Cauliflower rice, cauliflower hummus, cauliflower pizza, cauliflower mash…the list goes on and on. This cruciferous vegetable is loaded with a bevy of nutrients that delivers various benefits, excellent for promoting your health and improving your general life.
Easy to incorporate into your diet and enjoyed raw, grated, roasted, steamed, pureed, or mashed, this vegetable is a star.
This vegetable originated from a varying kind of cabbage, the wild-type cabbage. And has found medicinal and most especially culinary fame, no wonder it is used in almost every cuisine in the world- Indian, Spanish, Asian, African, European, Japanese, Italian, Greece, Thailand, and French.
Let’s dive deeper into what makes this star vegetable very popular and widely appreciated by people.
What is cauliflower
The word cauliflower is derived from the Italian word “cavolfiore”, meaning “cabbage flower”. This cruciferous vegetable has a dense, off-white head with tightly packed flowers known as the curd.
Cauliflowers belong to the cruciferous vegetable family, the Brassica oleracea family, and include other vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, turnips, collard greens, bok choy, lettuce, and Brussel sprouts.
The cauliflower is an annual plant that reproduces only by seeds. Although the off-white variety of cauliflower is the most common, other varieties such as purple, orange, and green cauliflowers are available.
A reason for the cauliflowers’ rich flavor and its soft head is it is kept away from sunlight to prevent over-maturity and development of chlorophyll pigment.
Cauliflower has been in existence for a long time and originated in the Asian region as a wild-type cabbage that is no more thought to be eaten globally. The cauliflower gained popularity in the Mediterranean region around 600 BC as an edible crop, but today, it has also gained culinary fame in many of the worlds’ cuisines.
In the 16th century, the cauliflower found its way to the United States, and during this period, it was commonly harvested and even used in dishes. Today, people incorporate cauliflower into their diet for differing reasons.
This veggie is packed with a special mix of phytochemicals known as carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid.
These antioxidants keep the body healthy and prevent the risk of chronic illnesses such as neurodegenerative disorders, certain types of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many more.
What powerful nutrient is the cauliflower made of that makes it a star in the veggie market?
Nutritional facts of cauliflower
The cauliflower is a super nutritious veggie with an outstanding nutritional profile. It is loaded with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. And not just that, it is also high in vitamin C, riboflavin, and niacin.
It is rich in super-powerful antioxidants, and we owe this to the veggies’ carotenoid and vitamin C content that becomes converted into vitamin A. Antioxidants help to fight free radicals that destroy body cells and DNA. These free radicals make us susceptible to illnesses and the cauliflower does a pretty good job in getting rid of them.
A special and unique fact about the cauliflower and other members of its family is they are rich in glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing compound with really potent antioxidant properties. These compounds have been found to decrease inflammation, fight cancer, and support detoxification (by making harmful compounds like carcinogens less toxic).
According to the USDA, one cup of raw cauliflower or 128 grams, contains about:
3 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of protein
1 gram of fat
5 grams of fiber
4 milligrams(mg) vitamin C: 77% of the DV
16 micrograms(mcg) vitamin K: 20% of the DV
57 micrograms folate: 14% of the DV
2-milligram vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
303 milligrams potassium: 9% of the DV
2-milligram manganese: 8% of the DV
7 milligram pantothenic acid: 7% of the DV
1 milligram thiamine: 4% of the DV
1-milligram riboflavin: 4% of the DV
15 milligrams magnesium: 4% of the DV
44 milligrams phosphorous: 4% of the DV
Cauliflower is relatively low in calories, meaning you do not have to watch your calorie intake. You can consume two or more cups of cauliflower and maximize the health benefits of this veggie.
Is cauliflower a carb or protein? Cauliflower is considered a carbohydrate because it is a plant-derived food but it contains some protein as vegetables do. It is a popular low-carb vegetable and contains 5 grams of carbohydrate, with 3 grams as fiber. If you are on a low-carb diet or ketogenic diet, then cauliflower is ideal for you.
The top 6 health benefits of cauliflower.
Cauliflower definitely delivers mind-blowing benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer, improving detoxification and digestion, reducing inflammation, and even aiding weight loss.
After reading the benefits of cauliflower, one would be surprised as to why you have this stardom veggie stocked in your kitchen.
Reducing the Risk of Cancer
The cauliflower is loaded with a special and powerful sulfur compound that reduces the risk of cancer. This compound called sulforaphane inhibits cancer stem cells and decelerates the growth of tumors.
Sulforaphane has also been shown to prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, stomach, and even colon cancer. And as a result, this veggie is among the top cancer-fighting foods.
Cruciferous vegetables can inhibit the development of chemicals that occurs during carcinogenesis by stopping tumor cells from reproducing. The glucosinolates in cauliflowers can also lend a helping in preventing cancer.
Cooking, chewing, and digesting cauliflower breaks down glucosinolates into two anti-cancer compounds, indoles, and isothiocyanates.
Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol that has chemopreventive and anti-estrogen properties that help in inhibiting the growth of uterine cancer cells, according to studies.
Cauliflowers are exceptionally rich in vitamins C, E, and K. These nutrients can fight cancer. Asides, cauliflower, broccoli can also prevent cancer. Broccoli has more vitamin content than cauliflower but both of them are cruciferous vegetables. According to the National Cancer Institute, consuming vegetables from this family can prevent the risk of cancer.
May Aid Weight Loss and Management
The cauliflower is a weight-loss-friendly food because it contains properties that help control weight loss.
First of all, cauliflowers are low in calories. According to the USDA, a cup of cauliflower contains 25 calories, meaning you can eat lots of it without gaining the lightest weight. And it is a great substitute for high-calorie foods such as rice, mashed potatoes, cheese, avocados.
