Cauliflower, has often been dismissed by people as being the “tasteless” white broccoli, and as a result, many have been missing out on all the benefits that come with eating this underappreciated vegetable.
It may not be on the level of its’ superfood green cousin, but Cauliflower provides more than enough health benefits that makes it more than worthwhile to incorporate it into your diet. Let’s find out what those health benefits are.
Cauliflower meets the main criteria for a vegetable to be considered good, and that’s high marks in vitamins in minerals, and low marks in things like sugar, cholesterol, carbohydrates and fats.
Vitamins and minerals that Cauliflower boasts a notable amount of are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin B6
1 serving of cauliflower, provides 77% of your daily recommended intake for Vitamin C; a hefty amount. Like all members of the brassica family, it also provides a large amount of Vitamin K; roughly 20% DRI.
The most standout nutritional fact of Cauliflower however, is Choline. Choline is a nutrient that most people don’t get nearly enough of, and a serving of cauliflower provides 11% DRI.
Cauliflower is also a very good source of Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Fiber, Manganese and Phosphorus, providing 14%, 13%, 12%, 10%, 7%, and 6% DRI respectively.
Last but not least, the other part of cauliflower that is great, is that it has an exceptionally low amount of calories and fat per serving. Each serving of cauliflower only has about 29 calories, and 0.3 grams of fat.
Keep in mind that like most vegetables, cauliflower loses most of its’ nutritional value if you cook it the wrong way. Don’t soak it in oil and fry it, stick to eating it raw, steaming, or sautéing it.
Health Benefits of Eating Cauliflower
1.Great source of Choline
As stated above, Choline, is a very important nutrient that most people don’t get enough of every day. Choline has been proven to be very helpful in brain development and function.
Expecting mothers should make sure to get ample amount of choline each day for this reason alone. A lack of choline can increase the risk of neural tube defects.
Choline also promotes nerve function, liver function, memory function, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Choline is like an oil that keeps the machine that is your body, running smoothly. Getting enough choline can help keep your brain healthy and functioning properly.
Another positive of cauliflower, is that being a great source of Choline is perfect for vegans and vegetarians. The highest sources of choline are eggs, meats and fish, all of which are things that many vegans and vegetarians do not eat.
Cauliflower is one of the biggest vegetable providers of choline out there, making it almost essential for a plant eater’s diet.
Studies have shown that choline deficiency could result in muscle damage, and increase the risk of running into liver and kidney problems later in life. Short term effects range from difficulty concentrating and memory issues.
2.Fights off and prevents cancer
Ongoing studies, have shown that cauliflower has a lot of potential for fighting of cancers.
Cauliflower contains a lot of glucosinolates, a sulfur containing compound (Sulforaphane is responsible for the strong sulfur smell that cauliflower can have when cooked) and thiocyanates, which are great for fighting of an assortment of cancers. These compounds can kill off cancer cells, and slow down the growth of tumors.
Most notably cauliflower aids in the prevention of prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer. Ongoing studies also show it having some potential in combating bladder cancer, but so far, the studies are relatively inconclusive.
3.Great weight control food
Thanks to its’ low amount of calories and fat, cauliflower is a great food for anyone on a diet and or looking to lose some weight.
Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, which is crucial for any diet, as it helps make people feel fuller and for longer. This greatly helps curb any cravings you might get, preventing you from eating any cheat foods.
4.Great for digestive health
Like all foods with a good amount of dietary fiber, cauliflower is great for your digestive health.
Fiber, improves functioning in the digestive tract, as well as adds bulk to your stool making it easier to pass through your system. This helps prevent cases of constipation and diarrhea.
5.Promotes your body’s detoxification
Your body has its’ own two-phase detoxification process, and cauliflower can help with both phases! Cauliflower contains gluconasturtiin, glucoraphanin, and glucobrassicin, all of which help trigger the enzymes used in phase one of detoxification as well as improves their regulation. The sulfur containing nutrients of cauliflower also improves the functionality of phase two detoxification.
6.Anti-Inflammatory food/Great for heart health
Cauliflower is an excellent food keeping inflammatory in within the body low.
Thanks to all the antioxidants and nutrients in cauliflower, lipids within the blood vessels can be prevented from accumulating and oxidative stress is lowered.
This also makes Cauliflower a great superfood for maintaining a healthy heart.
7.Can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s’
Along with cauliflower’s high amount of choline, which can maintain and improve brain health, cauliflower is also rich in Vitamin E, which has been proven to significantly lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
8.Great for bone health
Vitamin K is essential for maintaining the strength and healthiness of your bones, and cauliflower is overflowing with it. Getting enough Vitamin K can help lower the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis later in life.
