Vital Veg – The dynamic duo

August 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Natural Medicine, Wellness

Cabbage is not everyone’s favourite food – shades of school dinners and that terrible lingering smell as it boiled away all morning – and celery, too, can be an acquired taste you either love or loathe, but these two vegetables can immeasurably improve your health. Here are some of the really good reasons to include cabbage in your diet on a regular basis:

On a diet? An average portion is around 15 calories, so it can help you lose weight, while feeling full. It is also full of vitamin C which many believe helps your cells to burn fat.

It contains phytonutrients that help protect you from the free radicals (cancer causing agents) that can damage your cell walls.

Helps to clean and detox your liver of impurities by stimulating the production of the antioxidant glutathione.

The lactic acid in it can help disinfect your colon to inhibit growth of bacteria.

Promotes healthy, glowing skin because of the amounts of vitamin E it contains.

Keeps your eyes healthy with a good dose of vitamin A. All that applies to the white and green cabbage varieties, however if you add in some red cabbage you will be getting a bonus in the form of anthocyanin, an antioxidant which is responsible for its red colour. However it’s not there just to make it look good alongside your Lancashire hotpot, the traditional accompaniment to this winter dish. It has several vital roles to play in supporting your mental health as it helps protect your brain cells, and this is the reason many scientists now believe it could have a role in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Again, like it’s green cousins, it can also help if you are dieting as anthocyanins also have potential as ‘fat-fighters’, according to a Japanese study carried out in February 2008. They reported that the antioxidants in red cabbage could help tackle metabolic syndrome (MetS), which can cause obesity, hypertension, and insulin problems.

Enough about cabbage – what about celery? In my childhood it appeared in water in a cut glass jug to accompany Sunday tea and I avoided it like the plague. Now, I enjoy it on a daily basis – more later. So what is celery good for? Well more good news for dieters, as it can help suppress your appetite and that can help you slim. If you are an anxious type then celery can be useful as it has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Celery contains ‘pthalides’, compounds which can help relax your artery muscles, and have an effect on lowering your blood pressure – always a good idea if you are anxious, and those same compounds also reduce your levels of stress hormone, which help keep your blood vessels relaxed and open. It’s the leaves, rather than the stalks that contain the biggest concentration of the pthalides, so chop finely and add to salads, don’t just eat the crisp stem.


I promised an easy way to eat these two vital veg, and I will let you into a secret. I really don’t like eating vegetables at all. There are a favoured few, but mainly I count potatoes as my only ‘much-loved’ vegetable. But, I know how important it is to get those nutrients, so I juice my vegetables instead. The quickest way to get the benefits of cabbage is to drink 25-50 ml of fresh, raw cabbage juice each day. This is based on research done in the early 1950s by Dr Garnett Cheney who found that peptic ulcer patients who drank 4 glasses of raw cabbage juice daily quickened the healing process and relieved the pain. A quarter of an average cabbage will give you that amount, throw in some celery with the leaves and you have an amazing cocktail. If you want it a little sweeter pop in a carrot. You can juice pretty much anything and everything, and there are some great juice recipe books on the market – please try to use organic veg where possible and drink the juice the second you have made it – don’t let it stand or it will start to oxidise on contact with the air and it doesn’t look very pretty either. I start the day usually by juicing an apple, a carrot, couple sticks of celery, half a grapefruit and a piece of ginger. If you haven’t time for breakfast, then that will really set you up.

Juice benefits for Alzheimer’s

A recently concluded study which investigated Alzheimer’s disease in older Japanese populations living in Japan, Hawaii and Seattle, has found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week had a 76 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank juice less than once per week.

This ten-year study was based on the fact that there is a very low incidence rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the Japanese population in their native country, but when Japanese people in the USA were studied they were found to have almost the same incidence rates as Americans have. Obviously this indicates that environmental factors like diet and lifestyle are important contributors to disease risk, but that the benefit of drinking juice was most apparent in those people who carry the genetic marker linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of the disease, which typically occurs after the age of 65.

Further research is being done on exactly what types of juice that would bring most benefit but from a natural healing viewpoint the most likely would seem to be pomegranate, cherry, red grape juice, red wine and fresh juiced vegetables. The researchers say that their findings are not yet conclusive so cannot be guaranteed to prevent Alzheimer’s but common sense would indicate that freshly juiced fruit and vegetables have all their essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes and would certainly improve overall health generally if not Alzheimer’s specifically.