Also, cauliflowers are rich sources of fiber that can slow digestion and promotes feelings of fullness for a long period of time. So, think about cauliflowers when you want to replace your high calories or carb foods and also enrich yourself with lots of fiber.
Cauliflower is also a hydration booster. It contains 92% water content and that is really impressive. To successfully lose weight and maintain it, you need to regularly consume water and cauliflowers can supply you with just enough.
Inflammation is majorly linked to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Cauliflower is rich in potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to destroy free radicals and reduce oxidative stress that could increase the risk of cancer and other conditions.
The super antioxidants found in cauliflower include vitamins C, E, A, manganese, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, beta-cryptoxanthin, rutin, kaempferol, quercetin.
Also, this cruciferous veggie contains phytochemicals such as indoles and glucosinates. These phytochemicals stimulate powerful enzymes that also fights free radicals that could cause cell and DNA damage and also protects the body from oxidative stress.
What’s not to love about cauliflower?
Boosts Heart Health
Cauliflower contains heart-promoting compounds such as sulforaphane that prevent the risk of heart disease. Consuming cauliflower can help with optimum blood circulation and functioning of blood vessels.
Cauliflower’s ability to reduce inflammation can reduce the risk for heart disease.
Cauliflower also possesses anti-inflammatory properties found in abundance in nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These nutrients can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, control cholesterol levels and protect arteries and blood vessels from plaque buildup.
And if these conditions are not reduced and controlled, they can further lead to health issues that could majorly increase your risk for heart disease. These health issues include inflammation, cardiac arrest, allergies and also, autoimmune response.
Thanks to the special compounds in cauliflower- sulforaphane, gluconasturtiian, glucobrassicin, and glucoraphanin, body detoxification can take place. These compounds can help the body detox as a result of their role in liver function.
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflowers are excellent for supporting liver health, digestion, and detoxification because of their glucosinolates content, which plays a role in proper nutrient absorption and waste removal.
Glucosinolates stimulate the production of phase II enzymes, and by doing this they cause the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes that inhibit free radicals and block damages.
Cauliflower contains a good amount of dietary fiber that can improve digestive health. Consuming adequate fiber, whether soluble or insoluble, can reduce the risk of digestive problems like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, and diverticulitis.
Plus, the sulforaphane content in cauliflowers can facilitate smooth digestion of food by promoting a healthy gut. They prevent the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut microflora thus stopping bad bacteria from surviving in the digestive system and allowing good bacteria to survive and grow.
Cauliflower is also packed with amazing benefits such as:
Promoting vision health by reducing the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye disorder and also by protecting the retina from oxidative stress and damage.
Supporting hormonal balance
Cauliflower contains compounds such as indole-3-carbinol that balance hormones by regulating estrogen levels.
Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, and sulfur-containing compounds like glutathione. These nutrients and antioxidants respectively work to support gut health, protect the body against infections and protect the body cells from inflammation.
Boosting brain function: cauliflower is loaded with a B vitamin called choline. And choline helps to support brain health, function, and development. These nutrients can prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and age-related memory disorders. Also, sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies can reduce the progression of neurodegenerative disease.
Supports fetal health and development
Cauliflower contains 57mcg of folate which is about 14% of the recommended daily value. Consumption of folate is essential during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs).
Also, cauliflower is loaded with other nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin C, phosphorous, manganese, and dietary fiber that can keep you and your baby active and healthy.
Management of diabetes: Is cauliflower good for diabetics? Yes. Consuming cauliflower regularly can reduce the risk of diabetes as well as other factors influencing it. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, potassium, and other nutrients that can boost glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity.
How to select and store cauliflower
Now that you are well versed in the benefits of this wonderful cruciferous vegetable, you may be looking forward to adding it to your next grocery shopping list. How do you pick a good cauliflower? To buy fresh cauliflower, there are certain simple tips to follow.
Always buy caulis with clean, tightly bundled, and not splaying open, off-white florets with bright green leaves. It is best to avoid yellow cauliflowers with spotted florets and saggy leaves. This kind of cauliflower is not fresh, unhealthy for consumption, non-nutritional, and degraded already.
Check for dark-colored patches on the cauliflower as it may also imply the veggie has downy mildew, a disease.
It is ideal to use cauliflowers within two to five days after purchasing if it’s still available to ensure its nutrients are still intact. Cauliflowers can be stored in the refrigerator for as long as 5 days. While raw cauliflower can last in your refrigerator longer than cooked cauliflower, you can store the raw cauliflower in a plastic bag or dry container to retain its moisture.
The most nutritious choice for cauliflower is fresh or frozen. As a matter of fact, cauliflower is cheap and widely available in grocery stores.
How can I add cauliflower to my diet? cauliflower can be consumed raw or cooked. You can steam, sauté, or roast cauliflower.
In fact, cauliflowers can be consumed as a delightful side dish or combined with dishes like salads, casseroles, stir-fries, and even soups.
Cauliflower is a great substitute for many grains and legumes in different dishes, and it is definitely a great way to eat more nutritional veggies. Remember eating a variety of vegetables can boost your nutrient intake. There are many ways to add cauliflower to your diet, you just have to prepare an excellent dish that suits your taste.
Cauliflower is a super vegetable loaded with vital nutrients and as such, can deliver powerful and incredible health benefits.
This vegetable can aid weight loss, reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, heart failure, diabetes, and can support fetal development as well as detoxification.
The most interesting part is you do not even have to worry about your calorie intake plus, it is easy to add to your diet. It is tasty, nutritional, easy to prepare, available in a variety of colors, and is a great substitute for high-carb and high-calorie foods.