Cabbage vs Broccoli - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Broccoli wins the mineral competition too, it contains more potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and iron.
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.
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.
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).
Broccoli and cabbage are rich in certain micronutrients and vitamins, further, we will discuss their impact on human 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).
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).
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).
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.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
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|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values