What is Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is an annual plant that reproduces by seed, one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. Typically, only the head is eaten. The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem.
Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds. There are different colours of cauliflower white, purple, orange, and yellow cauliflower. Although all these cultivars have some nutritional characteristics in common, they also show some interesting differences when it comes to cauliflower’s health benefits. Purple cauliflower, for example, gets its rich purple colour from anthocyanins, flavonoid pigments that also give red cabbage, purple carrots, and many berries their purplish hues – and their extraordinary health benefits. Yellow and orange cauliflower varieties, on the other hand, get their bright colours from carotenoids, vital nutrients that help keep your skin, mucous membranes, and eyes healthy.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Prevent Cancer: Cauliflower contains antioxidants that help prevent cellular mutations and reduce oxidative stress from free radicals. One of these is indole-3-carbinol or I3C, commonly found in cauliflower/ I3C has been shown to reduce the risk of breast and reproductive cancers in men and women.
Digestion: Cauliflower is high in both fiber and water content, which helps to prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer. Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion toxins through the bile and stool, but good digestion is far from all that fiber can do for your body.
Memory: Choline is a very important and versatile “vitamin-like factor” in cauliflower that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Strong bones: Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis. Adequate vitamin K consumption improves bone health by acting as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.
Due to its high vitamin K content, cauliflower helps to reduce inflammation. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, the same healthy fats found in salmon and flax seeds, but with the added bonus of practically no calories.
Uses of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is available fresh or frozen. The fresh cauliflower should have a firm head with no dark spots, and bright green leaves attached to the stem. Cauliflower can be stored up to 5 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Ways to use cauliflower includes:
- Used to flavour soup and stew
- Cauliflower crust pizza
- Buffalo cauliflower “wings”
- Cauliflower “rice”
- steamed or roasted as a side dish
- baked in a cheese sauce, as cauliflower cheese
- fried until golden brown, then added to rice dishes
- as the main ingredient in a curry
Nutritional Value of Cauliflower
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped raw cauliflower, cut into half-inch pieces, and weighing around 107 grams, contains:
- 27 calories
- 320 mg of potassium
- 51.6 mg of vitamin C
- 16.6 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K
- 2 grams (g) of protein
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 5 g of carbohydrate, including 2.1 g of fiber and 2 g of sugar
- 24 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 16 mg of magnesium
- 47 mg of phosphorus
- 0.197 mcg of vitamin B6
- 61 mcg of folate
One cup of raw cauliflower will provide:
- 77 percent of daily vitamin C needs
- 20 percent of daily vitamin K needs
- 10 percent or more of daily needs for vitamin B 6 and folate
It also contains smaller amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.