Nutrition: Brassica oleracea

Cabbage, kale and more.

By Eric Chen, WAC Nutritionist and Wellness Coach

Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one species that is a favorite of mine. It’s called Brassica oleracea, and it’s a kind of wild cabbage that has been cultivated by a variety of different cultures since the 5th century BC.

Brassica oleracea has been so successful and loved since the advent of agriculture that we’ve been able to germinate plants with specific traits and favorable characteristics. After many years of selective breeding, we now have amazing variations of the plant, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, Romanesca cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and Broccolini.

The vegetables classified as part of the Brassica oleracea species are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies around. These vegetables are extremely low in calories, packed with fiber, and contain a surprising amount of protein. A three-cup serving of kale has only 100 calories but provides 9 grams of protein. On a micronutrient level, these superfoods are unparalleled in their amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, and B vitamins. A combination of fiber and antioxidants lend cancer-preventing properties to the many varieties of Brassica oleracea. So, load up on some Brassica oleracea the next time you’re at the grocery store!

Here are some ways to eat a few members of my favorite vegetable family.

  • Put together a salad or slaw using kale or cabbage. Massaging kale with citrus and a little oil, or letting cabbage marinate in dressing, removes some bitterness.
  • Roast the more compact varietals of Brassica oleracea, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.
  • Snack on raw crunchy kohlrabi and hummus.

—Published March 15, 2017


More Athletics & Wellness

Weight loss and you
Moving Well to Manage Arthritis
How stress impacts our health