Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata): A food with functional properties aimed to type 2 diabetes prevention and management

J Food Sci. 2021 Nov;86(11):4775-4798. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.15939. Epub 2021 Oct 17.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is increasing the prevalence worldwide at an alarming rate, becoming a serious public health problem that mainly affects developing countries. Functional food research is currently of great interest because it contributes to developing nutritional therapy strategies for T2DM prevention and treatment. Bioactive compounds identified in some plant foods contribute to human health by mechanisms of action that exert biological effects on metabolic pathways involved in the development of T2DM. Hence, vegetables with high bioactive compounds content may be a source of functional value for the control of T2DM. Cabbages varieties (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) such as green (GCB), white (WCB), and red (RCB) are foods consumed (raw or cooked) and cultivated in different regions of the world. Scientific evidence shows that cabbage has multi-target effects on glucose homeostatic regulation due to its high content of bioactive compounds. It has also been shown to decrease damage to organs affected by T2DM complications, such as the liver and kidney. Additionally, it could contribute as a preventive by attenuating problems underlying the development of T2DM as oxidative stress and obesity. This review highlights the functional properties of cabbage varieties involved in glucose regulation and the main mechanisms of the action exerted by their bioactive compounds. In conclusion, cabbage is a valuable food that can be employed as part of nutritional therapy or functional ingredient aimed at the prevention and treatment of T2DM.

Keywords: bioactive compounds; diabetes; diet therapy; functional foods; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brassica*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Functional Food
  • Humans