Cauliflower is a member of the family of cruciferous vegetables. In fact, the veggie is a major food trend of 2018. According to a popular meme, once you turn 30, everything you know and love turns to cauliflower! Funny as that may sound, cauliflower is replete with important nutrients that can benefit you.
The vegetable originated from the wild-type cabbage, and today, it is used extensively in nearly every cuisine in the world – including Chinese, Indian, Italian, Turkish, French, Spanish, and even American. The reason? Not just its delectable taste – but its wonderful benefits. Keep reading to know more about the benefits of cauliflower.
Table Of Contents
- How Is Cauliflower Good For You?
- What Are The Benefits Of Cauliflower?
- What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Cauliflower?
- Cauliflower Recipes You Must Try
- Cauliflower Vs. Broccoli – Which Is Better?
- What Are The Side Effects Of Cauliflower?
How Is Cauliflower Good For You?
One of the most important compounds in cauliflower is sulforaphane, which is known to combat cancer and boost heart health in various ways. And the anti-inflammatory compounds in the veggie keep inflammation in check and prevent related diseases.
Cauliflower is rich in various other vitamins and minerals, which help boost brain health and even offer digestive benefits. Well, there’s more. Keep reading.
What Are The Benefits Of Cauliflower?
1. Fights Cancer
It’s the sulforaphane that does this. The compound kills cancer stem cells, and this slows down tumor growth. This compound in cauliflower was also found to help prevent prostate cancer (1). Cauliflower also contains indoles and isothiocyanates, which can inhibit cancers of the breast, bladder, colon, liver, and lung.
Cruciferous veggies like cauliflowers are also rich in carotenoids and other important nutrients like vitamins C, E, and K. All of these can help fight various forms of cancer (3).
2. Enhances Heart Health
Cauliflower is rich in fiber, and studies show how a diet rich in fiber can boost heart health (2). The sulforaphane in cauliflower is also known to improve blood pressure levels significantly. The veggie also contains omega-3 fatty acids that regulate cholesterol levels and prevent cardiac disease.
3. Boosts Brain Function
One important nutrient cauliflower is replete with is choline. Choline is a B vitamin that has a role in brain health and development. In fact, intake of choline during pregnancy had super-charged the brains of animals, and this throws light on its ability to boost cognitive function. The choline in the veggie can also prevent age-related memory decline (4). It can even help deal with other nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Another essential nutrient in cauliflower is vitamin K, which is known to improve psychomotor behavior.
4. Cauliflower Combats Inflammation
One of the most prominent benefits of cauliflower. Some of the most potent antioxidants in cauliflower are beta-carotene, quercetin, cinnamic acid, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These help reduce oxidative stress in the body and fight inflammation (5).
An important anti-inflammatory compound in cauliflower is indole-3-carbinol, which operates at the genetic level to fight inflammation. And the omega-3 fatty acids in the vegetable also work well to combat inflammatory conditions.
Talking about gout, cauliflower might help, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. But on the flip side, it is also moderately rich in purines – and purines might contribute to gout in the first place. Hence, please check with your doctor.
5. Can Aid Weight Loss
The sulforaphane in cauliflower, along with vitamin C and folate, can aid weight loss. In fact, studies show that vitamin C plays a major role in determining the amount of fat burnt during physical activity (6). Cauliflower is also low in carbs and can hence be a safe addition to a weight loss diet.
Also, the fiber in the veggie beats bloat and promotes weight loss by promoting satiety. We also have the omega-3s, which stimulate the secretion of leptin (7). Leptin is a hormone that increases metabolism and helps regulate body weight.
6. Cauliflower Helps Detoxify
Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants that support Phase 1 detoxification (which involves the reduction or hydrolysis of a compound, reducing the toxin into smaller fragments), and its sulfur-containing compounds help carry out Phase 2 detoxification (8). And the glucosinolates in the veggie also activate other detoxification enzymes.
7. Strengthens Bones
A low intake of vitamin K is often linked to an elevated risk of osteoporosis and fractures. But since cauliflower is rich in vitamin K, it can modify the bone matrix proteins and improve calcium absorption – and this boosts overall bone health (9). Vitamin K also prevents the excretion of calcium through urine.
8. Improves Digestive Health
The dietary fiber in cauliflower takes good care of your digestive health. Intake of adequate fiber can lower the risk of digestive issues like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis. The fiber even prevents colon cancer. And the sulforaphane in the veggie helps protect the inner lining of the stomach. It prevents the bacterial overgrowth in your stomach wall.
The sulfur-containing compounds in cauliflowers also support proper nutrient absorption and waste removal – and this benefits digestive health too (10).
The water in cauliflower can also help prevent constipation and smoothen the digestive process.
9. Improves Kidney Health
The phytochemicals in cauliflower help break down toxic substances and can hence help treat kidney disease. The veggie is low in potassium and high in vitamin C – which, in addition to protecting the kidneys, also help in weight loss (as weight gain can also stress the kidneys and cause harm). Cauliflower might also benefit bladder health.
