Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable from Brassica family. It is rich in fiber that makes you feel full longer, thus plays essential role to weight loss and healthy digestive tract as well.
It also contains phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight against cancer. Another nutrient that you can find in cauliflower is choline that enhances your memory, thus improved learning.
In terms of vitamin, minerals and phytonutrient content, cauliflower is included in the top 20 foods. The good thing is that this cruciferous vegetable is packed with nutrients, yet low in calorie.
A cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.” — Mark Twain
Interesting Facts About Cauliflower
Labeled as a superfood, cauliflower has healthy attributes, but it’s not well-loved on the dinner table. It is not interesting to look at and eat that’s why it should be cooked creatively.
To enjoy the most of the nutrients of this vegetable, you should avoid prolonged cooking. In fact, cooking it for more than thirty minutes will reduce the health benefits that you can reap from it.
Eating 100 grams of cauliflower you can obtain the following daily nutrition value:
- Vitamin C – 80%
- Vitamin K – 20%
- Vitamin B6 – 10%
Other dietary requirements that you can get from 100 grams of cauliflower include 25 calories, 5g carbohydrates, 0.3g protein, 1.9 g protein, 1.9 g sugar and 2 g fiber. You can also obtain smaller amounts of manganese, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, iron, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.
List of Healthy Benefits Offered by Cauliflower
- Reduces the risk of developing cancer
Cauliflower contains chemopreventive properties that reduces the risk of developing cancer on its early stage (1).
It also works as an anti-mutagen that inhibits the development of the chemically induced carcinogenesis. Likewise, consuming cauliflower helps to stop further reproduction of tumor cells.
Several studies conducted by the Medicine and Biology showed that high intake of cruciferous vegetables can indeed prevents the possibility of developing different types of cancer (2).
- Promotes cardiovascular health
Cauliflower contains good amount of vitamin K that shows anti-inflammatory properties. This vitamin is an essential nutrient that prevents vitamin K deficiency and hemorrhages.
Vitamin K can also lessen the risk of heart disease, otherwise deficiency of this vitamin doesn’t inhibit the formation of the blood vessel calcification (3).
The presence of sulforaphane in cauliflower helps in maintaining blood vessels that is essential for healthy blood circulation. This way, you’ll be protected from experiencing hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke and myocardial infarction.
- Makes your bones stronger
Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C that is necessary for collagen production. Apparently, collagen shields your joints and bones from inflammatory damage.
Studies showed that collagen has therapeutical effects that can treat osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (4).
Sufficient intake of vitamin K is also needed to ensure better bone health and prevent bone loss.
- Supports brain health
It is necessary to consume foods that are rich in choline. This B vitamin is important for brain development and cauliflower is the best option (5).
Choline and phosphorus are versatile nutrients that aid to repair cell membranes. It also improves muscle movement, learning and memory.
Aside from maintaining cellular membranes, choline also assist in the transmission of nerve impulses, thus reduces chronic inflammation.
Consuming cauliflower is beneficial for your brain health and better cognitive functioning.
- Fights inflammation
Inflammation is one of the culprits of many chronic diseases today. Although your body has the ability to manage inflammation, but there are instances in which your inflammatory response is not functioning well.
Incorrect inflammatory response can cause damage to your body that may lead to inflammation of organs. Likewise, the anti-inflammatory compounds of cauliflower rid the free radicals out of your body and reduces the oxidative stress.
Consuming a cup of cauliflower daily can boost immunity, keep your body free from harmful bacteria and reduce inflammation.
- Supports detoxification
The nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower supports detoxification of your body. This vegetable contains a phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinol that activates and regulates the detoxifying enzymes.
A recent study also suggests that indole-3-carbinol exerts anti-fibrosis, anti-tumor, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, detoxification, and anti-inflammation effects in patients with hepatitis (6).
The detoxifying properties of cauliflower are very important for the proper functioning of your liver. If your liver produces detoxifying enzymes, free radical damage is at bay.
- Improves digestion
The water and fiber content of cauliflower is beneficial to keep your digestive tract healthy. It also lowers the risk of developing colon cancer and prevents constipation.
It’s important to obtain enough fiber regularly to stimulate discharge of toxins through stools and bile.
The dietary fiber also averts gastrointestinal diseases, gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, colon cancer, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
A study by the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating cauliflower modifies the human gut bacterial communities that eventually improves digestion (7).
- Helps in pregnancy
This vegetable contains folate that is beneficial for pregnancy. This nutrient prevents neural tube effects in the fetus.
Aside from folate, cauliflower has other vitamins and minerals essential for pregnancy and for overall health of both the baby and the mother (8).
- Protects from ultraviolet radiation
Research have found out that the sulforaphane content of cauliflower can protect your skin from the damaging effect of the ultraviolet radiation (9). It also secures your body against cellular damage, skin cancer and UV-induced erythema.
