Is Coleslaw Healthy, Actually? What Science Says


Is Coleslaw Healthy, Actually? What Science Says

Coleslaw is made from cabbage, carrots, and various herbs, and served with tortillas and guacamole on a wooden background.
Coleslaw is made from cabbage, carrots, and various herbs and can be served with tortillas and guacamole.

©Danilova Janna/Shutterstock.com

Some people are not a fan of coleslaw; that’s probably because they don’t like cabbage. Whenever I think of coleslaw, KFC coleslaw comes to mind first. It's dressed in a creamy mayonnaise with KFC’s secret spice ingredient, giving it that delicious, tangy flavor. There are so many recipes on the internet to try and create the original KFC secret spice for fried chicken, as well as their famous coleslaw. However, some have questions about whether coleslaw in general is healthy. The answer is yes; coleslaw is healthy. In this article, we will discuss the nutrients, ingredients, dressings, and spices used, as well as alternative ingredients, to make a healthy coleslaw that your whole family can enjoy.

What Is Coleslaw and Where Did It Originate?

Cabbage has been around for centuries. This dainty common side dish is primarily made using grated onions, red or green cabbage, and carrots. It is then dressed in mayonnaise or a vinegarette dressing with a few extra herb, spices, and sugar.

It originated during the 18th century in the Netherlands. The Dutch term is known as “koolsla,” and in Afrikaans, “koolslaai,” which means cabbage salad. This salad has turned into a popular side dish around the world and can be easily customized to suit your taste buds. Variations include peas, bacon bits, grated cheese, apples, peppers, pineapple, pears, and cream.

Additionally, a Dutch cookbook called The Sensible Cook contains a recipe credited to the author’s Dutch landlady in 1770. She originally mixed butter, oil, vinegar, and stips of cabbage together to create a new-flavored dish to present to the family. It was only in the mid-18th century that mayonnaise was created and further added to the coleslaw dish.

Is Coleslaw Healthy?

The answer is yes! The main ingredient is cabbage with grated carrots and other shredded vegetables. It is full of fiber and vitamins that benefit your body. The dressing however is the main problem. Traditionally, the dressing is made with high-fat ingredients like creamy mayonnaise and sugar. However, on the other hand, you can make a healthy coleslaw and substitute the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt.

Composition with cut cabbage on wooden table


Benefits of Coleslaw and Cabbage

As I have said, the main ingredient in coleslaw is cabbage, and eating cabbage has many health benefits. It has impressive nutrients and minerals and is low in calories. Let's dive into the benefits of consuming cabbage in your diet.

First, cabbage is part of the Brassica genus family of vegetables and looks a bit like lettuce. This family includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and radishes. Furthermore, cabbage can be a versatile ingredient to add to salads as well. Cabbage can be smooth or crinkly and comes in different colors such as green, red, white, and purple.

Nutritional Benefits of Cabbage

Cabbage: 1 cup contains

  • Magnesium – 3%
  • Folate – 10%
  • Calcium – 3%
  • Vitamin C – 36%
  • Potassium – 3%
  • Manganese – 6%
  • Vitamin K -56%
  • Vitamin B6 – 6%
  • Calories – 22
  • Fiber – 2g
  • Protein – 1g

Cabbage May Help With Inflammation

It is filled with antioxidants that can reduce chronic inflammation. Furthermore, a study which was conducted in 2014 found that consuming cruciferous veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, kale, and Brussels sprouts may lower blood levels of inflammation. Vitamin C is known to build collagen in the body. Collagen gives the skin elasticity and is important for muscles, bones, and blood vessels. Additionally, red cabbage contains more vitamin C than green cabbage.

Vitamin C is essential for the body. One small orange contains the same amount of vitamin C has one cup of red cabbage, which is 56%. Vitamin C may lower blood pressure and help boost our immune system. It is a powerful antioxidant and may reduce the risk of chronic disease and certain cancers.

Improves Digestion

This crunchy vegetable is high in insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber benefits the digestive system by supporting healthy bowel movements. Furthermore, soluble fiber increases the positive bacteria in the stomach.


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Healthy Coleslaw

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  • Author: Kay Keene
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


This healthy coleslaw is a great crowd-pleaser for potlucks and is made with Greek yogurt. Store leftovers in the fridge for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container.


Units Scale
  • 1 bag cabbage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 finely chopped green onions
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Put the onions, peppers, cabbage, and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. In a jug, mix the salt, pepper, hot sauce, Greek yogurt, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup together until smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the veggies.
  4. Finally, toss and coat evenly. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to blend.







IRON: 1mg

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes


  • Calories: 76
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Trans Fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 2mg


Finally, coleslaw is a versatile tasty side dish and can be served with various meals. Use it as a topping on sandwiches or hamburgers. Coleslaw pairs well with chicken, fish, pulled pork, and brisket. Try making Amish coleslaw, creamy coleslaw, or KFC coleslaw and serve it with your next dinner meal.

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