What Is Napa Cabbage? Nutrients, Recipes & More

Apr
05

What Is Napa Cabbage? Nutrients, Recipes & More

Napa cabbage, or Chinese cabbage, is a leafy green vegetable that has been a longtime staple in Asian cuisine. Unlike the typical round and dense American variety, it has a longer, oblong shape with thicker ribs and more delicate greens. This makes for a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. The nutrients in Napa cabbage are similar to green cabbage in that they are both very low-calorie vegetables, however, there are some nutrients where Napa cabbage brings more benefit to the table. 

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Napa cabbage at store

Napa Cabbage Nutrition

Despite sharing a name, Napa and green cabbages carry different amounts of specific nutrients. Below is the nutrition information for 1 cup raw shredded Napa and green cabbage. Keep this nutrition chart handy whether you are still getting used to counting carbs for diabetes management or need phosphorus or potassium information for kidney disease management. It may be of note to anyone with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) that Napa cabbage contains around 50 percent more potassium compared to green cabbage. However, most people with CKD don’t need to restrict potassium and this is still considered a lower potassium vegetable!

NutrientNapa CabbageGreen Cabbage
Calories1218
Protein1g1g
Fat0g0g
Carbs2g4g
Fiber1g2g
Phosphorus22mg18mg
Potassium181mg119mg
Sodium7mg13mg
Vitamin C21mg26mg
Vitamin K33µg53µg

Nutrition is based on data from USDA FoodData Central as of 2/18/2024

Health Benefits

Including Napa cabbage in your diet can help promote good digestive health, aid in weight management, and can be a great source of antioxidants. 

  1. Digestive Health

With 1g of fiber for every 1 cup of shredded cabbage, it can be easy to add a few additional grams of fiber to your meal. Fiber is an important nutrient when it comes to lowering cholesterol, improving gut health, and feeling full & satisfied for longer. Remember, cabbage cooks down similarly to other leafy greens so it is easy to get multiple cups into one meal!

  1. Weight Management

Thanks to its low-calorie and high water content, Napa cabbage is a great food to add to your plate when looking to manage your weight. It is considered a high-volume food, meaning it helps to contribute to a feeling of fullness, reducing the likelihood of overeating. 

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C, helping to strengthen your immune system.

What is Napa Cabbage Best Used For?

Nearly all cabbage recipes can be easily interchanged with any variety of cabbage, and it’s really up to the personal preference on how to enjoy it. Napa cabbage is particularly enjoyable to eat raw as it has a much milder flavor than American green cabbage and has more tender leaves, making it a great option to mix into salads. 

Other ideas to enjoy Napa cabbage in a nutrient-dense way are:

  • Kimchi: This may be the most well-known use of Napa cabbage. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made with cabbage, salt, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. 
  • Stir-Fries: Napa cabbage’s tender texture makes it a perfect choice to add to stir-fries. Separate the thicker, white ribs and cook first. Then, add the leafy green portion towards the end of cooking and wilt.
  • Salads/Slaws: As mentioned, Napa cabbage is very mild and will absorb any flavor from a dressing well. It also adds a refreshing crunch to your salad!
  • Soups: Chop and cook the white ribs during the same step you would with onions and other soup aromatics. Then, add the leafy green portion towards the end of cooking and wilt.

Napa Cabbage Recipes

Roasted Napa Cabbage

2 wedges of napa cabbage that is roasted and topped with dijon mustard sauce, sesame seeds, and scallions

Roasted Napa Cabbage

Edith
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 97 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head Napa cabbage cut lengthwise into quarters
  • Avocado or Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar unpacked
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic minced or grated
  • optional garnish – sliced chiles, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, roasted sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spray the cabbage with cooking spray and place cut side down on the baking sheet.
  • Bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes, until cabbage is wilted, warm, and slightly brown.
  • While cabbage is baking in the oven, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until well combined.
  • Remove pan from oven and brush the oil mixture onto the leaves. 
  • Set your oven to the broil setting and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes until slightly caramelized. 
  • You can serve these as is or cut into smaller pieces. Add your garnish of choice.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge up to 5 days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 253mgPotassium: 570mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 724IUVitamin C: 61mgCalcium: 187mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Summary

In conclusion, Napa cabbage is full of nutrients and highly versatile in the kitchen. Whether you enjoy it cooked into a stir fry or soup, fermented as kimchi, or shredded raw into a salad, you know you are getting a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is a great vegetable to add to your diet to support digestive health and weight management. 

Lastly, Napa cabbage has a slightly different nutrient profile than green cabbage. Most notably for anyone living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), Napa cabbage contains about 50% more potassium than green cabbage. 

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Registered Dietitian with over 10 years of experience sharing nutrition knowledge that you can use to enjoy food again

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