- Stimulates iron absorption
As discussed above, cauliflower has higher content of vitamin C that facilitates better iron absorption.
Vitamin C has the capability to counteract the effects of phytonutrients that averts iron absorption. This vitamin also stops the formation of unabsorbable or insoluble iron compounds (10).
Thus, to enhance the capability of your body to absorb iron, the best thing to do is to add cauliflower in your diet.
- Helps in weight loss
Cauliflower is a low-calorie and non-fat vegetable. It has low levels of sugar and carbohydrates, but rich in fiber.
That’s why if you’re trying to shed unwanted pounds, you should consider eating cauliflower. It will make you feel full without worrying too many intake of calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fat.
Water weight is also prevented because cauliflower can keep the excess water to move out your body. Likewise, it also has indoles that fight against obesity.
The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry published a study showed that eating this vegetable can prevent various metabolic disorders at the same time stimulate fat-burning thermogenesis that initiates weight loss (11).
- Balance hormones
Taking diets that are rich in antioxidants like cauliflower can help in maintaining the proper balance of hormones. This is possible by keeping the normal level of estrogen.
Consuming at least a cup of cruciferous vegetables won’t only improve your health but also rebalance the estrogen levels (12).
It’s important to maintain the healthy balance of estrogen, otherwise it can lead to health problems such as autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, ovarian cancer and chronic fatigue.
- Supports healthy vision
Macular degeneration is closely linked to old age. To prevent blindness, it is recommended to consume foods that are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
A study revealed that macular degeneration can be avoided through intake of vitamin C, zinc and beta-carotene (13). Likewise, the sulforaphane present in cauliflower also protects the retinal tissues from potential damage.
- Fights against respiratory diseases
Cauliflower has indole-3-carbinol that fights against respiratory diseases particularly recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. This condition affects the vocal cords, trachea, bronchi and the lungs (14).
This health benefit of cauliflower was supported by several researches.
- Lowers cholesterol level
Cauliflower is beneficial to losing weight as it is rich in phytosterols. It blocks the absorption of cholesterol specifically in the intestines, thus lowers the cholesterol level.
A study revealed that the phytosterols also help to reduce the LDL or the bad cholesterol level. That’s why most weight loss supplements have been using phytosterols as one of the ingredients (15).
Likewise, this vegetable is also packed with other nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients help to lower the bad cholesterol and at the same time prevents blockage in the arteries.
- Reduces blood pressure levels
As cauliflower reduces bad cholesterol, it can also lower the blood pressure levels through the compound sulforaphane (16).
Another study was published supporting the claims that sulforaphane can regulate the kidney function.
- Regulates heart function
Potassium is one of the nutrients that you can find in cauliflower. It regulates the heart function and muscle as well.
Having enough potassium in your body reduces the risks of suffering from stroke and developing coronary heart disease (17).
Likewise, potassium can also normalize the electrolyte balance.
- Prevents neurodegenerative problems
Sulforaphane and indoles are compounds that prevents neurodegenerative problems to progress.
These compounds stimulate the detoxification enzymes that increases the glutathione levels. It treats neuronal injuries that may result from inflammation and oxidative stress in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, the vitamin E content of cauliflower lowers the risk of developing dementia. Cruciferous vegetables in which the cauliflower belongs are rich in antioxidants that have neuroprotective capacity (18).
- Prevents colitis
Since cauliflower has anti-inflammatory properties, it also has the ability to prevent ulcerative colitis (19). Likewise, phenylisothiocyanate that has protective effect can repair colon tissues damage.
- Decreases the risk of diabetes
Consuming cauliflower regularly spares you from developing diabetes as this vegetable is rich in vitamin C and potassium.
An individual that has insufficient level of potassium is at higher risk of developing diabetes. The potassium and sodium content also helps to normalize the glucose metabolism.
The pancreas uses potassium to produce insulin hormone that counteracts the increase in blood sugar levels.
Vitamin B6 is also helpful to gestational diabetes patients as it enhances glucose tolerance (20).
- Keeps the immune system strong
Aside from antioxidants, cauliflower is also rich in immune-strengthening nutrients. Likewise, vitamin C also fuel up the production of lymphocytes and the thymus gland that are essential to the immune system.
Most supplements contain vitamin that is known to help strengthening the immune system. Thus, protects your body against diseases like diarrhea infections, pneumonia and malaria.
The health benefits that you can reap from cauliflower are unlimited. All you have to do is to know how to integrate this cruciferous vegetable in your diet.
There are simple recipes that you can follow in case you don’t have any idea how to do it. Although cauliflower is a healthy food, it also shows some drug interactions and side effects. That’s why you should consult first your doctor before adding it into your diet especially if you’re under medications.
Janice Thompson is a nutritionist. She loves to share her healthy lifestyle and diet tips.