Cauliflower has the botanical name Brassica oleracea and is a cruciferous vegetable, which means that its flowers have four petals arranged in a cross. It is of the same family of plants as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collard greens.
Not everyone likes the taste of cauliflower, but many of this vegetable’s health benefits can also be obtained by eating the above alternative crucifers.
Cauliflower is overshadowed by its relative broccoli, but it is actually a more versatile vegetable. It can be eaten raw, added to salads, or cooked. It can even be seasoned and mashed as a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes.
Cauliflower is a source of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus and sodium.
Calcium and is needed for strong bones, while the blood needs the iron to form haemoglobin, while magnesium helps to maintain nerve and muscle function as well as supporting the immune system.
Manganese is needed for connective tissue, bones, and it plays a role in blood sugar regulation. Potassium is needed to build proteins and muscles, to break down carbohydrates, and to control electrical activity of the heart.
Phosphorus is essential for strong bones and teeth as well as working with B vitamins. Indeed, many of the B vitamins are present in cauliflower. Here is the range of vitamins and the recommended dietary value obtained from this vegetable:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 4%
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) 3%
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 13%
- Vitamin B6 10%
- Vitamin B7 (biotin) 5%
- Vitamin B9 (folate) 14%
- Vitamin C 80%
- Vitamin K1 9%
Notice the impressive amount of vitamin C present. Eating cauliflower regularly is clearly a simple way to acquire these essential nutrients.
Other nutrients present in cauliflower are:
- Choline 10%
- Dietary fibre 11%
- Omega-3 fatty acid 9%
Choline is good for a healthy brain. Indeed, sufficient choline intake during pregnancy has been linked to boosting cognitive function and improving learning and memory in children. It could even help to fight against memory decline in later life. So eat plenty of cauliflower.
The ample amount of dietary fibre present in this vegetable make it excellent for the digestive system. On top of that, sulforaphane made from a glucosinolate present in cauliflower helps to protect the stomach from getting ulcers by preventing the growth of the harmful bacteria Helicobacter pylori in the stomach.
Glucosinolates in cauliflower also help to activate and regulate detoxification enzymes. These glucosinolates are glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin, and gluconasturtiin, but in reality the glucosinolate content of cauliflower is not as much as that in crucifers such as Brussels sprouts, Savoy cabbage, broccoli or kale.
Vitamin K in cauliflower behaves as an anti-inflammatory nutrient by helping to regulate inflammatory response. In addition, the glucosinolate glucobrassicin readily converts into indole-3-carbinol, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that operates at the genetic level. It therefore helps to prevent inflammation occurring at early stages.
Indeed, the powerful anti-inflammatory support provided by cauliflower gives cardiovascular benefits. For example, the glucoraphanin in this vegetable can convert into a compound called isothiocyanate sulforaphane. This not only initiates anti-inflammatory activity in the cardiovascular system, it can also help to prevent and perhaps even reverse damage to blood vessels.
The Omega-3 fatty acids present in cauliflower are essential for the heart. They maintain regular heartbeat, reduce plaques on inner arterial walls, help to reduce blood clotting, and increase good cholesterol.
Studies have shown a link between eating cauliflower and cancer prevention. The antioxidants vitamin C and manganese in cauliflower provides protection up to a point. But it is the antioxidants such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol that do most of the work.
This huge antioxidant support helps to reduce the risk of oxidative stress in tissue cells. Long-term oxidative stress creates cell damage and hence causes the development of cancer. By providing us with such a large array of antioxidants, cauliflower obviously pushes down the risk of getting these deadly diseases.
So now you know why eating cauliflower is good for you.