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Cabbagesaurus - Cabbage Mascot
The Cabbage Family Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Protectors Recipes

The Cabbage Family

The familiar green head cabbage really doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s versatility in meal preparation is well known. Red cabbage, with a deep red-purple color, is delicious and attractive when shredded into salads and is also good for pickling. Savoy cabbage has crimped curled leaves of yellow-green, and is milder in flavor. Napa, or Chinese cabbage is white to light green in color and resembles romaine lettuce. Napa is elongated in shape and has crinkled leaves with broad ribbed stalks. It also h as a mild, delicate flavor. Don’t forget those miniature cabbages-brussels sprouts! Brussels sprouts are small, bright green and firm with delicate flavor.


Another, yet more unfamiliar member of the cabbage family is kohlrabi. The name means “cabbage turnip” which is appropriate because the vegetable resembles a turnip with leaves. The bulb and leaves are both eaten. Bulbs are best steamed and the leaves may be cooked like spinach.


Health experts recommend eating cabbage and its close relatives on a regular basis, since they may help in preventing certain types of cancer.

food pyramid

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Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center

Wendy Demark, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N.

Center your diet around fruits and vegetables and you’ll have one of the best prescriptions for good health. These foods are important, not only for normal body functioning (tissue repair, vision, etc.), but they also may protect you from diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and, most of all, cancer.


Diet plays a big role in cancer prevention. It is estimated that over one third of all cancer-related deaths could be prevented by a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are key. Research suggests that people who eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day cut their cancer risk in half when compared to those who consume one serving or less. The National Cancer Institute estimates the incidence of colorectal cancer could be cut in half, breast cancer reduced by 25%, and cancers of the prostate, endometrium and gallbladder by 15% if we all started eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.


Vegetables are especially nutrient dense. Calorie for calorie they pack more vitamins, minerals, fiber and other cancer-fighting agents than any other food group. Cabbage family (cruciferous) vegetables are particularly powerful cancer fighters. Cabbage contains at least 11 of the 15 families of vegetable-related compounds found to prevent cancer. Studies suggest that these compounds may hinder a number of steps in the cancer process. An optional diet, therefore includes several servings of cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables per week

Although it is frightening that one out of three Americans will get cancer during their lifetime, it is comforting to know that we can do a lot to prevent this disease. One path to prevention includes a healthy diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Remember, we can all do a lot to prevent cancer...not only in ourselves, but in our families and children as well. We, at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, urge you to join us in our fight against cancer. Choose a varied, low fat diet and make room for extra servings of vegetables and fruits.

Wendy Demark, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N.

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Cancer Protectors in our Diets

Vegetables and Fruits

There are demonstrated links in eating green and yellow vegetables and lower risks of cancers of the lungs, stomach, large intestines and probably other sites. Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A serving is equal to a half cup, so you can easily include two servings in one meal.



Nutrition Information Per Serving
Serving Size 1 cup, raw
Calories 16
Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 4 g
Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 12 mg
Potassium 172 mg

SEASON: All year

SELECTION: Choose firm heads that feel heavy for their size. Outer leaves should look fresh, have good color, and be free of blemishes.

AMOUNT: Allow about 1/4 pound per person. A 1 ½ pound cabbage yields 6 to 8 cups shredded raw cabbage.

STORAGE: Refrigerate, unwashed, in plastic bag for up to 1 week (up to 4 days for napa cabbage).

PREPARATION: For head cabbages, pull off and discard any wilted outer leaves. Rinse head, cut in half lengthwise, and cut out core. Cut into wedges and shred. For napa cabbage, pull off and discard any wilted outer leaves; rinse. Cut off base and cut cabbage in half lengthwise; then slice crosswise.

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NCDA&CS Markets Division, Joe Sanderson, Director
Mailing Address: 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1020
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Room 402, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3100; FAX: (919) 733-0999