How A Round Winter Vegetable Can Build Your Bones
In some areas of the world, it’s traditional to eat cabbage on New Year’s Eve, often accompanied by ham and beans. Perhaps the tradition started because cabbage is in season in the winter, and its green color is supposed to represent money and prosperity for the upcoming year.
Regardless of how it started, I recommend you eat this alkalizing vegetable year-round because cabbage is full of bone-healthy nutrients.
There are quite a few varieties, all of which are good for your bones, and it can be used in stir-fries, soups, casseroles, and other delicious dishes. Today, I’ll share with you a creamy cabbage soup recipe that I hope you’ll love.
The Impressive Nutritional Profile of Cabbage
Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, which includes foods like radishes, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower. It’s an alkalizing Foundation Food in the Save Our Bones Program, and it’s featured in several recipes in the new Save Our Bones cookbook, Bone Appétit. That’s because cabbage contains some excellent bone-building nutrients such as…
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
One of the B-complex vitamins, folate works in conjunction with Vitamin B6 (also found in cabbage) and B12 to convert homocysteine to other amino acids. (Homocysteine is an inflammatory marker in the body that has been associated with increased hip fracture rates1, among other things.)
Another Foundation Supplement, Vitamin C is often associated with citrus fruits. But cabbage contains 36.6mg of Vitamin C per half cup, which is more than 60% of the RDA. Vitamin C is vital for the production of collagen, which composes the majority of your bone tissue. A strong yet flexible collagen matrix is essential for preventing fractures. In addition, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radical damage that can harm your bones.
This mineral is important for proper muscle function. It is also an electrolyte that helps regulate water balance inside and outside cells and it alkalizes the pH of blood.
The most prevalent mineral in your bones is calcium, of course. But what’s interesting is that the calcium-binding protein called osteocalcin depends on Vitamin K to form calcium bonds. Vitamin K also works in synergy with Vitamin D to regulate osteoclasts (cells that tear down old bone to make way for new bone cells).
While it’s not a Foundation Supplement, tryptophan may sound familiar to some Savers. Tryptophan is vital for the formation of picolinic acid, a chelating agent that promotes the absorption of minerals (such as calcium) through the intestinal walls.
Like Vitamin K, manganese plays a role in blood clotting. It also helps in the synthesis of cartilage, bone, and protein and promotes the formation of thyroxine (the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland). Manganese contributes to the activation of important enzyme systems, such as superoxide dismutase.
In addition to these and other vitamins and minerals, cabbage contains bone-healthy phytonutrients such as:
Polyphenols, Powerful Antioxidants
All cruciferous vegetables rank high in the antioxidant department, but cabbage deserves special recognition as being especially high in these free-radical fighters.
These anti-inflammatory compounds boost cytokine production and act as antioxidants.
Which Variety is Best?
All cabbage varieties offer bone-healthy nutrients and delicious flavor, whether eaten cooked or raw (I recommend eating it both ways for maximum nutrient variety and absorption). Here are some of the varieties you’re likely to see in the grocery store:
- Bok-choy (Chinese cabbage)
- Red (this variety is higher in Vitamin C than Green)
- Green (Green cabbage has nearly twice the Vitamin K as Red)
- Brussels sprouts
Choosing and Storing Cabbage
Cabbage is included in the EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” list, so it’s fine to buy the conventional kind instead of organic.
No matter which variety of cabbage you choose, look for firm, dense heads with crisp leaves. There should be no cracks or browning. If you see a lot of damage to the outer leaves, don’t assume you can just remove those; damaged outer leaves may well be indicative of worms that may have made their way to the middle of the cabbage. In addition, buy the whole head – cut or pre-shredded cabbage will have lost much of its Vitamin C content.
Store cabbage in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Although cabbage will keep from 1 to 2 weeks stored this way, try to use it within 2 or 3 days, because its Vitamin C will start to degrade.
Now for the best part: preparing and eating cabbage!
Right before you’re going to eat it, remove the outer leaves and, if you’re going to be chopping or shredding it (as in the recipe below), cut the cabbage into quarters and rinse them. Use a stainless steel knife to prevent turning the leaves black (which can happen with carbon steel). Then chop or shred as you like.
Here’s a flavorful, 100% alkaline recipe for cabbage soup from the Bone Appétit recipe book:
Creamy Cabbage Soup Recipe
- 1 fair-sized green cabbage, washed and finely shredded
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian butter*
- 4 cups water (adjust amount according to need)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1 ½ cups milk substitute
- Pepper and sea salt to taste
* Vegetarian butter refers to natural, non-hydrogenated, non-dairy spreads, except margarine, since the latter contains hydrogenated oils. If you can’t find any brand that fits this description, then use coconut oil. If so, make sure you keep your stovetop at no higher than medium setting so as not to overheat the coconut oil.
- Heat cabbage and onion in boiling water.
- Add the butter and seasoning, and let all cook gently for 1 hour, or longer if the vegetables are not quite tender.
- Add the milk substitute when the vegetables are thoroughly tender, and let all simmer gently for 10 minutes.
As mentioned above, this creamy, dairy-free recipe is from the Bone Appétit cookbook. It’s just one of over 200 recipes specifically formulated to build and nourish your bones.
Since the Save Our Bones Program was launched in 2009, the foundational principle has remained the same: the food you eat has a direct impact on your bone health. This is why the Program has extensive lists of both alkalizing and acidifying foods that contain bone-building nutrients.
Although the Save Our Bones Program does include a Recipe Sampler, many of you in the community have been asking for a comprehensive cookbook that coincides with the Program, and includes easy-to-prepare, pH-balanced recipes that build your bones and taste delicious. And now it’s here!
When you order Bone Appétit, you’ll receive the 30 Day Meal Planner and Blender Magic, two bonuses that make preparing and eating Foundation Foods easier than ever. And look inside your Bone Appétit cookbook for the third bonus: Calcilicious, a special collection of 24 calcium-rich recipes.
Till next time,
1 McLean, Jacques, Selhub, et al.. “Homocysteine as a predictive factor for hip fracture in older persons.” New England Journal of Medicine. 2004.