cruciferous health benefits

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable in the species Brassica oleracea, which is in the Brassicaceae family. It has flowers attached on the top connecting to a central stalk. Usually, people eat only the head. But the stems are also edible. You can use them in soups, coleslaw or salads.

It is a healthy vegetable and a significant source of Vitamin B. Eating cauliflower decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart diseases, increases energy, and overall lowers weight. Cauliflower is high in fiber and water. They prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive system, and lowers the risk of colon cancer.

Cauliflower is thought to have been domesticated in the Northeast Mediterranean region and it was used in Asia for many centuries before its introduction to Europe in the 16th Century. California produces about 89% of cauliflower in the United States. Fortunately, you can now find cauliflower in your nearest vegetable store, making it possible to enjoy its health benefits.  

Must-known facts about cauliflower: Cauliflower is an extremely healthy vegetable that comes with a load of health benefits. Here are some must-known facts about it:-

●     Cauliflower is a significant source of antioxidants, which is beneficial for reducing inflammation.

●     It has very low about of calories. One cup of cauliflower contains only 25 calories, which is an important factor in weight control.

●     Cauliflower is high in choline that’s involved in brain development and production of neurotransmitters.

●     It contains sulforaphane that have the potential to stop cancer growth.

●     You can use cauliflower in dishes like roasted garlic cauliflower and cauliflower and cheese soup.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Cauliflower:

Cauliflowers are very beneficial to our health. Here are some points that will show you in what ways they do that-

1.    Helps in digestion: Because of its richness in fiber and water, it helps to prevent constipation. It also reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. It lowers the risk of colon cancer. Cauliflower helps to decrease the risk of inflammation related conditions.

2.    Fights cancer: Cauliflower contains antioxidants. It helps to prevent cellular mutations and inhibit the growth of free radicals. It has two groups of antioxidants, glucosinolate and isothiocyanate. They slowdown the growth of cancer cells. The antioxidant named indole-3-carbinol or I3C, found in cauliflower, reduces the risk of breast and reproductive cancers in men and women.

3.    Helps in weight loss: It has only 25 calories per cup. Cauliflower is a low-calorie substitute for high-calorie foods, like rice and flour. So you can eat a lot with no weight gain. It boosts fullness of the stomach. So delays the return of hunger and helps to maintain blood sugar and insulin levels.

4.    Improves bone health: Vitamin K present in cauliflower improves bone health by acting as a modifier of bone matrix proteins.

5.   Helps in detoxification: It can prevent the damage done by carcinogens. It contains glucosinolate which protects the lungs and stomach from carcinogens.

6.    Fights Aging: Some natural substances in cauliflower, like sulforaphane, influence the genes to slow the biochemical process of aging. As a result, you will look much younger of your age. Cauliflower compounds also protect the brain and the nervous system functions. And they slow down the age-related cognitive decline.

7.   Protects the liver: Cauliflower is high in choline, which has many important functions in our body. It plays a major role in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes of our body. Those who don’t have enough choline in their body will have a higher risk of liver and heart disease, in addition to neurological disorders.

8.  Maintains electrolyte balance: The potassium of cauliflower helps to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body. It is also essential for blood pressure control and nervous system function.

9.    Reduces inflammation: Sulforaphane is anti-inflammatory. It is associated with strong blood vessels and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It has an effect in preventing diabetes and reduces the risk of kidney diseases.

10.  Prevents stress: One cup of cooked cauliflower has 73 to 77 percent amount of vitamin C. It also contains 19 percent amount of vitamin K and 8 percent amount of manganese. These Vitamins, C and K and manganese are the antioxidants which help to neutralize free radicals. These compounds protect the body cells from the oxidative stress.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Nutrition Facts of a Cauliflower (100gm):

●     Total calories: 27 calories

●     Water: 92.07 grams

●     Fiber: 2 grams

●     Protein: 2 grams 

●     Fat: 0.3 grams

●     Carbohydrate: 5 grams, including 2.1 g of fiber and 2 g of sugar

●     Calcium: 24 milligrams 

●     Magnesium: 16 milligrams 

●     Phosphorus: 47 milligrams 

●     Potassium: 320 milligrams 

●     Vitamin C: 52 milligrams 

●     Vitamin K: 17 micrograms 

●     Vitamin B6: 0.2 micrograms 

●     Folate: 61 micrograms 

Different Types of Cauliflower:

There are mainly four types of cauliflower.

