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Cabbage vs. Napa cabbage — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Sveta Badalyan by Sveta Badalyan | Last updated on February 26, 2024
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Cabbage
vs
Napa cabbage

Summary

Cabbage has more calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins C, B1, B2, B5, and B6. On the other hand, napa cabbage is higher in copper, selenium, iron, manganese, and vitamins A and B3. Moreover, napa cabbage has less sodium and calories, whereas cabbage is high in net carbs and fiber.

Introduction

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) originated in Europe, specifically around the Mediterranean. 

Napa cabbage (Brassica rapa) is native to China. It is commonly used in East Asian cuisine and is now grown in many parts of the world with suitable climates.

Nutrition

In this part of the article, we will compare the nutritional values of raw cabbage and cooked napa cabbage, concentrating on the differences.

Macronutrients and Calories

Cabbage and napa cabbage consist mainly of water, cabbage being a little denser. Cabbage contains 92% water, whereas napa cabbage contains 96% water. 

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +16.4%
Contains more Carbs +160.1%
Contains more Other +276.5%
Contains more Fats +70%
Equal in Water - 96.33
6% 92%
Protein: 1.28 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 5.8 g
Water: 92.18 g
Other: 0.64 g
2% 96%
Protein: 1.1 g
Fats: 0.17 g
Carbs: 2.23 g
Water: 96.33 g
Other: 0.17 g
Contains more Protein +16.4%
Contains more Carbs +160.1%
Contains more Other +276.5%
Contains more Fats +70%
Equal in Water - 96.33

Calories

Compared to napa cabbage, cabbage has over two times more calories. A hundred grams of cabbage provides 25 calories, while napa cabbage has 12 calories.

Protein and Fats

Cabbage and napa cabbage are not good sources of protein and fats. A hundred grams of cabbage has 1.28 grams of protein, whereas napa cabbage provides 1.1 grams.

They contain less than 0.5g of fat. In a 100g serving, cabbage and napa cabbage have 0.1g and 0.17g of fat, respectively.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
50% 25% 25%
Saturated Fat: 0.034 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.017 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.017 g

Carbohydrates

Overall, cabbage has more total carbs compared to napa cabbage. In a 100g serving, cabbage and napa cabbage have 5.8g and 2.23g of total carbs, respectively. A hundred grams of cabbage has 3.3g of net carbs, whereas napa cabbage provides 2.23g. Cabbage also provides 2.5g of dietary fiber.

Carbohydrate type comparison

Carbohydrate type breakdown side-by-side comparison
2% 52% 45%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 0.08 g
Glucose: 1.67 g
Fructose: 1.45 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0.01 g
Galactose: 0 g

Vitamins

Cabbage has 11.5 times more vitamin C, whereas napa cabbage provides 2.5 times more vitamin A. In a 100g serving, cabbage and napa cabbage have 36.6mg and 3.2mg of vitamin C, respectively. 

 A hundred grams of cabbage 98IU of vitamin A, while napa cabbage provides 263IU. Moreover, cabbage has more vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6, whereas napa cabbage has more vitamin B3. It also has a small amount of vitamin K. They have equal amounts of folate.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin C +1043.8%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1120%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +60%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +505.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +235.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +168.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +99.1%
Equal in Folate - 43
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 6% 3% 0% 122% 16% 10% 5% 13% 29% 33% 0% 6% 190%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 16% 0% 0% 11% 2% 6% 9% 3% 9% 33% 0% 0% 0%
Contains more Vitamin C +1043.8%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1120%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +60%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +505.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +235.1%
Contains more Vitamin A +168.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +99.1%
Equal in Folate - 43

Minerals

Cabbage is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. In contrast, napa cabbage has more copper, iron, manganese, and selenium. It also has less sodium than cabbage. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +37.9%
Contains more Magnesium +50%
Contains more Phosphorus +36.8%
Contains more Potassium +95.4%
Contains more Zinc +28.6%
Contains more Iron +57.4%
Contains less Sodium -38.9%
Contains more Copper +405.3%
Contains more Manganese +26.9%
Contains more Selenium +33.3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 12% 18% 9% 12% 15% 3% 5% 7% 21% 2%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 9% 28% 6% 9% 8% 2% 4% 32% 27% 3%
Contains more Calcium +37.9%
Contains more Magnesium +50%
Contains more Phosphorus +36.8%
Contains more Potassium +95.4%
Contains more Zinc +28.6%
Contains more Iron +57.4%
Contains less Sodium -38.9%
Contains more Copper +405.3%
Contains more Manganese +26.9%
Contains more Selenium +33.3%

Acidity

The PRAL value indicates how a food can break down into acids or bases in the body. Cabbage has a PRAL level of -2.8, while napa cabbage has a PRAL value of -1.2. Both are alkaline-forming.

Weight Loss & Diets

Vegan/ Vegetarian: Cabbage and napa cabbage are vegan and vegetarian-friendly as they are plant-based vegetables.

Keto: The keto diet includes low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein foods. 

Cabbage and napa cabbage are considered keto-friendly vegetables. They are low in carbohydrates and can be part of the ketogenic diet.

Paleo: The paleo diet emphasizes eating natural, unadulterated foods and avoiding manufactured foods. Cabbage and napa cabbage can be part of the "safe" or "approved" foods list in the paleo diet, as they are whole, unprocessed vegetables.

DASH: Cabbage and napa cabbage are high in nutrients and low in calories, making them excellent choices for a DASH-friendly diet. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to help lower blood pressure and improve overall health.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

High consumption of cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and napa cabbage, may promote cardiovascular health and longevity (1).

