A Look at Irish Fare

Melanie Rovinsky

The mere mention of St. Patrick’s Day is enough to make the typical American’s mouth water. After all, who doesn’t love a big heaping plate of corned beef and cabbage washed down with a pint of Guiness or Smithwicks?

The Origins

The truth is, corned beef and cabbage, as we know it, did not technically originate in Ireland. In the early 1800s, when Irish immigrants were pouring into America, they could not readily find the type of cured pork that they normally ate back home. Because the Jewish style corned beef was similar in taste and texture to their Irish bacon, many immigrants began incorporating the meat into their native dishes.

The Nutrition

Although satisfying to our taste buds, corned beef and cabbage as it is commonly prepared in America is not very nutritious. A five-ounce serving of the cured beef and its accompanying juices often contains over 1,000 mg of sodium. In addition, 40 percent of the calories from corned beef come from fat… and not the good kind either! The beef is one of the few foods that naturally contains trans fats. However, a five-ounce serving of corned beef does contain beneficial iron and protein.

Cabbage, on the other hand, is very nutritious! One cup of cooked cabbage is just 35 calories and contains no fat or cholesterol! The same serving provides you with four grams of fiber, three grams of protein, and 41 percent of your daily intake of Vitamin C.

Added Bonus

The trusty Irish staple often served next to the corned beef is the largely misunderstood potato. Spuds have gotten a bad reputation since the advent of low-carb diets, but they actually contain many helpful vitamins and minerals. A large potato contains 48 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 18 percent of your daily iron, and 46 percent of your daily potassium. In addition, for 275 calories, one potato can provide you with 7 g of fiber and 7 g of protein.