingly excellent source of vitamins C and E, both of which have been shown to slow the aging process and protect from age related deterioration of the body. Vitamin E is found in highest concentration in the outer leaves, while vitamin C is found in higher concentration a little deeper in the core of the cabbage. Both these vitamins help keep your skin younger looking and beautiful.

The sulfur and vitamin C in red cabbage have both been shown to help the body remove and dispose of toxins, particularly free radicals and uric acid. These compounds are the primary risk factors in arthritis, gout, rheumatism, and many other skin conditions.

Red cabbage is high in antioxidants, which can also help mop up free radicals. Free radicals are particles in your body that can cause highly damaging chemical reactions that disruptyour cells and DNA, and can make you more vulnerable to a variety of diseases. One study on lab rats found that red cabbage could be an effective treatment for diabetes, though the research has yet to be conducted in humans.

Red cabbage contains unusually high concentrations of glutamine. This amino acid has been shown to soothe ulcers and cabbage juice is an age old treatment for ulcers.

Red cabbage is especially high in antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, containing much greater amounts of these nutrients than green cabbage. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is beneficial to eye and skin health, and helps boost your immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

A pile of braised red cabbage with a sprig of fresh herbCabbage is high in fiber, which helps you fill up faster and feel full longer. It is also very low in calories, a combination that can help you lose weight.

Red cabbage contains lactic acid, which may reduce muscle aches. Cooking and fermenting red cabbage both help release the lactic acid to make it more available to your body in foods such as braised red cabbage.

Red cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, the vitamin given to newborn babies to stimulate blood clotting. Vitamin K is also vital to bone mineralization, and deficiency (especially long-term deficiency) is linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.

If you suffer from frequent headaches, cabbage may be able to help. Drink a couple of ounces of raw cabbage juice each day to reduce the frequency of headaches. When you have a headache, try a compress made from warm cabbage leaves.

People with thyroid problems should enjoy red cabbage in moderation as eating it in large quantities can impair the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. Legend has it that in the 17th century, poultices made from cabbage were used to dress wounds, preventing gangrene.


  • Sliced red cabbage to use in braised red cabbage1 medium red cabbage, finely shred
  • 1 large sweet apple, cut in small pieces
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Mix well all ingredients in a large ovenproof dish with lid.
  3. Bake 1 – 1 ½ hour, stir every 30 minutes. When done, the cabbage is soft and not slushy.
  4. Serve hot or store in the fridge and serve cold or reheated.

Serves 6

A pile of braised red cabbage with a sprig of fresh herb