However, some sources ask to avoid cauliflower in the case of kidney stones or other forms of kidney disease. Hence, it is best you consult your doctor.
10. Cauliflower Enhances Vision
The antioxidants in cauliflower, vitamin C included, can cut the risk of age-related macular degeneration. And the sulforaphane in the veggie protects the retina from damage and oxidative stress (11). It might also prevent cataracts.
11. Balances Hormones
Taking antioxidant-rich veggies like cauliflower has shown to reduce unhealthy levels of estrogen and balance hormones (12).
12. Increases Blood Flow
This can be attributed to the fiber in cauliflower. A high intake of fiber improves blood flow and enhances circulation. Fiber also boosts the health of the gut microbiome. This improves overall health as well as blood flow.
13. Improves Skin Texture And Hair Health
While the vitamin C in cauliflower improves collagen production and delays the signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines, the other antioxidants in the vegetable clear dark spots and enhance skin texture.
Vitamin C can also boost hair health – and the antioxidants, in general, strengthen the hair follicles and make your hair healthier.
That’s about the benefits of cauliflower. We saw some of the important nutrients in the veggie. But there are more that make cauliflower what it really is.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Cauliflower?
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.28 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.0 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.667 mg||13%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||48.2 mg||80%|
|Vitamin E||0.08 mg||0.5%|
|Vitamin K||15.5 µg||13%|
As it is a nutritional powerhouse, we are sure you’d want to include cauliflower in your diet. Here are a couple of delicious cauliflower recipes to help you get started.
Cauliflower Recipes You Must Try
1. Creamy Keto Cauliflower Risotto
What You Need
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of ghee
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 grated cauliflower head
- 1 cup of fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- On a skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they become tender (for about 3 minutes). Stir in the grated mushroom and cook for 3 more minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes more, until the mushrooms become tender.
- Stir in the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until you get a creamy texture.
2. Cauliflower English Muffins
What You Need
- 5 cups of cauliflower florets
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. You can then line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the cauliflower in a food processor and process until it is finely grated. Transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes and then allow to cool a bit. Transfer the cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel and wring the excess moisture out.
- Stir in the cheddar, egg, and salt – until they are thoroughly combined. Place a small biscuit cutter on the prepared baking sheet. Fill this cutter with 1/4 cup of the batter. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have 8 muffins. Ensure there is a 1-inch gap between each.
- Bake until they are browned and crispy around the edges (for about 25 minutes).
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
And now, we have an important question.
Cauliflower Vs. Broccoli – Which Is Better?
Both are cousins. But which of the two is better? Or do you have to eat both?
Well, broccoli enjoys the upper hand. It offers more vitamin C and vitamin K per serving than its cousin. And while cauliflower has no vitamin A, broccoli is rich in this nutrient as well – vitamin A is great for vision health.
Talking about similarities, both are low in calories and offer similar amounts of folate. The two are rich in fiber too.
So, if you have to choose, we recommend you go with broccoli. But no harm in adding the two to your diet. And of course, a variety of vegetables is what we must look for. That’s how one can get the optimum number of nutrients.
Hold on – there is something else about cauliflower that you must know.
What Are The Side Effects Of Cauliflower?
- Issues With Iodine Absorption
Cruciferous veggies like cauliflower contain cyanogenic glucosides, which are sugar-like molecules that can block iodine absorption. Excessive intake of cauliflower (and other cruciferous vegetables) can lead to hypothyroidism, wherein the thyroid hormone doesn’t produce enough of the hormone, leading to issues with metabolism.
- Gastrointestinal Issues
Excessive intake of cauliflower can lead to gas. This is because it contains complex carbs that don’t break down easily. Intestinal bacteria digest these complex carbs in the intestine and release carbon and hydrogen dioxide gas.
- Blood Clots
The vitamin K in cauliflower can make your blood clot. This might be a problem if you are already taking blood-thinning medication like coumadin.
- Issues With Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
There is not enough information on the intake of cauliflower during pregnancy or breastfeeding. In terms of pregnancy, do consult your doctor if you can take cauliflower. But do avoid the veggie during breastfeeding – it may cause gas in your baby.
No doubt, cauliflower is delectable. And it sure is nutritious. So, make it a part of your daily diet. A combination of taste and health is always welcome, isn’t it?
And tell us how this post has helped you. Simply leave a comment below.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Is cauliflower good for diabetics?
Though there is no research that states if cauliflower is particularly helpful for diabetics, it can be a helpful veggie as it is low in carbs.
Can you eat cauliflower leaves?
Yes. You can roast the leaves instead of throwing them away. You can also mix the leaves in cauliflower rice (mix cauliflower chunks in a food processor and then mix with cooked rice).
How many calories does a cauliflower head have?
One medium-sized cauliflower head contains about 146 calories.
How long does a cauliflower last?
The vegetable can last up to two weeks in the fridge. If frozen, it can last up to eight months.
How to include cauliflower in diet?
You can have it as a simply cooked vegetable. Making it a part of a salad also works. You may also try the recipes shared in this post.
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- “Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention”. National Cancer Institute.
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