One serving of cauliflower gives more than 3/4ths of your DRI of Vitamin K.
9.Easy to eat: No taste, no problem!
Although it is possible for cooked cauliflower to possess a foul sulfur odor, for most people, cauliflower will be near odorless and tasteless. And usually, that is considered one of its flaws. In actuality, it’s a strength.
Many people, no matter how good a food is for them, will refuse to eat certain vegetables if they taste bad. Since cauliflower barely has any taste, you don’t need to worry about this! This is especially good in the case of children who are very picky eaters.
If need be, you can add a little bit of their favorite dipping sauce or dressing (At least initially) to help ease them into liking it, and after that, it should be smooth sailing.
Side Effects of Eating Cauliflower/Health Risks
Too much of a good thing, is a bad thing is how the saying goes, and yes, this does apply to cauliflower. Although it possesses a lot of pros, there are also a few cons to keep in mind when eating this vegetable.
Do not eat cauliflower if you as using blood thinners.
Cauliflower contains a lot of vitamin K, and as is the case with all foods high in vitamin K, if you are currently using blood thinners, then you should avoid eating cauliflower. Vitamin K may interfere with and counteract the effects of your blood thinner.
Take precaution when eating cauliflower if you’re worried about gout
This point is a bit of a contested one. Cauliflower does have a notable amount of purines and when the body breaks down those purines, uric acid is formed. When you have too much uric acid built up, uric acid crystals can form and cause gout flares. Among other things.
Gout is an extremely painful form of inflammatory arthritis and gout flares can pop up and last for a varied amount of time. Men are more likely than women to suffer from this, so that is something that you should keep in mind.
However, as I said, the point of cauliflower being a food that can increase the likelihood of gout and gout flares has been contested. Some medical professionals have concluded that while other foods with high concentration of purine, such as meats, can cause gout, cauliflower doesn’t have enough gout in it to do so. Still, it is better safe than sorry, especially for men. Cauliflower has a lot of benefits, but you can’t find them elsewhere.
Eating too much cauliflower, may cause the formation of kidney stones
Just like with gout, cauliflower’s relatively high amount of purines make it a potentially bad food to overindulge in, if you have kidney issues.
Cauliflower may not have as much purines as meat and fish, but it has enough that the levels of uric acid in them may result in the uric acid forming into uric acid kidney stones. Uric acid kidney stones are the second most common kidney stone (Although relatively uncommon) after calcium stones. Once again, better safe than sorry. If you have a family history of kidney problems or are experiencing any risk factors, it may be wise to give cauliflower a wide birth.
Cauliflower may interfere with the functionality of your thyroid
Another better safe than sorry precaution, cauliflower, along with other brassica family vegetables, may inhibit your thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. Cauliflower contains cyanogenic glucosides, which block iodine absorption. Your thyroid needs iodine in order to create the hormones T4 and T3, also known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
When your thyroid isn’t producing enough T3 and T4, it results in hypothyroidism which can lead to things like memory problems and fatigue. However, keep in mind, that you would need a pretty high intake of cauliflower in order for it alone to cause you to get hyperthyroidism. Just keep your cauliflower intake moderate, and you should be fine.
Cauliflower may cause gas and bloating
Unsurprisingly, a food that has a lot of sulfur containing compounds, can eat up causing serious cases of gas and bloating.
Cauliflower contains a complex sugar known as raffinose that cannot be digested, and as a result cause gas and bloating. Adding insult to injury, cauliflower has a notable amount of soluble fiber, which slows down the passage of food in your intestine. It requires a lot to break down, and the process to do so, causes gas.
Given the amount of sulfur compounds found in cauliflower, cauliflower-induced gas, could probably clear a room. Cauliflower is definitely not a party food, so leave it at home if you’re going to someone’s home-warming party.
While it may be true that cauliflower doesn’t quite stack up entirely to its famed green cousin broccoli, it is more than worth incorporating into your diet.
Since it is tasteless, you can really make it taste however you want and make it a great standalone diss. Garlic and herbs, are commonly used to spruce it up a bit. Cold or hot, you can also incorporate it into a variety of dishes. Salads, stews, casseroles, mac n’ cheese, pastas and more. You can mash it up and make it a healthier substitute for mashed potatoes, and you can even use it as crust for a pizza.
Cauliflower is great for everyone, but it really is great for kids who are picky eaters. Just give them some ketchup to dip it into, and they’ll never know that they’re eating a superfood vegetable.
Just under no circumstances overcook cauliflower. If you do, that’s when the sulfur smell comes out to play, and the abhorrence of it is not exaggerated. It truly is awful. Keep away from steaming it to death, and you should be fine.