Cauliflower (cabbage flower) is considered to be broccoli’s paler cousin and maligned to be tasteless and bland.
Contrary to the belief, cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable and its beautiful flower heads are an excellent source of essential nutrients and vitamins.
Despite its off-white color, cauliflower holds many health benefiting phytochemicals and antioxidants. This vegetable also provides a good concentration of indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.
Indole-3-carbinol, a phytochemical and sulforaphane are potent antioxidants which are known to have anti-cancer compounds. These chemicals provide protection against prostate, ovarian, and cervical cancers and also help prevent obesity and diabetes.
These compounds stimulate cancer-blocking enzymes and protect the body cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.
Cauliflower Ranks Among Top 20 Foods On ANDI Score
Cauliflower ranks at No. 13 just a tad below broccoli in ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) rankings.
ANDI index was created by Dr. Fuhrman and illustrates which foods have the highest nutrient-per-calorie density. This index is a quick way to check which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense.
Unlike most food labels which list just a few nutrients, ANDI scores are based on 34 important nutritional parameters including The ORAC score X 2. Some of them are:
|Calcium||Carotenoids – Beta & Alpha-Carotene||Lutein||Zeaxanthin|
|Vitamins Bs||Vitamin-C & E||Zinc||The ORAC score X 2.|
The ANDI scores are based on calories and not on the volume or weight of food. Hence a lower-calorie food with more nutrients scores higher than a calorie-dense food, which is why iceberg lettuce scores high. – Dr Furham
Scroll down to learn more about ANDI
Cauliflower – Some Amazing Nutrition Facts
Cauliflower is great nutrition inclusion to a healthy diet. Besides from delicious savory flavor, it is power packed with some special phytochemicals called carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid.
Regular consumption helps to combat various diseases, aiding and maintaining a clean system and promote stronger immunity.
A quick glance into cauliflower’s major nutrients and daily percent values which would give you a fair idea of this vegetable’s powerful nutritional punch.
|Nutrient||Value||RDA %||Nutrient||Value||RDA %|
|Dietary Fiber||2.5 g||10%||Iron||0.4 mg||2%|
|Fat – total||0.1 g||–||Magnesium||15.0 mg||4%|
|Sugars||2.4 g||–||Mangnese||0.2 mg||8%|
|Omega-3 Fatty acids||37 mg||–||Phosphorus||44.0 mg||4%|
|Omega-6 Fatty acids||11.0 mg||–||Potassium||303 mg||9%|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||–||Selenium||0.6 mcg||1%|
|Nutrient||Value||RDA %||Nutrient||Value||RDA %|
|Vitamin A||13.0 IU||0%||Vitamin C||46.4 mg||77%|
|Vitamin B12||–||–||Thiamine||0.1 mg||4%|
|Vitamin E||0.1 mg||0%||Riboflavin||0.1 mg||4%|
|Vitamin K||16.0 mcg||20%||Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||11%|
|Choline||45.2 mg||–||Niacin||0.5 mcg||3%|
|Folate||57 mcg||14%||Pantothenic Acid||0.7 mg||11%|
Source: Nutrient data for this listing was provided by USDA SR-21 and published in nutritiondata.self.com
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older and based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world and fairly ranked among the top 20 healthiest food.
Many health benefits of cauliflower include relief from indigestion, diabetes, colitis, macular degeneration, obesity, and hypertension.
The antioxidant properties of cauliflower help to strengthen the immune system, reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
It also aids in maintaining brain health, strengthen bones, good cellular health, balance electrolytes, maintain optimum cholesterol levels and prevents many cardiovascular disorders.
Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable which belongs to the Brassicaceae family which also includes broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Cauliflower is often overshadowed by its green cousin broccoli but cannot be ignored for it is almost at par with broccoli when it comes to nutrition.
This is one vegetable which deserves a regular inclusion in a healthy diet because of its array of nutrients which include antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and impressive phytochemicals.
It is a superfood which offers numerous health benefits. Let us look at the top most impressive benefits of cauliflower.
1. Cauliflower, rich in Antioxidants, Phytochemicals, Vitamins & Minerals
Brassica vegetables like cauliflower are rich in vitamins C and considered 10th best source among hundred foods. It is also rich in vitamin K and manganese which are potent antioxidants that help keep the body healthy. These vitamins which are antioxidants can help prevent conditions such as heart disease, cancer, reduce oxidative stress etc.