●     White cauliflower: White cauliflower is the most common type of cauliflower. It has a white head known as “curd” surrounded by green leaves around it.

●     Orange cauliflower: Orange cauliflower has beta-carotene in it. So it has orange pigment. And it also has provitamin A compound. This orange cauliflowers are mainly found in Canada.

●     Green cauliflower: It is the first hybridized version of broccoli and cauliflower, named “broccoflower”. Green cauliflower’s flavor is sweet, mild and nutty, and its texture is tender like broccoli and less crumbly than cauliflower. It is available in both US and Europe since 1990s.

●     Purple cauliflower: Anthocyanin causes the purple color in a cauliflower. It is a phytochemical that you can also find in other red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables and also in red wine. In Great Britain and southern Italy you can find this cauliflower. 

 You can eat these colored cauliflowers raw, roasted, grilled, sautéed or steamed.

 Risks of Consuming too Much Cauliflower:

Consuming cauliflower in excess portion can have side effects. Some of them are potentially serious and some merely annoying. The risk factors of having too much cauliflowers are-

●     Eating too much cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower causes bloating and abdominal discomfort. It may accompany gas, diarrhea and malabsorption sometimes. These types of vegetables contain complex carbohydrates that don’t break down easily for digestion. Intestinal bacteria digest them in the intestine, to produce carbon and hydrogen dioxide gas. Then an enzyme, called alpha galactosidase, is required to break down sugars that may cause this gastric discomfort. Some people can’t produce enough of this enzyme. As a result, gastrointestinal problems take place.

●     Consuming too many cauliflowers can lower your blood sugar to an abnormally low level. It may result into hypoglycemia. If you are a diabetic patient and taking medication for it, then you should eat cauliflowers in a limited proportion.

●     Cauliflower contains potassium in it, which is very important for our body. But eating too much of cauliflower may increase the potassium level in our body. This high level of potassium in our body can lower the blood pressure to a dangerously low level, giving rise to hypotension. If you are already taking medication for controlling hypertension, then you should eat cauliflower in a limited proportion. This is because cauliflower can interfere with the blood pressure medication and drop our blood pressure very low.

●     Cauliflowers are an excellent source of purines and it’s too much consumption is dangerous for our kidneys. This is because purines breakdown in the body and form uric acid. Then it triggers a gout attack in some individuals and ultimately gives rise to kidney stones. So we should eat cauliflower in a limited amount to avoid kidney damages.

●     Too much intake of cauliflower may interfere with iodine absorption. Iodine plays an essential role in thyroid functioning, and low iodine levels can lead to hypothyroidism. So we shouldn’t eat cauliflower in excess amount.

Best Ways to Eat Cauliflower:

Cauliflowers are a very famous vegetable all around the world. They blend easily with many dishes, which provide a delicate taste. Here are some best ways of having cauliflower:-

1.    You can use cauliflower in a crunchy salad. Chop the cauliflower and mix it with fennel, white beans, and a tangy dressing for amazing flavors and textures.

2.    You can have them roasted too. It is one of the best ways to enjoy this vegetable. Roast it until it becomes crispy and caramelized, then toss with some lemon and Parmesan cheese. And you will get a delicious meal to eat.

3.    You can use cauliflower in pasta as well. It makes an excellent topping for pasta. 

4.    Steam the cauliflower and make it more tender. Cook it for 5-8 minutes, then season it with soy sauce or salt and pepper. Your cauliflower rice is ready to eat! You can eat cauliflower rice instead of white rice to lose weight.

5.    You can make pizza crust with cauliflower which is a great way to eat tasty but less calorie containing dish at the same time.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cauliflower:

Q- What parts of the cauliflower do I eat?​

A- All parts of the cauliflower is edible. But mostly the white head part called “curd” is eaten.

Q- What are the benefits of eating cauliflower?

A-Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamins. It is high in fiber and water. Also, it has antioxidants in it.

Q- How does cauliflower help prevent cancer?

A- Cauliflower helps reinforce our body’s natural detoxifying process, and it has antioxidants. So it supports anti-inflammation. If the body is low in antioxidants, cells are more likely to become damaged, opening a doorway for cancers to develop.

Q- Is cauliflower bad for us?

A- Over eating of cauliflower may cause gastrointestinal distress, for example gas and bloating.

Q- Is it better to eat cauliflower raw or cooked?

A – You can eat Cauliflowers both raw and cooked. Raw cauliflower keeps the most antioxidants, but cooking cauliflower increases indole levels.