Food facts: Cabbage - Chestnuts

Facts and quirky pieces of information about the food we eat always interest me, both from an historical and a nutritional point of view.

Did you know that people who eat a fair amount of fish have lower chances of depression? Or that Australians on average eat 8 - 9 times more salt per day than is required by our bodies.

Up until just over 100 years ago Americans didn't eat tomatoes - they thought they were poisonous! I'm including lots of these food facts on each of the recipe pages on this web site. More are listed here on this page:



Cabbage is regarded as a "wonder" vegetable because it has so many good qualities. Raw and juiced cabbage has anti-viral and ant-bacterial properties. It is considered to speed up the metabolism of oestrogen in women and this may protect against cancer of the breast and womb. Studies have shown that men can reduce their likelihood of getting colon cancer by two-thirds if they eat cabbage more than once a week.

Capsicums (Peppers)

Capsicums are from the nightshade family. They originated in Central and South America. They come in an amazing array of colours from bright red, yellows, oranges, purples and greens. Capsicums can be eaten in their raw form or they can be cooked. They range from very mild spiciness to extremely hot! Most species of capsicums contain capsaicin which is the chemical that causes the hot burning sensation when they are eaten. They are good sources of vitamin C.


Caraway is a biennial plant native to Europe and Western Asia. The fruit, seeds and roots are used as food. It is an important flavouring in Eastern European countries, Austria and Germany giving a sweet anise type of flavour to food. It is used in baking - particularly in baking rye bread. It is also used in potato and cheese dishes and with cabbage. Medicinally it is used to aid digestion and is frequently given to colicky babies.


Cardamom is a spice used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. It is part of the ginger family and can be used in both sweet and savoury foods and drinks. The seeds can be used whole, lightly crushed or fully ground. On a weight basis cardamom is one of the most expensive herbs but only a little is needed to impart a fragrant taste. In traditional medicine it is used to treat throat infections, mouth and gum infections plus it is helpful for lung and digestive disorders.


Carrots are native to Afghanistan. They used to have a yellow flesh and a purple exterior. Carrots were first grown as a medicine and not a food. Just one carrot supplies enough vitamin A for an entire day. In fact, they have the highest Vitamin A content of any vegetable. Carrots have high levels of the anti-oxidant beta carotene which is reputed to help fight cancer and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.


Cashews are good source of potassium, B vitamins and folate. They contain magnesium, copper, selenium and phosphorous. They are also known as Filberts. Cashews are native to the Americas but they are now grown all over tropical Asia and Africa. India is the largest producer and processor of cashews.


Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous family so it is a cancer fighting vegetable. It is also a blood purifier and a laxative. It also contains a high amount of vitamin C, folate, fibre, and complex carbohydrates. The head of the cauliflower remains white because the large green leaves that surround it prevent it from being exposed to sunlight. Hence, chlorophyll doesn't develop so no colour forms.


Cayenne comes from the capsicum family - it is a red hot chilli pepper. It is used in recipes more for the heat it impairs than for its flavour. It was named after the city of Cayenne in French Guyana. It has stimulant, digestive and antiseptic qualities but if it is eaten in large quantities it can cause stomach problems. Because it is a spice that creates heat it can be used to warm feet by being placed inside socks. It can increase body temperature internally by being drunk as a tea.


Celeriac is a knobbly root vegetable that is related to celery. It can be eaten steamed, baked or mashed and is also eaten raw when it can be grated into salads. It is also used in soups and stews. It was originally grown in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Celeriac is a diuretic and contains Vitamin C, calcium and iron.


Celery was once grown primarily for medicinal reasons, particularly by the Chinese. It has been prominent in Northern European cuisine since the 16th century. It is said that it takes more calories to eat and digest celery than there is in the celery. It is related to carrots, parsley and parsnips. Celery is high in vitamin C and potassium.


Cheese is extremely popular due to its variety of tastes and textures. Some cheeses like Feta and mozzarella are mostly used in salads or on pizzas. Other cheeses, both hard and soft are perfect for cheese boards where their flavours can be truly appreciated. Cheeses contain valuable amounts of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals but some cheeses, particularly hard ones, are high in saturated fat. Cheeses fall into two categories - hard and unripened. Hard cheeses are generally matured for many months and their flavours develop over this time. Examples of hard cheeses are cheddar, Parmesan, goat's cheese, haloumi, Feta and mozzarella. Unripened cheeses are young and immature and they have a light, mild taste. Examples are ricotta, cottage, fromage frais, quark and cream cheese. Enjoy cheese but be aware of the fat content and the amount you consume.


Cherries cleanse and purify the system and are particularly helpful to the kidneys. They are rich in vitamin A, a good source of vitamin B, potassium, calcium, and manganese.


Chestnuts are sweet tasting nuts that need to be cooked before they can be eaten. Once cooked they can be peeled and eaten as is, pureed, ground or preserved. they are the only nut to contain vitamin C. The first plantings of European chestnut trees in Australia were back in the 1850's in the gold rush era.



Read other interesting food facts (in alphabetical order):

Allspice - Avocados
Allspice, almonds,amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, aubergines, avocados

Bananas - Buckwheat
Bananas, barley, basil, bay leaves, beans, beetroot, black berries, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat

Cabbage - Chestnuts
Cabbage, capsicum, caraway, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cayenne, celeriac, celery, cheese, cherries, chestnuts

Chicken - Cumin
Chicken, chickpeas, chicory, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumbers, cumin

Dates - Fish
Dates, dill, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fenugreek, figs, fish

Galangal - Green Beans
Galangal, garlic, ginger, globe artichokes, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, green beans

Hazelnuts - Limes
Hazel nuts, honey, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kafir lime leaves, kale, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemons, lentils, lettuce, limes

Macadamia Nuts - Mustard
Macadamia nuts, mace, mandarins, mangoes, maple syrup, marjoram, mar ow, melons, milk, millet, mint, miso, molasses, mushrooms, mustard

Nectarines - Oregano
Nectarines, nutmeg, oats, olive oil, onions, oranges, oregano

Papayas - Pumpkin
Papayas, paprika, parsley, parsnips, peaches, peanuts, pears, peas, pecans, pineapples, pine nuts, plums, potatoes, pumpkin

Quince - Rye
Quinces, quinoa, radishes, raspberries, rice, rosemary, rye

Sage - Sweet Corn
Sage, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, soy sauce, sprouted seeds, squash, strawberries, swede, sweet corn

Tamari - Zucchini
Tamari, tarragon, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, triticale, turkey, turmeric, turnips, vanilla, walnuts, wheat, zucchini