Cabbage vs. Broccoli — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
While cabbage is lower in sodium content, about 45% less than broccoli, broccoli contains 55% more iron, 157% more copper, and 127% more zinc.
Regarding vitamin content, broccoli contains 535% more vitamin A, 192% more vitamin B2, and 420% more vitamin E.
Table of contents
Cabbage and broccoli are vegetables belonging to the same Brassica genus but look very different in appearance. This article will discover the similarities and differences between these vegetables.
Cabbage and broccoli share the same genus, Brassica. Still, they are assigned different species names, Brassica oleracea of the Italica cultivar for broccoli and Brassica oleracea of the capitata cultivar for cabbage.
It is pretty easy to distinguish broccoli from cabbage, even though they are from the same genus.
Both cabbage and broccoli have their varieties. Cabbage usually differs in color (purple, red); however, there are types of broccoli that are different in their appearance too. The most common type of broccoli usually appears in dark green with a tree-like structure, while cabbage is usually layered.
Taste and Use
Both cabbage and broccoli are widely used as raw foods and in salads and other dishes like soup. While it is common to consume raw cabbage, in general, the taste of the cabbage may vary based on its type. It is more common to use broccoli in food because of its tasteless feature.
Broccoli and cabbage differ in their growing conditions too. The most common type of broccoli is an annual plant, while cabbage is biennial.
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 color, the calabrese can be white or purple with more heads and many thin stems.
Cabbage has some cultivars, including Savoy, green, red, or purple, and napa or Chinese cabbage.
In this article, we will discuss green cabbage and calabrese broccoli.
Like most vegetables, cabbage and broccoli are mainly composed of water, but the numbers are different. That number is 92.2% for cabbage and 89.3% for broccoli.
Like most vegetables, broccoli and cabbage are low in calories, but cabbage contains fewer calories than broccoli, about 25 kcal per 100g.
Protein and Fats
Cabbage is the absolute winner in total fat composition. Per 100g, it contains about 0.1g, whereas, in the case of broccoli, it is about 0.37g. Broccoli is also higher in protein; cabbage contains about 1.28g, while broccoli a bit more, 2.82g per 100g.
Cabbage and broccoli contain about the same number of carbohydrates, but broccoli contains slightly more than cabbage, about 6.64g per 100g.
When it comes to fiber, both vegetables contain almost the same amount. Regarding sugars, broccoli contains twice less than cabbage, 1.7g per 100g.
Broccoli is a fantastic source of vitamin C and vitamin A; per 100g, it contains 89.2mg and 623IU, respectively. Broccoli is 6 times higher in vitamin A and 2 richer in vitamin C.
However, a 100g serving of broccoli can fulfill the daily required amount of vitamin C. Broccoli is richer in vitamins B2, B3, and B6.
Broccoli wins the mineral competition as well, containing more potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and iron.
Vegetables are considered to be foods with low glycemic indexes; cabbage and broccoli are no exceptions.
While exact numbers for the glycemic index values of these vegetables have not yet been calculated, they are assumed to be low due to high fiber content and low amounts of sugar.
This page provides more information about how cabbage affects blood glucose levels.
Both cabbage and broccoli are slightly acidic and may vary based on their cultivars and growing conditions.
For the cabbage, the pH value is estimated to be around 5.50 - 6.75, and for broccoli, it is 6.30 - 6.85, making it slightly more acidic than cabbage (1).
Even though both vegetables are slightly acidic, they are not considered acid-forming foods. Relating to the potential renal acid load (PRAL), the value is -2.8 for cabbage and -4 for broccoli, making them alkaline-forming. The PRAL shows the potential of food to produce acid inside the organism during metabolism.
For decades vegetables have been known as the best option for weight loss. It has been found that long-term vegetable consumption prevents weight gain.
Due to low-calorie content, richness in water, and relatively high amount of fiber, broccoli and cabbages are good options to consider when planning a weight loss diet. Being low in carbohydrates makes both of them suitable for keto diets.
It is suggested to cook both vegetables on steam, which affects nutrient composition the least (2).
Broccoli and cabbage are rich in certain micronutrients and vitamins. Below, we will discuss their impact on human health.
Cabbage and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables. Research shows that both cabbage and broccoli can positively affect cardiovascular health due to their phytochemical composition, lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (3). One study discusses the effects of various vegetables on the cardiovascular system and their associated diseases.
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 an adequate chemoprotective substance, as it inhibits tumor growth and increases cancer cells’ sensitivity to chemotherapy (4, 5).
Using at least five servings (2½ cups) a day is suggested for the cruciferous plants. Both cabbage and broccoli are rich in antioxidants, which may also positively affect cancer prevention.
It is also shown that growth time affects the anticancer activity of broccoli. For example, broccoli collected in October had the highest cancer cell inhibition activity (6).
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. Low amounts of daily consumption have a positive effect overall; however, high amounts may have harmful side effects on individuals with type 2 diabetes (7).
One study concerning broccoli shows that its consumption needs to be under control. While specific amounts of broccoli may affect positively, overuse can lead to hypoglycemia in patients who have diabetes (5).
Broccoli is high in vitamin K and calcium, two nutrients that can help to keep your bones strong and healthy.
According to a test-tube study, the sulforaphane present in broccoli may help prevent osteoarthritis. However, more research is required (8).
Fat Type Comparison
Carbohydrate type comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||5µg||31µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients
- 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.