Cabbage extract, abundant in natural antioxidants, offers protection against cardiovascular diseases induced by oxidative stress. The study confirms that cabbage extract can increase cell viability, inhibit ROS production, and upregulate antioxidant proteins in cardiomyoblasts (2). 

Diabetes

Brassica vegetables like cabbage and napa cabbage contain phenolic compounds and have anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties.

Based on the findings, Brassica effectively lowered fasting blood glucose to normal levels and relieved diabetes-related complications (3). 

The findings of the study suggest that cabbage extract has the potential to help manage type 2 diabetes mellitus (4).

According to another study, the consumption of Brassica vegetables does not significantly affect serum levels of fasting blood sugar, glycated hemoglobin, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. On the other hand, there is a statistically significant impact on total cholesterol concentration (5). 

Cancer

Brassica vegetables, including cabbages, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, may have a cancer-preventive effect due to their high glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates, broken down into hydrolysis products like indoles and isothiocyanates, can influence enzyme activities related to carcinogenesis. Cabbage and napa cabbage consumption may decrease the risk of lung, stomach, colon, and rectal cancer (6).

Classification

Cabbage and napa cabbage belong to the family Brassicaceae and the genus Brassica. While both cabbage and Napa cabbage share the same genus, Brassica, they are different species. 

Cabbage: Brassica oleracea

"Oleracea" means it's a variant of the wild cabbage species.

It includes various cultivars like green, red, and savoy cabbage.

Napa cabbage: Brassica rapa variety pekinensis 

"Rapa" indicates its turnip-like origins. "Pekinensis" denotes its association with Peking (now Beijing).

Appearance

Cabbage has a round shape with tightly packed leaves. The leaves are thick and crunchy, forming a dense head. In contrast, napa cabbage has an elongated shape with loosely packed, elongated leaves. It is light green with pale white veins running through the leaves, and the texture is more delicate and tender than cabbage.

Cabbage is typically green or red/purple, depending on the variety. Napa cabbage has a pale green hue. 

Taste and Use

Raw cabbage has a strong, slightly peppery flavor. When cooked, the flavor becomes milder and sweeter. On the other hand, napa cabbage is milder and sweeter than cabbage. It has a delicate flavor that works well in coleslaw, salads, and stir-fries. Cabbage can be steamed, boiled, sautéed, and roasted

Napa cabbage is often used raw by thinly slicing it for salads or slaws. Cooked napa cabbage you can add to stir-fries, soups, and stews. Napa cabbage is a main ingredient in making kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented dish. 

Cabbage generally has a longer cooking time compared to napa cabbage. Napa cabbage has more delicate leaves and a softer texture, so it cooks faster than the denser leaves of regular cabbage.

Varieties

Napa (Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage), red, savoy, green cabbage, and bok choy (pak choi) are common types of cabbage.

These types vary in taste, texture, and appearance, offering a range of options for different dishes. For example, savoy cabbage has crinkled, dark green leaves that are more tender and less dense than other varieties. Red cabbage (purple cabbage) has deep red or purple leaves.

Article author photo Sveta Badalyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: February 26, 2024
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian

Infographic

Cabbage vs Napa cabbage infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Cabbage Napa cabbage
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Cabbage Napa cabbage Opinion
Net carbs 3.3g 2.23g Cabbage
Protein 1.28g 1.1g Cabbage
Fats 0.1g 0.17g Napa cabbage
Carbs 5.8g 2.23g Cabbage
Calories 25kcal 12kcal Cabbage
Fructose 1.45g Cabbage
Sugar 3.2g Napa cabbage
Fiber 2.5g Cabbage
Calcium 40mg 29mg Cabbage
Iron 0.47mg 0.74mg Napa cabbage
Magnesium 12mg 8mg Cabbage
Phosphorus 26mg 19mg Cabbage
Potassium 170mg 87mg Cabbage
Sodium 18mg 11mg Napa cabbage
Zinc 0.18mg 0.14mg Cabbage
Copper 0.019mg 0.096mg Napa cabbage
Manganese 0.16mg 0.203mg Napa cabbage
Selenium 0.3µg 0.4µg Napa cabbage
Vitamin A 98IU 263IU Napa cabbage
Vitamin A RAE 5µg 13µg Napa cabbage
Vitamin E 0.15mg Cabbage
Vitamin C 36.6mg 3.2mg Cabbage
Vitamin B1 0.061mg 0.005mg Cabbage
Vitamin B2 0.04mg 0.025mg Cabbage
Vitamin B3 0.234mg 0.466mg Napa cabbage
Vitamin B5 0.212mg 0.035mg Cabbage
Vitamin B6 0.124mg 0.037mg Cabbage
Folate 43µg 43µg
Choline 10.7mg Cabbage
Vitamin K 76µg Cabbage
Tryptophan 0.011mg Cabbage
Threonine 0.035mg Cabbage
Isoleucine 0.03mg Cabbage
Leucine 0.041mg Cabbage
Lysine 0.044mg Cabbage
Methionine 0.012mg Cabbage
Phenylalanine 0.032mg Cabbage
Valine 0.042mg Cabbage
Histidine 0.022mg Cabbage
Saturated Fat 0.034g Napa cabbage
Monounsaturated Fat 0.017g Cabbage
Polyunsaturated fat 0.017g Cabbage

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Cabbage Napa cabbage
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
33%
Cabbage
7%
Napa cabbage
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
10%
Cabbage
12%
Napa cabbage

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.2g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage contains less Sodium (difference - 7mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.034g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is cheaper?
Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Cabbage
Cabbage is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

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.

  1. Cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients
  2. Napa cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168572/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.