We have all been there! Everyone with a sensitive stomach knows the mild or at times stabbing pain that can be caused by excessive gas.
If you notice a build-up of gas after eating cabbage then this isn’t a coincidence!
Does cabbage cause gas? Yes, cabbage contains complex carbohydrates called raffinose and fructan which can be particularly difficult to digest for some individuals. The best way to lower the ability of cabbage to create gas is to properly cook it to break down these compounds.
Read below to learn more about how to cook cabbage properly, and some tips to reduce gas caused by cabbage.
Why Does Cabbage Cause Gas?
Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, the same family that also includes other popular vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts – and all of them have one thing in common: they contain the same complex carbs that usually leads to a build-up of gas in the stomach.
Gas is caused by increased activity in the gut after eating a meal.
Since cabbage contains complex carbs, the bacteria in your gut begin to ferment the food, and as a byproduct of this process, gas is formed.
The important thing to note here is that not everyone will experience gas after eating cabbage.
It is unclear as to why cabbage affects some people and not others but doctors think it has to do with the gut biome of every individual.
If you have a sensitive tummy and have difficulty digesting raw vegetables then it is likely that eating cabbage will cause you to develop more gas.
The symptoms of gas are usually sharp, dull, or on-and-off pain or pressure around the stomach area.
Don’t worry though, unless you have had a severe reaction in the past, you will eventually digest the vegetable after a while and the symptoms will subside.
If the symptoms persist, then it’s best to take any over-the-counter medicine to calm down your stomach. You can also refer to your health provider for more information.
Tips for Reducing Gas Caused by Cabbage
There are three main ways to reduce the gassiness of cabbage:
- Cooking (Steaming, roasting, sauteing)
- Eating smaller portions
- Cooking cabbage with pro-digestive ingredients
As explained above, cooking is by far the easiest way to render the compounds that cause gas.
When you expose the cabbage to heat, the compounds break down and significantly go down in quantity which either eliminates or reduces the ability of cabbage to cause gas.
There are several ways to cook cabbage like roasting, steaming, boiling, sautéing, and more. All of them are effective at reducing the gas-causing compounds in the cabbage.
For the best results though, we recommend that you cut and blanch cabbage in boiling water to reduce its effects.
Boiling the vegetable exposes it to heat evenly which means that you are likely to experience less gas by using the blanching or boiling method.
Please keep in mind that the goal is not to overcook the cabbage or turn it soggy! Ideally, you would want to cook the cabbage just enough so that it is neither too firm nor too soggy.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cook cabbage:
Step 1) Cut the cabbage into smaller portions or dice them.
Step 2) Wash the cut pieces of cabbage and keep them submerged in a bowl with water for at least 30-45 minutes. This will hydrate the cabbage and may make it easier to cook it.
Step 3) Bring a pot of water to a boil. You can also add salt to the water if needed.
Step 4) You should ideally cook the cabbage using any method for no more than 3-5 minutes. The cooking time will depend on your preference so you are free to experiment with it. We recommend tasting a small piece of cabbage after cooking it to determine its doneness.
Note) Always cook the cabbage in intervals of 2-3 minutes for the best experience. Please note that these same instructions apply to any type of cooking method.
Eating Smaller Portions
Another way to reduce the gassiness of cabbage is to eat smaller portions. Eating smaller portions of cooked cabbage can significantly reduce its ability to cause gas.
Ideally, you should aim to eat 1-2 cups (150 -300 grams) of cooked cabbage. This portion size is usually perfect for a range of recipes and can easily satiate one adult.
We don’t recommend that you eat more cabbage unless you don’t experience any gas-related symptoms.
You can also cut the cabbage in different ways to cook it better.
As a general rule of thumb, the thinner you cut the cabbage the more likely it is to cook evenly.
Large pieces of cabbage are usually the culprits behind excess gas since it takes more time for dense pieces of cabbage to cook.
Using Pro-Digestive Ingredients
You can also apply a bit of food science to make cabbage less likely to cause gas!
Cooking cabbage with ingredients that aid in digestion is by far the best way to reduce or even eliminate the gas-causing compounds in cabbage.
Ingredients like ginger, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and turmeric can significantly reduce gas and can also pair extremely well with cabbage in several recipes.
If your tummy is particularly sensitive then you should go for recipes that use pro-digestive ingredients.
Turmeric, for example, contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help in reducing stomach-related issues in general.
But if you don’t enjoy turmeric then it’s also okay to use other ingredients like fennel seeds.
Please note that fennel seeds, although great for digestion, can also cause digestive issues and even diarrhea, especially if you use a lot.
Just to be on the safe side, we recommend only using ingredients that you respond well to!
Tips for Managing Gas-Related Issues After Eating Cabbage
Here are a few important and helpful tips that can help you manage your symptoms after eating cabbage:
- Chew your food! This is a very basic but often under-used tip. People who eat quickly are likely to swallow air more than people who take their time eating food. Chewing properly can also significantly aid in digestion!
- Try to eat your meals early. If you usually eat dinner late at night and then sleep within 2-3 hours of eating then you are likely to suffer from gas build-up. Generally, it’s best to eat 4-5 hours before sleeping which gives your stomach enough time to digest the cabbage.
- Try to remain active after eating cabbage. Walking 1-2 hours after eating is a good way to stimulate the digestive system. Remember, laying down, or even doing strenuous exercise can cause a build-up of gas.
Always give your stomach a 1–2-hour headstart before you begin any activity. This not only reduces gas-related symptoms but can also promote gut health.
- For highly susceptible individuals, it would be better if you eat cabbage during lunchtime rather than dinner. Since most people work throughout the day, you are more likely to digest cabbage before nighttime.
- If you are eating leftover cabbage, then we recommend that you thoroughly check the vegetable for signs of spoilage. Superficial features like mold, discoloration, foul odor, or a change in texture all point toward spoilage.
Avoid eating bad cabbage as it can exacerbate stomach issues and can even make you sick. Store leftover cabbage in a clean airtight container at the back of the fridge at 40F.
The cabbage should remain fresh for 2-3 days. You can also freeze cabbage but keep in mind that blanched cabbage freezes the best compared to other cooking methods.
- While cabbage rarely causes prolonged effects, if you feel gas-related symptoms after 12 hours then we recommend that you talk to your health provider to rule out other stomach-related issues.
Cabbage can cause a build-up of gas in some individuals but there are several ways that you can reduce its effects.
Now that you know how to reduce the gas-causing compounds in cabbage, here are some related questions:
Should you leave out cabbage or gas-causing vegetables from your diet?
Ideally, it is not recommended that you leave out vegetables from your diet because although they can cause gas-related issues, they are generally very healthy for you.
Eating vegetables and fruits is extremely important and omitting these foods may not be worth it.
It’s rather better to try different ways to reduce gas or to manage it than leaving an entire food group entirely!
Can cabbage cause tummy aches?
Tummy aches can be caused by a build-up of gas but we do not recommend that you self-diagnose your symptoms.
If you have a prolonged reaction after eating cabbage, then it is best to consult with your GP just to be on the safe side.
Please note that eating raw cabbage can cause stomach-related issues and individuals with a sensitive gut will likely suffer from negative effects if they consume raw or improperly cooked cabbage in any recipe.