Yes, cooked cabbage can be a nutritious and keto-friendly vegetable. Cabbage is low in carbohydrates and calories, and provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When cooked, cabbage becomes softer and easier to digest while still retaining its nutrients. Cooked cabbage can be incorporated into a variety of keto-friendly recipes.
An Overview of the Keto Diet
The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that shares similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. The goal of keto is to put the body in a metabolic state called “ketosis” where fat becomes the primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.
Ketosis occurs when carb intake is drastically reduced, usually to less than 50g per day. This reduction in carbs forces the body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
To achieve and sustain ketosis, the keto diet typically limits carbs to 5-10% of calories and protein to 20-30%, with fat making up 60-75% of calories. Keto requires focusing on high-fat foods like meat, fish, eggs, oils, butter, nuts, seeds, and low-carb vegetables.
Benefits of Keto
- Can lead to significant weight loss, especially rapid loss in the first few weeks
- Reduces hunger and appetite due to the increased satiety and appetite-regulating effects of fat and protein
- Improves markers of metabolic syndrome including blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides
- May benefit certain neurological conditions like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease
- Increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
Potential Drawbacks of Keto
- Difficult to adhere to long-term due to very restrictive carb intake
- Can cause side effects in the initial adaptation phase known as the “keto flu”
- Eliminates many healthy carb-containing foods like fruits, starchy veggies, beans/legumes, and whole grains
- May not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions like thyroid issues or gallbladder problems
- Could potentially increase LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people
Nutritional Profile of Cooked Cabbage
Cabbage is considered a keto-friendly vegetable because it is low in digestible carbs and calories, yet high in beneficial nutrients.
One cup of cooked chopped cabbage nutrition contains:
|Vitamin C||54% DV|
|Vitamin K||85% DV|
When looking at net digestible carbs by subtracting fiber, one cup contains only 5.8 grams of net carbs. This fits easily into a keto diet plan. Cabbage is also very low in calories with only 33 calories per cup when cooked.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants
Cooked cabbage contains impressive amounts of certain vitamins and antioxidants. One cup provides over half the RDI for vitamin C and vitamin K. It also contains some folate and potassium.
In addition, cabbage is rich in powerful plant compounds like anthocyanins and sulfur-containing compounds. These function as antioxidants to combat oxidative stress and inflammation.
Comparing Raw vs Cooked Cabbage for Keto
Both raw and cooked cabbage can fit into a keto diet. Here is a comparison:
- Crunchy, crisp texture
- More bitter, sulfur-like taste
- Higher in some nutrients like vitamin C
- Harder to digest due to insoluble fiber content
- More likely to cause bloating/gas
- Softer, more tender texture
- Milder, more palatable flavor
- Lower in certain heat-sensitive nutrients
- Easier to digest while retaining insoluble fiber
- Less likely to cause digestive issues
Both raw and cooked cabbage work for keto. Raw may be too hard to digest in large amounts. Light cooking softens the cabbage while preserving most nutrients.
Keto-Friendly Ways to Cook Cabbage
Here are some healthy ways to cook cabbage while following a keto diet:
Chopped cabbage sautéed in olive oil or avocado oil with garlic, salt, and pepper makes a quick and delicious side dish.
Steaming above boiling water retains moisture and preserves more nutrients than boiling. Season with herbs and spices.
Toss shredded cabbage in a hot wok with sesame oil, soy sauce or coconut aminos, garlic, and ginger for an Asian-inspired stir-fry.
Toss cabbage wedges with avocado oil and seasonings. Roast at 400°F until deeply caramelized and tender.
Add chopped cabbage to bone broth with keto-approved veggies and meats for a nutrient-dense soup.
Fill large cabbage leaves with keto-friendly fillings like ground meat, cauliflower rice, herbs, and cheese. Bake or simmer until tender.
Potential Concerns with Cabbage on Keto
Cabbage is safe for keto diets for most people, but a few downsides exist:
- Gas and bloating – The carbohydrates in cabbage that can’t be digested, mainly insoluble fiber, may cause gas and bloating. Introduce cooked cabbage slowly.
- Goitrogens – Raw cabbage contains compounds called goitrogens that may interfere with thyroid function by impacting thyroid hormone synthesis when consumed in excess.
- Kidney stones – Those prone to developing kidney stones should moderate oxalate-rich foods like cabbage. Cook cabbage to reduce oxalates.
- Nutrient deficiency – The keto diet alone can potentially lead to deficiencies in some nutrients like magnesium that cabbage provides. Be sure to also eat a balanced keto diet.
Cooked cabbage can be a healthy addition to a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It provides very few digestible carbs per serving, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Cook cabbage by steaming, sautéing, roasting, or adding to soups to obtain the benefits while avoiding digestive issues from eating large amounts raw. This versatile cruciferous vegetable can be worked into keto meal plans in many ways.
As with any vegetable, cabbage should be one component of a balanced low-carb diet to support overall health.