March 13, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Cabbage, Radishes, Calcium

My family eats a ton of red cabbage.

Is this a fairly healthy, cruciferous vegetable and a good source of calcium?

What about radishes?

-- Dennise O'Grady

Bay Head, NJ

Like all other cruciferous vegetables, red cabbage offers a wonderful array of unique phytonutrients and flavonoids that have been shown to help reduce the risk of a variety of cancers, particularly colorectal and bladder).

It is not, however, a good source of calcium. Unlike some of its calcium-powerful relatives (bok choy, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens), its absorption rate is quite low.

Whereas slightly less than one cup of kale steamed kale provides the same amount of calcium as a half cup of milk, you need three cups of steamed cabbage to reach that same amount.

Slight aside: For maximum absorption of all nutrients and components, opt for steamed, rather than raw, cabbage.

Radishes do not particularly stand out from a nutrient composition standpoint. Although they offer almost every single vitamin and mineral, each one occurs in small amount.

Alas, nutrition isn't solely about vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants that give radishes their natural hue are very beneficial to health.

As with cabbage, radishes are not your best source of calcium. Due to their low absorptive qualities, it takes four and a half cups to match the amount of absorbable calcium in a half cup of milk.

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