Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is naturally high in fiber and B-vitamins.
It provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer. It also contains fiber to enhance weight loss and digestion, choline that is essential for learning and memory, and many other important nutrients.
An article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places cauliflower 24th on a list of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.”Fast facts on cauliflower:
Here are some key points about cauliflower. More detail is in the main article.
- Cauliflower is as good a source of fiber and vitamins.
- Its ingredients may help strengthen bones, boost the cardiovascular system, and prevent cancer.
- Tasty ways of eating cauliflower include cauliflower crust pizza and cauliflower and cheese soup.
- People who are using blood thinners should not suddenly start eating a lot of cauliflower because the high levels of vitamin K could react adversely with the drugs.
Cauliflower is rich in nutrients and fiber.
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
- 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
- 320 mg of potassium
- 51.6 mg of vitamin C
- 16.6 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K
- 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.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has been found to reduce the chance of developing many adverse health conditions.
Eating more plant foods, such as cauliflower, has been found to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Cauliflower is high in fiber and water. Both are important for preventing constipation, maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Studies have shown that dietary fiber may also help regulate the immune system and inflammation. As a result, it could help decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
A high-fiber intake has been associated with a significantly lower risk of developing:
- Coronary heart disease
- Certain gastrointestinal diseases
A higher fiber intake appears to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for people with obesity.
Cauliflower contains antioxidants that help prevent cellular mutations and reduce oxidative stress from free radicals.
One of these antioxidants is indole-3-carbinol or I3C, commonly found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower. It has been shown to reduce the risk of breast and reproductive cancers in men and women.
For the past 30 years, eating more cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of and lung and colon cancer.
Studies have suggested that sulfur-containing compounds, known as sulforaphane, can help fight different types of cancer. Sulforaphane is what gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite.
Researchers say that sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells.
The scientists are now studying sulforaphane to see if it might delay or impede cancer. So far, there have been promising results for melanoma, esophageal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
If foods that contain sulforaphane can inhibit HDAC enzymes, they could be used as a part of cancer treatment in the future.
Choline is an important and versatile “vitamin-like factor” in cauliflower that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory.
It also helps maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.
A low intake of vitamin K has been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis.
Vitamin K consumption can improve bone health by acting as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improving calcium absorption, and preventing excretion of calcium in the urine.
A high intake of fiber has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
People who take calcium supplements may be at risk of a buildup of calcium in the blood vessels, but taking vitamin K with calcium can lower the chances of this happening.
Cauliflower is available fresh or frozen. Fresh cauliflower should have a firm head with no dark spots, and bright green leaves attached to the stem. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.
- 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
Some more innovative ways to use cauliflower include:
- Cauliflower crust pizza
- Cauliflower “rice”
- Buffalo cauliflower “wings”
There may be some unwanted effects of consuming cauliflower, especially if it is eaten in excess.
Bloating and flatulence: Foods that are high in fiber may cause increased bloating and flatulence. However, most people can tolerate these foods in moderate portions.
Anyone who is increasing their intake of high-fiber foods for health purposes should do so gradually, and monitor symptoms to determine which foods, if any, cause bloating.
Blood clotting: High levels of vitamin K can cause problems for a person taking blood thinners, as vitamin K helps the blood clot.
Anyone who is taking blood-thinning medication, such as Coumadin, or warfarin, should not suddenly start eating large amounts of foods that contain vitamin K.
The overall diet is important for preventing disease and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods.