WHFoods RecommendationsYou'll want to include cauliflower as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups. Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy cauliflower and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.
As with all vegetables be sure not to overcook cauliflower. We suggest Healthy Sautéeing cauliflower rather than the more traditional methods of boiling or steaming, which makes them waterlogged, mushy and lose much of its flavor. Cut cauliflower florets into quarters and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking. For great tasting cauliflower add 1 tsp of turmeric when adding the cauliflower to the skillet.
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Cauliflower provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Cauliflower can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Cauliflower, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- How to Enjoy
- Individual Concerns
- Nutritional Profile
Detox Support Provided by CauliflowerThe detox support provided by cauliflower includes antioxidant nutrients to boost Phase 1 detoxification activities and sulfur-containing nutrients to boost Phase 2 activities. Cauliflower also contains phytonutrients called glucosinolates that can help activate detoxification enzymes and regulate their activity. Three glucosinolates that have been clearly identified in cauliflower are glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin, and gluconasturtiian. While the glucosinolate content of cauliflower is definitely significant from a health standpoint, cauliflower contains about one-fourth as much total glucosinolates as Brussels sprouts, about one-half as much as Savoy cabbage, about 60% as much as broccoli, and about 70% as much as kale.
If we fail to give our body's detox system adequate nutritional support, yet continue to expose ourselves to unwanted toxins through our lifestyle and our dietary choices, we can place our bodies at increased risk of toxin-related damage that can eventually increase our cells' risk of becoming cancerous. That's one of the reasons it's so important to bring cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables into our diet on a regular basis.
Cauliflower's Antioxidant BenefitsAs an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese, cauliflower provides us with two core conventional antioxidants. But its antioxidant support extends far beyond the conventional nutrients into the realm of phytonutrients. Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol are among cauliflower's key antioxidant phytonutrients. This broad spectrum antioxidant support helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells. Chronic oxidative stress-meaning chronic presence over overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules and cumulative damage to our cells by these molecules-is a risk factor for development of most cancer types. By providing us with such a great array of antioxidant nutrients, cauliflower helps lower our cancer risk by helping us avoid chronic and unwanted oxidative stress.
Cauliflower's Anti-inflammatory BenefitsAs an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), cauliflower provides us with two hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several of the body's most widely-used families of anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. In addition to these two anti-inflammatory components, one of the glucosinolates found in cauliflower-glucobrassicin-can be readily converted into an isothiocyanate molecule called ITC, or indole-3-carbinol. I3C is an anti-inflammatory compound that can actually operate at the genetic level, and by doing so, prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
Like chronic oxidative stress and chronic weakened detox ability, chronic unwanted inflammation can significantly increase our risk of cancers and other chronic diseases (especially cardiovascular diseases).
Cauliflower and Cardiovascular SupportScientists have not always viewed cardiovascular problems as having a central inflammatory component, but the role of unwanted inflammation in creating problems for our blood vessels and circulation has become increasingly fundamental to an understanding of cardiovascular diseases. The anti-inflammatory support provided by cauliflower (including its vitamin K and omega-3 content) makes it a food also capable of providing cardiovascular benefits. Of particular interest is its glucoraphanin content. Glucoraphanin is a glucosinolate that can be converted into the isothiocyanate (ITC) sulforaphane. Not only does sulforaphane trigger anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system-it may also be able to help prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage.
Cauliflower and Digestive SupportThe fiber content of cauliflower-nearly 12 grams in every 100 calories-makes this cruciferous vegetable a great choice for digestive system support. You're going to get nearly half of the fiber Daily Value from 200 calories' worth of cauliflower. Yet the fiber content of cauliflower is only one of its digestive support mechanisms. Researchers have determined that the sulforaphane made from a glucosinolate in cauliflower (glucoraphanin) can help protect the lining of your stomach. Sulforaphane provides you with this health benefit by preventing bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach or too much clinging by this bacterium to your stomach wall.
