Broccoli's paler cousin, cauliflower, is a delicious veggie that you definitely need in your diet for a good health boost! While many think cauliflower is bland, it can actually be as flavorful and savory as it is healthy when it is prepared properly. Despite its white color, which is often associated with carbs you want to limit or avoid, cauliflower is actually a very versatile and vitamin-rich vegetable. It is a good source of Vitamins C and K, folate, and fiber. It is also packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals which play a significant role in chronic disease prevention.
Cauliflower originated in Asia Minor and it derived from wild cabbage. It went through many changes over time and it made appearances in Turkey and Italy around 600 B.C. and became popular in France in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, cauliflower is cultivated and grown all over the world and in more colors than just white. Cauliflower comes in many colors, such as purple, green, and orange, thanks to selective breeding. However, they might not be as nutritionally rich as their white version.
Cauliflower Health Benefits
Cauliflower has been linked to cancer prevention, heart health and has many qualities that can positively impact your health. Here are some of the most important benefits that cauliflower provides you with:
- Antioxidant Properties: Cauliflower is rich in Vitamins C and K, as well as manganese which are the antioxidants that maintain your body healthy. They reduce oxidative stress and fight diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Just one cup of cooked cauliflower can provide you with 73% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C, 19% of your daily vitamin K, and 8% of your daily recommended manganese intake.
- Improved Digestion: One cup of cauliflower contains 11% of your recommended daily amount of fiber, which promotes smooth digestion. This helps you maintain colorectal health and reduces the risk of hemorrhoids. Sulforaphane, which is a compound found in cauliflower, helps keep your stomach lining healthy, by preventing the Helicobacter pylori bacteria from overgrowing and clinging to your stomach wall.
- Pregnancy Essentials: Cauliflower has a high content of folate, which is essential during pregnancy. It helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the fetus. Choline, another compound found in cauliflower, always plays a role in this. Just one cup of cooked cauliflower provides you with 11% of your recommended daily amount of choline.
- Cancer Prevention: The glucosinolates found in cauliflower may help reduce the risks of certain cancers. The isothiocyanates derived from the glucosinolates also encourage the elimination of carcinogens from the body, which results in an anti-cancer effect. Furthermore, sulforaphane, another compound found in cauliflower, inhibits breast and pancreatic cancer stem cells, while glucobrassicin (which is found in more cruciferous vegetables) reduces the risk of cancer thanks to its content of indole-3-carbinol (I3C).
- Wound Healing: Vitamin C is known to play a significant role in wound healing, skin, and hair health. It contributes to collagen synthesis and development, which is essential for healthy skin and hair. Cauliflower is a great source of Vitamin C, whether you eat it cooked or raw.
- Reduced Inflammation: Just one cup of cooked cauliflower provides you with 9% of your recommended daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids. These are well-known anti-inflammatory compounds. Omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the enzyme prostaglandins on a cellular level, which prevents these hormones from triggering inflammation. Choline is another compound that reduces chronic inflammation, alongside sulforaphane, I3C, and vitamin K.
- Heart Health: The compound sulforaphane is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and strong blood vessels. This compound's anti-inflammatory properties help protect you against hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction.
- Bone Health: Vitamin K plays a significant role in bone health. It increases the effectiveness of osteocalcin, which is a protein involved in mineralization that promotes a healthy calcium balance. One study suggests that women who consume at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K per day, reduce the risk of breaking their hip by 30%.
- Brain Health: The choline in cauliflower is associated with verbal and visual memories. Higher levels of choline can improve cognitive performance, executive function, sensory-motor speed, and perceptual speed. Sulforaphane's anti-inflammatory properties can also help improve cognitive function after a brain injury, according to one study.
The most common ways to cook cauliflower are steaming and boiling, but you can roast it, saute it, or eat it raw if you want it to have more flavor. The florets, leaves, and stalks are edible and they can be cooked or eaten raw. It also has a distinct aroma which is caused by the high levels of the nutritional compound glucosinolates. Shorter cooking times can actually minimize the odor if you don't really like it.
There are plenty of options that help you incorporate this healthy veggie into your diet. You can cut it up and eat it raw with hummus or your favorite dressing, you can mash it up and have it as a substitute for mashed potatoes, or you can roast it. There are plenty of creative recipes out there that you'll definitely enjoy. Find some of the healthiest recipes you can try below!
Nutrition Facts - 1 cup (100 g) Raw Cauliflower
- 25 calories
- Total Carbohydrate 5g (2%)
- Total Fat 0g (0%)
- Cholesterol 0mg (0%)
- Dietary Fiber 3g (10%)
- Sodium 30mg (1%)
- Sugars 2g
- Protein 2g
- Vitamin A 0%
- Vitamin C 77%
- Calcium 2%
- Iron 2%
This recipe is a total crowd pleaser with an interesting mix of spicy flavors. It's easy and quick to make, so you can try it out as the perfect side dish or snack for the season.
- 1 cauliflower head chopped into florets
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Spread the florets on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the spices and oils.
- Roast them for about 25 minutes at 450° F, until they are golden.
- Serve warm or cold and enjoy!
This is not just another cauliflower roast, this is a WHOLE cauliflower roast. This is an amazingly delicious dish that can be served with a leafy salad and lime juice dressing, perfect for a light vegetarian dinner.
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
- 1 juiced lime
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of curry powder
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- Preheat your over and grease a small baking sheet with the vegetable oil.
- Remove the green leaves and the woody stem from the cauliflower head.
- In a bowl, mix the yogurt, lime juice, cumin, garlic, powder, curry powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Put the cauliflower head in the mix to coat it evenly.
- Place the fully coated cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast it until the surface is lightly browned about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let it cool, cut into wedges, and enjoy!
This is a gluten-free and raw-vegan friendly recipe that is very savory. Replacing the traditional grains in tabbouleh with raw cauliflower is a great way to increase your dose of veggies and add texture to this salad.
- 1-2 juiced lemons
- 6 cups of cauliflower florets
- 1 cucumber diced cucumber
- 1 diced tomato
- 3/4 cup of finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor until it is finely chopped into grain-like pieces.
- Cover a work surface with a clean and dry kitchen towel.
- Turn the cauliflower out onto it and twist it in the towel to get rid of any moisture.
- Transfer the cauliflower grains to a mixing bowl and add the lemon juice, cucumber, tomato, dill, mint, parsley and olive oil.
- Whisk it together and season to taste with a pinch of salt.
- Serve at room temperature and enjoy!
If you want to boost your health, cauliflower is the right veggie for you. Not only it has amazing health benefits, but it’s low in calories, which can help you lose weight if you’re aiming for that. Plus, cauliflower is easy to prepare and because it is so versatile, you can eat in a bunch of different ways, from raw florets with a dipping sauce to roasted with eggs and cheese. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Try these cauliflower recipes to add extra veggies to your diet. These foods make for delicious meals or snacks that are low in calories, vegetarian-friendly, and packed with healthy nutrients. You can replace your bread and potatoes with cauliflower if you want something savory, but healthier. Make sure you buy your cauliflower from organic sources to get the most out the benefits it provides and enjoy your cauliflower dishes for a delicious health boost!