A new study conducted in France found that cabbage prepared in certain ways may help people build up resistance against COVID-19. Researchers found that raw or fermented cabbage provided a surplus of antioxidants, which aid in immunity. The study even suggested that the the correlation may be visible in lower coronavirus numbers in countries where cabbage was already a dietary staple.
The study was conducted in France, and its results were published by the Clinical and Translational Allergy Journal on Monday. Its results were reported around the world, including in the South China Morning Post. It was enough to suggest that fermented cabbage dishes like sauerkraut or kimchi, as well as raw cabbage dishes like coleslaw, could help people build up their immune systems in a way that would specifically help fight COVID-19. Researchers were particularly interested in studying differences in how the pandemic spread in countries that were already eating plenty of cabbage.
"Little attention has been given to the spread and severity of the virus, and regional differences in diet, but diet changes may be of great benefit," said Dr. Jean Bousquet of Montpellier University in France. "Nutrition may play a role in the immune defense against COVID-19 and may explain some of the differences seen in COVID-19 across Europe. I have now changed my diet, and it includes raw cabbage three times a week, sauerkraut once a week and pickled vegetables."
Bousquet and his team suggest that cabbage may have helped protect Germany, South Korea and other countries to some extent, citing lower fatality rates there than in other places where cabbage is less common. Bousquet felt that other scientists might have underestimated the impact of these kinds of factors in this global crisis. "Understanding these differences, and protective factors, like diet, but many others too, is of paramount importance, and may eventually help to control these epidemics," he said.
According to the study, countries where raw or fermented cabbage is popular and coronavirus mortality rates were lower include Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, the Baltic states and Finland. A report by The Sun also noted that Bulgaria, Greece and Romania had relatively lower death rates as well, while Belgium, France, Italy Spain and the U.K. — where cabbage is less common — did not.
The study has not been peer-reviewed, yet the results were enough for Bousquet to proclaim a powerful conclusion outright. "Fermented foods have potent antioxidant activity and can protect against severe COVID-19," he said.