Do you love cabbage? If you’re consuming copious quantities of the cruciferous vegetable, you should know that it does have some side effects. If you’ve been eating large amounts to ease stomach pain, ulcers or even your morning sickness if you’re pregnant, you’ll want to read on. Also, if you’re someone who can’t get enough of their cabbage or are on a cabbage diet of some form, this may apply to you too!
The outcome from multiple epidemiological studies seems to be that an adult in good health should be able to have about five servings a week of cruciferous vegetables. Try and stick to half a cup to one cup of raw cabbage per serving.1
Remember, though, each of our bodies is built differently. So what may be easily digested by one person may be too much for you. You will need to figure out your own threshold and just how much you can eat without these side effects.
1. Increased Flatulence
Gas or Flatulence. Possibly the most infamous of all of cabbage’s side effects, this is one you’ve probably heard of. And it is true. Like broccoli, cauliflower, bran and beans, cabbage too is not easily digested by the enzymes of your small intestine. When they reach your colon, the bacteria act on them, creating gas. If you experience flatulence or bloating, or find yourself belching often as a result of eating cabbage, abstaining from this vegetable is the only way to stop the problem.2
2. Iodine Deficiency And Thyroid Problems
Having too much cabbage could interfere with the normal functioning of your thyroid. This is because it doesn’t allow iodine uptake by the thyroid to proceed normally. Taken over an extended period of time in large amounts, it may result in an iodine deficiency, and you might even develop hypothyroidism or goiter. Occasionally eating some is fine, though. Just don’t overdo it, especially if you’re also eating other foods like kale, cauliflower, spinach, pine nuts, mustard green, turnips, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or millet, which can also disrupt thyroid function.3
Those who have digestive ailments like irritable bowel syndrome would do well to avoid cabbage, which is high in raffinose (a type of sugar called a trisaccharide) and not easily digested.4 Cabbage contains a lot of insoluble fiber – the average serving of 100 gm of raw cabbage has about 2.5 gm of fiber.5 All that fiber that’s good for your digestive system, when taken in excess, can be problematic. You may end up blocking your intestines or bringing on a bout of diarrhea.
4. Low Blood Sugar Levels
When it comes to helping regulate blood sugar levels, cabbage can be as much a friend as a foe. While it has the ability to lower blood glucose levels, consuming large amounts steadily can cause sugar levels to dip too low. This could potentially cause hypoglycemia if you aren’t careful. This is the very reason why you should stay off it in the lead up to any surgery – it could throw off the regulation of your blood sugar post-operation and during recovery.6
5. Colic In Your Breastfed Baby
Remember how cabbage causes gas build-up and flatulence in adults? If you’re a breastfeeding mother, research shows that your diet could have an impact on the baby too. In general, it is suggested that you stay off any foods that cause colic in the baby. Have you been eating a lot of cabbage of late? That could well be the reason for your baby’s colic.7
6. Interaction With Anticoagulants
Cabbage contains 38.2 µg of vitamin K, a natural aid to clotting. 8 Because anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs work to prevent coagulation, vitamin K could counter their effect or change their effectiveness. Which is why you should speak to your doctor about how much cabbage you can safely consume without it affecting your medication’s efficacy.9
|↑1||Cruciferous Vegetables, Linus Pauling Institute.|
|↑2||Sharma, Sanjay. “Belching, Bloating, Flatulence-Causes and Simple Cures.” Global Journal For Research Analysis 4, no. 5 (2016).|
|↑3||Hypothyroidism, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑4||Diet and IBS, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.|
|↑5||National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, USDA.|
|↑6||Platel, Kalpana, and K. Srinivasan. “Plant foods in the management of diabetes mellitus: vegetables as potential hypoglycaemic agents.” Food/Nahrung 41, no. 2 (1997): 68-74.|
|↑7||Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.|
|↑8||National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, USDA.|
|↑9||Vitamin K, US National Library of Medicine.|