Asian Coleslaw

asian-coleslawCabbage is chock-full of nutrients including vitamin C and indoles, important cancer-fighting compounds. In addition, red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, the purple pigment with strong antioxidant activity commonly found in blueberries. In the winter months, cabbage is an abundant nutritional resource when other fresh produce is either expensive or unavailable. This recipe calls for a lot of salt, but it is used in this dish to soften the cabbage. Then it is thoroughly rinsed off so the recipe doesn’t provide too much sodium. This coleslaw is colorful and makes a delightful accompaniment to any meat, fish or vegetarian main dish. The garnish of minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds brings out the flavor of the slaw and adds additional crunch.

Food as Medicine

When cabbage is sliced or chopped, anti-carcinogenic compounds called glucosinolates are formed, but cooking breaks down the enzyme that creates these compounds, stopping their production. So to maximize its healthful properties, cabbage should be eaten raw (as in this recipe) or cooked for less than five minutes. Cabbage is also heart-healthy: raw or cooked, cabbage reduces cholesterol levels, though steaming produces the greatest cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Serves 8

Nutrients Per Serving

Calories: 126.8

Protein: 3.6 grams

Fat: 3.7 grams

Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams

Monounsat Fat: 1.3 grams

Polyunsat Fat: 1.6 grams

Carbohydrate: 23.7 grams

Fiber: 5.7 grams

Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

Vitamin A: 8,186.9 IU

Vitamin E: 0.5 mg/IU

Vitamin C: 98.1 mg

Calcium: 134.4 mg

Magnesium: 47.6 mg


1 medium head green cabbage

1 medium head red cabbage

3 tablespoons sea salt

3 large carrots

1/4 cup minced scallions

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons dark-roasted sesame oil


1. Discard the outer leaves of cabbages. Cut heads in quarters; remove and discard cores. Slice cabbage thinly or shred in a food processor. Layer the cabbage in a large bowl with the sea salt. Toss to distribute salt evenly and let cabbage sit for 1 hour to soften.

2. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and grate them into thin shreds.

3. Drain off any liquid produced by the cabbage and rinse the cabbage well in several changes of cold water to remove excess salt. Taste the cabbage; if it is still too salty, rinse it again.

4. Add carrots to the cabbage and mix well.

5. Whisk the rice vinegar, brown sugar and sesame oil together in a small bowl.

6. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Let chill. Garnish with minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Courtesy of Dr. Weil.

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  1. This sounds heavenly and healthy, too. My mother’s people were from an area of Ukraine where cabbage was a dietary staple. She used to make a heavenly sweet/sour cabbage dish. Thank you for this recipe.

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