Other Health Benefits from CauliflowerThe anti-inflammatory nature of glucosinolates/isothiocyanates and other nutrients found in cauliflower has been the basis for new research on inflammation-related health problems and the potential role of cauliflower in their prevention. While current studies are examining the benefits of cruciferous vegetables as a group rather than cauliflower in particular, promising research is underway that should shed light on the potential benefits of cauliflower in relationship to our risk of the following inflammation-related health problems: Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis.
Surrounding the curd are ribbed, coarse green leaves that protect it from sunlight, impeding the development of chlorophyll. While this process contributes to the white coloring of most of the varieties, cauliflower can also be found in light green and purple colors. Between these leaves and the florets are smaller, tender leaves that are edible.
Raw cauliflower is firm yet a bit spongy in texture. It has a slightly sulfurous and faintly bitter flavor.
The milk, sweet, almost nutty flavor of cauliflower is at its best from December through March when it is in season and most plentiful in your local markets.
The cauliflower went through many transformations and reappeared in the Mediterranean region, where it has been an important vegetable in Turkey and Italy since at least 600 B.C.
It gained popularity in France in the mid-16th century and was subsequently cultivated in Northern Europe and the British Isles. The United States, France, Italy, India, and China are countries that produce significant amounts of cauliflower.
Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher. As its size is not related to its quality, choose one that best suits your needs.
Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week. To prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters, store it with the stem side down.
If you purchase pre-cut cauliflower florets, consume them within one or two days as they will lose their freshness after that. Since cooking causes cauliflower to spoil quicker, consume it within two to three days of placing in the refrigerator after cooking.
Tips for preparing cauliflowerCauliflower florets are the part of the plant that most people eat. However, the stem and leaves are edible too and are especially good for adding to soup stocks.
To cut cauliflower, first remove the outer leaves and then slice the florets at the base where they meet the stalks. You can further cut them, if you desire pieces that are smaller or of uniform size. Trim any brown coloration that may exist on the edges.
Cauliflower contains phytonutrients that release odorous sulfur compounds when heated. These odors become stronger with increased cooking time. If you want to minimize odor, retain the vegetable's crisp texture, and reduce nutrient loss, cook the cauliflower for only a short time.
Some phytonutrients may react with iron in cookware and cause the cauliflower to take on a brownish hue. To prevent this, add a bit of lemon juice to the water in which you blanch the cauliflower.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking CauliflowerFrom all of the cooking methods we tried when cooking cauliflower, our favorite is Healthy Sauté. We think that it provides the greatest flavor and is also a method that allows for concentrated nutrient retention. Begin by cutting cauliflower florets into quarters and let sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting benefits. To Healthy Sauté cauliflower, heat 5 TBS of broth (vegetable or chicken) or water in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add cauliflower florets (cut into quarters) and turmeric, cover, and Healthy Sauté for 5 minutes. Toss with our Mediterranean Dressing. For details see, 5-Minute Healthy Sautéed Cauliflower
A Few Quick Serving IdeasPuree cooked cauliflower, add fennel seeds and your other favorite herbs and spices and serve as soup.
Because of its shape and taste, cauliflower florets make wonderful crudite for dipping in sauces.
WHFoods Recipes That Feature Cauliflower
- Poached Halibut with Fennel and Cauliflower
- 5-Minute Healthy Sautéed Cauliflower
- Asian Sauteed Cauliflower
Cauliflower and PurinesCauliflower contains naturally occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as cauliflower. For more on this subject, please see What are purines and in which foods are they found?
Cauliflower as a "Goitrogenic" FoodCauliflower is sometimes referred to as a "goitrogenic" food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves-cauliflower included-are not "goitrogenic" in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called "goitrogenic"-such as the cruciferous vegetables (including cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) and soyfoods-do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Nor is it scientifically correct to say that foods "contain goitrogens," at least not if you are thinking about goitrogens as a category of substances like proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. With respect to the health of our thyroid gland, all that can be contained in a food are nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits but which, under certain circumstances, can also interfere with thyroid function. The term "goitrogenic food" makes it sound as if something is wrong with the food, but that is simply not the case. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances. For more, see an An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: cauliflower.