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Cabbage vs Broccoli - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Cabbage
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Broccoli

Introduction

Cabbage and broccoli are vegetables that belong to the same genus Brassica but are very different in appearance. In this article, we will discover the similarities and differences between these vegetables.

Classification

Cabbage and broccoli share the same genus Brassica but are assigned different species names Brassica oleracea var. italica for the broccoli, Brassica oleracea var. capitata for cabbage.

Appearance

It is quite easy to distinguish broccoli from cabbage even though they are from the same genus. The most common type of broccoli usually appears in dark green with a tree-like structure, and cabbage is usually layered. Both cabbage and broccoli have their varieties, while cabbage usually differs in color (purple, red), there are types of broccoli that are different by their appearance too.

Taste and Use

Both cabbage and broccoli are widely used as raw food as well as in salads and other dishes like soup. It is more common to use broccoli in food because of its tasteless feature, while it is common to consume raw cabbage, in general, the taste of the cabbage may vary based on its type.

Growing Conditions

Broccoli and cabbage differ in their growing conditions too. The most common type of broccoli is an annual plant, while cabbage is biennial.

Varieties

Cabbage and broccoli have various cultivars. They may differ in color, structure, and nutrient content.

The most common type of broccoli is the calabrese broccoli named after Calabria, Italy, while other types like sprouting broccoli are different in their color, it can be white or purple with more heads and many thin stems. Cabbage has also some types of cultivars, which includes the savoy which has curly leaves, tender texture, and mild taste, spring greens which appear sliced or steamed and are loose headed, green with graduating color from light to dark green with pointy heads, red with smooth leaves, white with pale green leaves.

Nutrition

In this article, we are going to discuss green cabbage and calabrese broccoli.

As most of the vegetables, cabbage and broccoli are mainly composed of water, but the numbers are different, for cabbage it’s 92.2 g and for broccoli 89.3 g per 100g.

Calories

Being vegetables, broccoli and cabbage are foods with low amounts of calories, but the cabbage contains a bit less than broccoli, about 25 kcal per 100g.

Protein and Fats

Cabbage is the absolute winner in total lipid composition, per 100 g it contains about 0.1 g, whether in the case of broccoli it is about 0.37 g. This also relates to the protein composition, cabbage contains about 1.28 g, while broccoli a bit more, about 2.82 g per 100g.

Carbohydrates

Cabbage and broccoli contain about the same number of carbohydrates, but broccoli contains slightly more than cabbage, about 6.64 g per 100g. Talking about fiber, both vegetables contain almost the same amount. In the case of the sugars, broccoli contains twice less than cabbage, 1.7 g per 100g.

Vitamins

Broccoli is an amazing source of vitamin C and vitamin A, per 100 g it contains 89.2 mg and 623 IU respectively. In the case of vitamin C it’s twice more than in cabbage and in the case of vitamin A about 6 times more. While 100 g of broccoli fulfills the daily required amount of vitamin C, for vitamin A it is not enough yet. Broccoli is also richer in vitamins B2, B3, and B6.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin C +143.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +535.7%
Contains more Vitamin E +420%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +16.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +192.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +173.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +170.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +41.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +33.7%
Contains more Folate +46.5%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 122% 6% 3% 0% 16% 10% 5% 13% 29% 0% 190% 33%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 298% 38% 16% 0% 18% 27% 12% 35% 41% 0% 254% 48%
Contains more Vitamin C +143.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +535.7%
Contains more Vitamin E +420%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +16.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +192.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +173.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +170.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +41.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +33.7%
Contains more Folate +46.5%

Minerals

Broccoli wins the mineral competition too, it contains more potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and iron.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains less Sodium -45.5%
Contains more Iron +55.3%
Contains more Calcium +17.5%
Contains more Potassium +85.9%
Contains more Magnesium +75%
Contains more Copper +157.9%
Contains more Zinc +127.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +153.8%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 18% 12% 15% 9% 7% 5% 12% 3%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 28% 15% 28% 15% 17% 12% 29% 5%
Contains less Sodium -45.5%
Contains more Iron +55.3%
Contains more Calcium +17.5%
Contains more Potassium +85.9%
Contains more Magnesium +75%
Contains more Copper +157.9%
Contains more Zinc +127.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +153.8%

Glycemic Index

As vegetables are considered as foods with low glycemic indexes cabbage and broccoli are not exceptions too. While both foods are lower than the estimated low GI, the glycemic index of cabbage is slightly less, it is estimated to be 10.

Acidity

Both cabbage and broccoli are slightly acidic, and they may vary based on their cultivars and growing conditions. For the cabbage, it is estimated to be around 5.50 - 6.75 pH, and for broccoli 6.30 - 6.85 pH making it slightly acidic than cabbage(1). Even though both vegetables are estimated to be slightly acidic, they are not considered acid-forming foods. Relating to the potential renal acid load (PRAL) the acidity of cabbage is -4.6 and for broccoli is -3.96 which makes them also alkaline(2). The PRAL shows the potential of food to produce acid inside the organism during metabolism.