Some other key antioxidants found in cauliflower are beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol which protect from cell damage caused by free radicals.
Win an antioxidant and phytonutrient lottery by including cauliflower to your diets.
Benefits of Phytochemicals in Cauliflower
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals which give plants its color, odor and flavor. They influence chemical processes in our body once we consume them in helpful ways.
According to American Institute of Cancer Research and findings from studies, phytochemicals have the potential to
- Stimulate immune system
- Block carcinogenic substances from what we eat, drink and breathe
- Reduce inflammation
- Prevent and repair DNA damage
- Reduce oxidative damage to cells causing cancer and growth rate of cancer cells
- Help regulate hormones
Some phytochemicals found in cauliflower include glucosinolates, dithiolthiones, indoles , glucoraphanin, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.
Cauliflower Is A Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin-C, vitamin-K, vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6) and thiamin (B1), and niacin (B3).
Just 100 gms of cauliflower provides 80% of daily recommended value of vitamin-C which helps fight free radicals, prevents infections, boosts immunity and help fight cancer.
It is also a rich source of vitamin K which helps keeps skeletal structure healthy, helps blood clotting and most importantly helps reduce inflammation in the body.
Since our bodies cannot produce Vitamin-B group in the bodies, these vitamins need to be consumed through the food we eat and required for fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
Cauliflower is also a very good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.
2. Cauliflower Helps Digestion And Detoxification
It has about 11 percent of recommended daily amount of high dietary fiber content that aids in digestion and promotes the elimination of toxins from the body.
It also helps in healthier stool bulk, keeps stool soft and easy to expel and regularity which aids in maintaining good colorectal health.
According to researchers, a low-fiber diet increases the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. A Harvard study of 47,888 men demonstrates the role of dietary fiber and the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.
Men who consumed the most fiber were 42% less likely to develop the diverticular disease than their peers who consumed the less fiber.
Phytochemicals in cauliflower such as glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, sulforaphane which are powerful and long-lasting antioxidants protect the stomach lining and help resist the growth of Heliobacter pylori bacteria which cause ulcers according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers published in Cancer Prevention Research
Glucosinolates break down product indole-3-carbinol which along with sulforaphane, helps in activating and regulating the function of detoxifying enzymes. It helps to trigger the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes that block free-radical damage.
Sulforaphane and Indole-3-carbinol phytonutrients found in brassica vegetables may be able to treat cancer.
According to researchers, there is a possible association between consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli and cancer risk especially breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach cancers.
A new study indicated that eating high cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower is significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk. Indole-3-Carbinal in cauliflower enhances the breakdown of estrogen, breast cancer promoter (metabolite 16alpha-hydroxyestrone), making it less potent form thereby reducing the risk of breast cancer.
According to The American Cancer Society estimates, more than two-thirds of cancer might be prevented through lifestyle modification alone. Nearly one-third of cancer can be attributed to diet alone.
A new study at Rutgers shows that vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have natural ingredients that may reduce the risk of developing hereditary cancers.
Cauliflower provides a rich supply of fiber which is good for digestion and also contains glucoraphanin which helps in protecting the stomach lining by reducing the risk of contracting colon cancer.
The high content of antioxidants in cauliflower helps reduce inflammation and increases blood flow in the body. The antioxidants also help fight free radicals and with increased blood flow, especially the prostate provides protection against prostate cancer.
Cauliflower has an impressive combination of phytochemicals-chemicals, plant sterols, antioxidants and vitamin C. These properties help in reducing the risk of developing many other types of cancers such as cervical, ovarian, bladder, liver and lung.
It has been proven that inflammation in the body is correlated with an increased risk of diseases such as heart, strokes, diabetes, and disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
According to lead researcher Dr. Paul Evans, The Imperial College London, “most heart diseases are caused by the build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries which are known as atherosclerosis. Treatment with the natural compound sulforaphane which is found naturally in vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli helps reduce inflammation and can be helpful in decreasing the risk of heart disease” as told to BBC.
These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cauliflower also help lower blood pressure and stimulate HDL cholesterol.
