Enjoyed cooked or raw, cauliflower is a great addition to your Healthiest Way of Eating, and now it’s available year-round. While green vegetables may contain more chlorophyll, cauliflower is also rich in nutrients and, like its cousins, cabbage, kale, and broccoli, provides health-promoting compounds not found in many other vegetables. Learn all about how to buy, clean, cook so that you get all health benefits cauliflowers have to offer.
Cauliflower or cabbage flower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten.
Cauliflowers belong to the cruciferous family. It is a white flowering vegetable that is known to have many health benefits. This vegetable has a good proportion of sulphur compound and is also known to support the liver’s ability to neutralize toxins. The members of this family also have the ability to prevent cancers. So read the tab ‘Health Benefits’ to know all about the cauliflower health benefits that you can have.
One of the best ways to eat cauliflower to maximize nutrients is to eat it raw. However, for those who don’t like the crunch or taste, try this mashed cauliflower recipe which is a delicious and healthy substitute for traditional mashed potatoes.
Cauliflowers, although traditionally grown in winters and spring, can now be found all year long in almost all markets. This is due to the huge demand of cauliflowers all across the year.
Read our tabs on Cleaning & Preparation, Nutrition and Health Benefits to know and understand all about the cauliflower health benefits and how you can maximize them in your every day life.
More sources on cauliflower health benefits
Some other sources of information on cauliflowers and cauliflower health benefits.
Cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbohydrates but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density.
Boiling reduces the levels of these compounds, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 75% after thirty minutes.
Storage: The best way to store cauliflower is in the refrigerator in a plastic or paper bag. Store cauliflower with the stem-side down to prevent any moisture from collecting in the florets and possibly causing the head to spoil.
The cool temperatures of the crisper drawers in a refrigerator will keep a raw, unwashed head of cauliflower fresh for a week to 10 days.
Cleaning & Cutting: Use cool running water to rinse away any dirt, bugs and pesticides that have gotten trapped in the cauliflower’s tight florets. Watch carefully, as spiders like to hide in between the flowers.
If you notice any signs of worms or insects, which sometimes appears in cabbage, soak the head in salt water or vinegar water for 15-20 minutes first.
Use a sharp knife to trim away any brown spots. Cut the cauliflower into 1-inch florets for easy freezing. You can also use your hands to split the florets apart.
Watch a video on how to cut cauliflowers
How to Buy: Look for white or cream-colored heads that feel heavy for their size. The deeply ribbed green leaves that envelop a head of cauliflower should look fresh, not wilted or yellowing or dry.
Keep cauliflower loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh from the market heads will last up to 2 weeks.
You can cut cauliflower into florets and stored them, sealed, in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will last up to a week in a well-regulated refrigerator.
You should eat cooked cauliflower within 2 to 3 days, otherwise it may start to smell.
Step by Step Guide on How to Cut Cauliflowers.
Packed with rich nutrients, cauliflower is one of the commonly used flower-vegetables. Its compact flower heads hold numerous health benefiting phtyo-nutrients such as vitamins, indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane etc., that help prevent overweight, diabetes and offer protection from prostate, ovarian, and cervical cancers.
Mineral Content: It is an also good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium. Manganese is used in the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.
Vitamin & Compounds: Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin-C is a proven antioxidant helps fight against harmful free radicals, boosts immunity and prevents infections and cancers.
It contains good amounts of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3) as well as vitamin K.
Water Content: Cauliflower is 92 percent water by weight.
Carbohydrate Content: 100 g of cauliflower provide just 5g calories.
Cauliflower is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese.
Diabetes: Cauliflower has a low glycemic index and its anti inflammatory properties coupled with dietary fiber help keep blood sugar levels in check in patients suffering from diabetics
Brain health: Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development.
Bone Health: Cauliflower contains Vitamin K, phosphorus and calcium which not only help in transmission of nerve impulses but strengthens your bones and teeth. Magnesium helps the parathyroid gland to produce hormones needed for the bone to function normally.
Blood pressure and Heart health: Sulforaphane in cauliflower has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Scientists believe sulforaphane’s benefits are related to improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression, especially in the easily damaged inner lining of the arteries known as the endothelium.
Detoxification Support: Cauliflower helps your body’s ability to detoxify in multiple ways. The glucosinolates in cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes.
Inflammation: You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy.
Cauliflower contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check, including indole-3-carbinol or I3C, an anti-inflammatory compound that may operate at the genetic level to help prevent the inflammatory responses at its foundational level.
Cancer: Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth. Some researchers believe eliminating cancer stem cells may be key to controlling cancer.
Weight management: Cauliflower is low in calories, at the same time filling, which reduces cravings.
Metabolism: Folates and Vitamin C trigger metabolism and fat burning making it a great addition to any weight loss diet.
Digestive Benefits: Cauliflower is an important source of dietary fiber for digestive health.
Arthritis: Cauliflower contains vital boron that stimulates the absorption of calcium and magnesium necessary for bone development and prevention of osteoporosis and arthritis.
Protects Against Flu: The high content of vitamin C in cauliflower prevents outbreaks of common infections like cold, flu and fever.
Cerebral cysticercosis (commonly known as parasitic infection): Cerebral custicercosis is caused when worms like tapeworm get inside the body and subsequently to the brain. Animals like pig are a definitive host of tapeworm. The larva comes to human body due to the intake of pork. If it is uncooked or not boiled adequately, the larva of the worm gets inside the human intestine, grows and, at times, moves up to the brain. Be it spinach, broccoli/ cauliflower or cabbage, tapeworm can find a hiding place anywhere. Raw food and salads, if taken without washing or boiling, can help tapeworms enter human bodies.
Allergic Response: Cauliflower may prompt (very rare) an allergic response characterized by symptoms such as severe itching, facial and hand swelling and breathing difficulties.
Kidney Stones and Gout: Since purines (naturally occurring substances in plants and animals) can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid leading to gout and formation of kidney stones.
Gas and Bloating: Cauliflower contains non-digestible carbohydrates that cause gas and bloating in the digestive system.
Vitamin K: Cauliflower contains large amounts of vitamin K that helps your blood clot and can interfere with blood thinning medication like Coumadin and decrease its effectiveness.
Here are some simple and delicious cauliflower recipes that you can try.
1) Aloo Gobhi (Potato & Cauliflower): One of the most popular vegans recipes in India and the subcontinent. Try it out and your would not regret.
2) Cauliflower Popcorn (Roasted Cauliflower): This simple caramelization method transforms this much maligned veggie into a knock-your-socks-off side dish or sweet snack that you won’t be able to get enough of!
3) Chilli cauliflower fritters with blue cheese dressing.
4) Easy cauliflower ‘rice’: This ‘rice’ is a great side to get kids eating more vegies. Omit the chillies and serve with a stir-fry or casserole.