What Is Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is a vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
It derives its name from the Latin word ‘caulis‘ which means cabbage with a flower.
The florets on the head of the cauliflower, also known as curd. Are tightly clustered and consist of immature flower buds attached to a central stalk.
To protect the flavor and softness of the cauliflower heads. They are kept away from sunlight to prevent the development of chlorophyll pigment and over-maturity.
It is considered to be native to ancient Asia but it re-emerged in the Mediterranean region, Turkey, and Italy in 600 BC.
Around the mid-16th century, this vegetable achieved recognition in France and Northern Europe.
Today, India, China, Italy, France, and the United States are among the top producers of cauliflower throughout the world.
Unique Nutrition Profile of Cauliflower
Cauliflower in particular is believed to be so beneficial due to its special combination of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid- all forms of antioxidants currently being extensively researched in order to understand more about how they keep the body healthy.
Due to recent search, Brassica crops like cauliflower are now highly correlated with preventing chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and various forms of cancers, just to name a few.
A one-cup serving of cauliflower contains:
- 29 calories
- Close to zero grams of fat, sodium, or sugar
- 73% daily value (DV) of Vitamin C
- 19% DV of Vitamin K
- 15% DV of folate14%
- 13% DV of pantothenic acid
- 12% DV of Vitamin B6
- 11% DV of choline
- 11% DV of fiber
- 9% DV of Omega-3 fatty acids
Health Benefits Of Cauliflower
Detoxifies the Body
The inclusion of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower is extremely important for the body’s detox system.
It contains indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient that, along with sulforaphane, helps in activating and regulating the function of detoxifying enzymes.
Additionally, a substance called glucoraphin present in cauliflower appears to have a protective effect on your stomach lining.
With glucoraphin, your stomach is not prone to the bacterium helicobacter pylori, thereby reducing your risk for stomach ulcer and cancer.
Support a Healthy Pregnancy
When with child, folate can help ensure that the developing fetus grows normally.
Cauliflower is an excellent natural carrier of B vitamins, including folate, which health professionals suggest women supplement with when pregnant.
Studies have shown that sulforaphane present in cauliflower is effective in protecting the skin against the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.
The protective action of sulforaphane defends the body against inflammations, skin cancer, UV-induced erythema, and cellular damage.
Lessen Cancer Risk
Research has established that cauliflower is effective for preventing breast, liver, colon, stomach and lung cancers.
The vegetable has been shown to possess chemo-preventive properties that thwart early stages of cancer growth, helping eliminate tumor development.
Furthermore, cauliflowers are packed with glucosinolates, a useful sulfur-containing element. These protective compounds aid in preventing cancer cells from growing.
Glucosinolates are utilized for DNA repair and help prevent the disease by retarding the mutation of cancer cells.
Support Healthy Weight Loss
Being low calorie at a mere 29 per cup, zero fat and extremely low in sugar and carbohydrates, cauliflower is great choice to add to a weight lose diet.
Since it is high in fiber, this vegetable also fights constipation issues.
Boosts Brain Health
Since cauliflower is a great way to get choline, a B vitamin that is essential for brain development, it is an excellent vegetable to eat for brain health.
Choline is a vital nutrient that when combined with phosphorus helps to mend cell membranes.
It thus results in better sleep, cognitive performance, improved muscle coordination, and sharper memory.
Potentially, regular cauliflower consumption can help decrease the risk of inflammation-mediated diseases such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.
A cup of boiled cauliflower contains about 11 micrograms of vitamin K and 0.21 g omega-3 fatty acids.
Because of the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K in cauliflower, it helps to prevent chronic inflammation that leads to conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and certain bowel conditions.
In addition, one of the glucosinolates found in cauliflower–glucobrassicin–can be readily converted into an isothiocyanate molecule called ITC, or indole-3-carbinol.
I3C is an anti-inflammatory compound that can actually operate at the genetic level, and by doing so, prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
How to prepare cauliflower
Another great benefit of cauliflower is its versatility – there are many ways to prepare this vegetable and some fantastic cauliflower recipes.
So you can easily incorporate it into your diet several times a week.
Start by removing the outer green leaves and trimming any brown sections.
Most people only eat the cauliflower florets, but the stems and stalk are also edible and are great for adding to soup stock or stews for extra flavour and nutrients.
Cauliflower is delicious when lightly steamed or sautéed until just tender – be careful not to overcook it or you’ll lose some of the nutritional value and end up with a less appealing flavour and texture.
You can also roast cauliflower in the oven or even carefully grill it.
Crumble cauliflower florets to make a low-calorie couscous replacement, or add them to pasta sauce or rice dishes for extra texture.
Risks of eating cauliflower
The risks for eating cauliflower are generally minimal. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower can make you gassy or bloated.
According to the University of Arizona, cabbage and cauliflower interfere with the body’s absorption of iodine, which is needed by the thyroid gland.
People with thyroid problems should avoid eating large amounts of either vegetable.
Cauliflower contains naturally occurring substances called purines. Purines can be broken down to form uric acid, and excess accumulation of uric acid can cause gout and kidney stones, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.
According to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, people taking blood-thinning medications should watch their cauliflower intake, since the vegetable’s vitamin K content may interfere with the medication’s effectiveness.
Of course, cauliflower is also delicious raw, whether chopped in a salad or served on its own with dip.
Think hummus with cauliflower slices – this makes a balanced, filling snack that won’t impact your diet.
To make it more visually appealing, try cauliflower in colours other than the standard white – it now comes in shades of orange, purple and pale green, as well.