Since this vegetable is rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce bad cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries and keep blood vessels free from plaque build-up.
Cauliflower is also an excellent source of choline, a vitamin-B, which plays a role in brain development, supporting energy, brain function, keep the metabolism active.
Choline deficiency may lead to age-related cognitive decline, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Including vegetables rich in choline may protect you from such diseases.
Apart from choline, the presence of vitamin B6 and potassium in cauliflower also play an important role in maintaining brain health.
These nutrients promote proper communication in the nerves by producing a range of required neurotransmitters which include norepinephrine and dopamine.
Cauliflower is also a rich source of vitamin K which is known and proven to improve brain function.
5. Cauliflower Helps Balance Hormones Like Estrogen
The most common reason for the hormonal imbalance is unhealthy and poor diet like the western diet.
Processed foods such as meat, dairy, soy, yeast, refined products like white bread etc. can raise an unhealthy level of estrogen in the body. Such foods can be harmful to your health and destroy the hormonal balance.
High levels of estrogen in the bloodstream are linked to health issues such as hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, ovarian and breast cancer.
Diets rich in whole foods and vegetables such as cauliflower which are packed with antioxidant have shown to help reduce unhealthy levels of estrogen and partially balance hormones.
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says that diets which RE high in indole-3-carbinol, antioxidant rich in vegetables such as cauliflower, increase the urinary excretion of estrogen linked to breast cancer.
Research has shown that eating ¼ cup to 1 cup of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli can make profound health improvement including the rebalancing of estrogen levels.
6. Cauliflower Aids Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose weight, cauliflower is an excellent choice for it will fill you up without consuming too many calories, fat or carbs and yet, high in fiber volume.
This vegetable contains indoles which are known to have anti-obesity properties and one cup of cauliflower contains just 29 calories with a minuscule amount of fats and sugar.
A 2012 study indicates that cauliflower consumption helps prevent metabolic and inflammation disorders. It stimulates fat-burning thermogenesis and prevents obesity.
High fiber volume in cauliflower also helps stimulate a better bowel movement.
7. Cauliflower Promotes Bone Health
Cauliflower is a rich source of vitamin C which plays an important role in the production of collagen.
According to a study, collagen is a potential utility in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis as it can protect bones and joints from inflammatory damage.
Cauliflower also contains vitamin K which increases the effectiveness of osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone mineralization and also promotes healthy calcium balance.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K daily had 30% fewer chances to break a hip in comparison to women who consumed less than that.
Low intakes of vitamin K have been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis.
A Japanese study suggests that vitamin K stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and reduces urinary excretion of calcium.
How To Cook Cauliflower
You do not want to ruin all the goodness of cauliflower’s rich nutrients by cooking it in a wrong way.
Researchers have studied many methods to cook and how to preserve cauliflower’s health benefits. They found that microwaved and stir fried methods were the best ways to preserve the highest antioxidants.
Boiling and blanching impacted the most in reducing cauliflower’s nutrients. Just 5 minutes of boiling lost 20 to 30% nutrients, 40 to 50 after 10 minutes and 75% of nutrients were lost after 30 minutes of boiling.
However, the best way to retain most of the nutrients of cauliflower is to saute them.
Cauliflower – A Word of Caution
Cauliflower can sometimes cause bloating and release of gas which is due to the carbs which get broken down entirely in the digestive tract
Warfarin: If you take anticoagulant drugs like warfarin and coumadin, it is advisable that you discuss your dietary intake of foods rich in vitamin K such as cauliflower with your advisor. Since cauliflower is rich in vitamin K, it may interact with the prescribed anticoagulants.
Purines: People who have or at a risk of disorders such as gout or kidney stone should limit foods like cauliflower which are rich in purines which break down from uric acid and lead to build-up of uric acid.
Anaphylaxis: Cauliflower may cause severe allergic reaction swelling, itching, dyspnea, breathing difficulty etc.
Apart from so many health benefits, cauliflower also promotes hair growth, healthy skin, and development of hemoglobin. This is due to the presence of sulphur and silicon in this vegetable.
It is one of those versatile vegetables that brings a nice flavor along with low-calorie high nutrition to the diet.
The inclusion of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower in your diet would go a long way in providing multiple benefits for almost any lifestyle!
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