Weight Loss

For decades vegetables have been the best option for weight loss. It is found that long-term vegetable consumption prevents organisms from gaining weight, such foods are cabbage and broccoli too. Due to their low calories content, richness in water, and relatively high amount of fiber, they are good options to consider when planning a weight loss diet. Being low in carbohydrates makes both of them good for keto diets, also it is suggested to cook both vegetables on steam, which affects the least on their nutrient composition, and only has a positive effect on organisms(3).

Health Impact

Broccoli and cabbage are rich in certain micronutrients and vitamins, further, we will discuss their impact on human health.

Cardiovascular Health

Cabbage and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables, in the paper, the author discusses the effect of various vegetables on the cardiovascular system and diseases associated with it. Among others studies show that due to their phytochemical composition both cabbage and broccoli are positively affecting cardiovascular health, lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases(4).

Cancer

It is shown that both cabbage and broccoli contain a substance called sulforaphane, which is rich in sulfur and has various positive benefits on human health.

Research shows that sulforaphane is a good chemoprotective substance, it is inhibiting tumor growth and increasing the cancer cells’ sensitivity to chemotherapeutics(5). However, a study performed on broccoli shows that its consumption needs to be under control, while certain amounts of broccoli may affect positively, the overuse can lead to hypoglycemia in patients who suffer from diabetes(6). For the cruciferous plants, it is suggested to use at least 5 (2½ cups) servings of this kind of vegetables. Also, both cabbage and broccoli are rich in antioxidants, which also may positively affect cancer prevention, it is also shown that growth time also affects the anticancer activity of broccoli. For example, broccoli collected in October had the highest cancer cell inhibition activity(7).

Diabetes

While both cabbage and broccoli have a low glycemic index, it is crucial to control the intake of both vegetables due to their chemical composition. While low amounts of daily consumption affect positively overall, high amounts may have harmful side effects on individuals with type 2 diabetes(7).

Summary

Having a bunch of similarities such as taxonomic relations, and slight differences in the overall nutrient content broccoli and cabbage have some crucial differences, while cabbage is lower in sodium content, about 45 % less than broccoli, broccoli contains 55% more Iron, 157 % more copper, 127 % more zinc. Regarding the vitamins, broccoli contains 535 % more vitamin A, 192 % more vitamin B2, 420 % more vitamin E.

Sources

  1. https://www.webpal.org/SAFE/aaarecovery/2_food_storage/Processing/lacf-phs.htm
  2. https://www.clinicaleducation.org/documents/revised-summary-pral-list.pdf
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S027153170800064X
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986475/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6141106/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802872/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391535/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6669329/
Article author photo Razmik Sargsyan
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: September 9, 2021

Infographic

Cabbage vs Broccoli infographic
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Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
35
Cabbage
65
Broccoli
Mineral Summary Score
10
Cabbage
18
Broccoli

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
8%
Cabbage
17%
Broccoli
Carbohydrates
6%
Cabbage
7%
Broccoli
Fats
0%
Cabbage
2%
Broccoli

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Cabbage Broccoli
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Cabbage Broccoli
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Cabbage
Cabbage contains less Sodium (difference - 15mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Cabbage
Cabbage is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.005g)
Which food is cheaper?
Cabbage
Cabbage is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Broccoli
Broccoli is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.5g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Broccoli
Broccoli is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Broccoli
Broccoli is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Broccoli
Broccoli is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Cabbage Broccoli Opinion
Calories 25 34 Broccoli
Protein 1.28 2.82 Broccoli
Fats 0.1 0.37 Broccoli
Vitamin C 36.6 89.2 Broccoli
Carbs 5.8 6.64 Broccoli
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.47 0.73 Broccoli
Calcium 40 47 Broccoli
Potassium 170 316 Broccoli
Magnesium 12 21 Broccoli
Sugar 3.2 1.7 Broccoli
Fiber 2.5 2.6 Broccoli
Copper 0.019 0.049 Broccoli
Zinc 0.18 0.41 Broccoli
Starch 0 0
Phosphorus 26 66 Broccoli
Sodium 18 33 Cabbage
Vitamin A 98 623 Broccoli
Vitamin E 0.15 0.78 Broccoli
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.061 0.071 Broccoli
Vitamin B2 0.04 0.117 Broccoli
Vitamin B3 0.234 0.639 Broccoli
Vitamin B5 0.212 0.573 Broccoli
Vitamin B6 0.124 0.175 Broccoli
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 76 101.6 Broccoli
Folate 43 63 Broccoli
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.034 0.039 Cabbage
Monounsaturated Fat 0.017 0.011 Cabbage
Polyunsaturated fat 0.017 0.038 Broccoli
Tryptophan 0.011 0.033 Broccoli
Threonine 0.035 0.088 Broccoli
Isoleucine 0.03 0.079 Broccoli
Leucine 0.041 0.129 Broccoli
Lysine 0.044 0.135 Broccoli
Methionine 0.012 0.038 Broccoli
Phenylalanine 0.032 0.117 Broccoli
Valine 0.042 0.125 Broccoli
Histidine 0.022 0.059 Broccoli
Fructose 1.45 0.68 Cabbage

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients
  2. Broccoli - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170379/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.