If cauliflower isn’t a sensible dietary alternative, why does it appear to be a mind?

OK, so not essentially the most rational argument I’ve ever made on this weblog, however I’ll get to the scientific proof actual quickly. First, although, I’d like to take a second to have fun cauliflower’s second within the solar.

It used to be thought of as a bland aspect dish, usually overcooked — like broccoli’s awkward mediocre cousin. Now, cauliflower is having fun with a hip makeover as a meat and starch substitute, reworking into cauliflower “wings,” “steaks,” and “rice.”

Notwithstanding its newfound recognition, cauliflower has really been celebrated in some locations for many years. For instance, the town of Saint-Omer in France holds an annual Cauliflower Festival in October highlighting cauliflower and different contemporary produce in an area market that partially floats on the Aa canal (a location presumably named by some medieval advertising and marketing advisor who was like, “Your waterway will be the first one people see in the Yellow Pages!” By the time the villagers thought to ask, “What the heck are the Yellow Pages,” it was too late.).

Cauliflower is profitable new followers who’re discovering its versatility, delicate taste, and “meatiness.” Its admirers additionally usually use it as a “low-carb,” gluten-free substitute for bread and pasta (although 78% of its energy come from carbohydrates). And riced cauliflower and cauliflower pizza crust are provided in each grocery shops and eating places.

But except for its culinary recognition, the health-promoting energy of cruciferous greens like cauliflower is nothing quick of extraordinary. This group of veggies affords all kinds of well being advantages, however is very noteworthy for its anticancer properties. Let’s check out the advantages of consuming cauliflower, in addition to how one can put together it at house.

Cauliflower Origins

cauliflower grows in organic soil in the garden on the vegetable area cauliflower
iStock.com/Luiza Nalimova

Cauliflower comes from the Latin phrases caulis, that means “cabbage,” and flos, that means “flower.” It’s a descendent of the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea, and half of the Brassica or cruciferous household of greens (which incorporates Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage), named for his or her distinctive cross-shaped leaves. Like flowers and cabbages, cauliflower is available in totally different colours, not simply the white varieties we see so usually.

Domestication of cauliflowers occurred comparatively not too long ago. They had been apparently launched into Europe from the Middle East or Cyprus, across the finish of the 15th century.

As for reaching the United States, cauliflower didn’t make its debut till the late 1800s or early 1900s. And it has skyrocketed in use and demand since then. Today, California produces extra cauliflower than some other state, with a lot of it rising within the Salinas Valley, also called the “Salad Bowl of the World.”

Types of Cauliflower

yellow green purple cauliflower

Most cauliflower is white, however it additionally is available in enjoyable colours, like orange, inexperienced, and purple. These varieties will be tougher to discover, although they’re extra widespread at pure and specialty meals shops, farmers markets, or CSAs. But they’re fairly simple to develop from seed if you would like your personal provide. If you plant them alongside the sides of your backyard, you’ll be able to clarify to guests that you simply’re rising “border caulies.” You’re welcome.

White Cauliflower

The white varieties, like Snowball, White Corona, and Early White, stay pale of hue as a result of they’re utterly lined by their leaves as they develop and mature. To assist protect the white coloring, farmers will tie down the most important outer leaves of every cauliflower plant. This protects them from direct daylight, stopping the event of chlorophyll, the pigment that turns so many greens inexperienced.

Green Cauliflower

Green cauliflower, also called broccoflower, is definitely a broccoli-cauliflower hybrid plant. The Romanesco selection reveals a spiral progress sample and grows to an analogous measurement as white cauliflower. However, it finally ends up with a crunchier, nuttier taste. Generally, inexperienced cauliflower is sweeter, milder, and extra fibrous than white cauliflower. Also, gazing its groovy fractal spirals is an effective way to join to the mysteries of the universe with out psychoactive help.

Orange Cauliflower

Orange varieties of cauliflower have extra beta-carotene pigment — the orange nutrient present in carrots, orange bell peppers, and candy potatoes. This is an efficient factor, since orange cauliflower has 25% extra vitamin A than its white counterpart. Its coloration really resulted from a spontaneous genetic mutation (not to be confused with genetic engineering) within the 1970s — in a cauliflower plant rising in a subject north of Toronto. This explicit cauliflower head was ready to retailer sufficient beta-carotene to produce a noticeable orange tint.

Selective breeding has led to the orange cauliflowers we all know and love in the present day. Popular orange cauliflower varieties, like Cheddar, Orange Burst, and Orange Bouquet, are sweeter and creamier than different cauliflower varieties. And its peak rising season is fall, aligning properly with different equally coloured produce on the cabinets round Halloween.

Purple Cauliflower

Lastly, purple cauliflower is available in a spread of stunning hues, from lavender, to violet, to darkish purple. These comprise extra anthocyanins, or antioxidant pigments that give produce like eggplant and blueberries their purple, crimson, and blue coloring. Some fashionable varieties of purple cauliflower are Sicilian Violet, Violet Queen, and Purple Cape. These are candy, delicate, and nutty and can be utilized just about wherever you’d use white cauliflower.

Cauliflower Nutrition

raw cauliflower on the table of the kitchen

Cauliflower is a dietary powerhouse, providing an array of nutritional vitamins and minerals which might be glorious to your well being. There are some slight micronutrient variations between uncooked and cooked cauliflower, which you’ll see beneath.

100 grams of uncooked cauliflower affords: And for comparability, 100 grams of boiled cauliflower affords:
25 energy 23 energy
2 grams protein 2 grams protein
5 grams carbs four grams carbs
2 grams fiber 2 grams fiber
22 mg calcium 22 mg calcium
15 mg magnesium 9 mg magnesium
44 mg phosphorus 32 mg phosphorus
300 mg potassium 142 mg potassium
30 mg sodium 15 mg sodium
57 mcg folate 44 mcg folate

Boiling cauliflower causes it to lose some of its nutritional vitamins and minerals within the cooking water. But steamed cauliflower loses far much less. And whether or not steamed, boiled, or uncooked, cauliflower is wealthy in micronutrients like phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K1, in addition to antioxidants. Like most different plant meals, it additionally comprises small quantities of all 9 important amino acids.

While cauliflower is nice for you regardless of the way you put together it, analysis reveals that you simply’ll get essentially the most antioxidants ― like polyphenols and flavonoid compounds ― from consuming it uncooked. Extracts from cooked cauliflower confirmed decrease antioxidant exercise than raw extracts. Steaming is the following most suitable choice, adopted by boiling.

Cauliflower and the opposite cruciferous veggies comprise an extensively studied set of plant compounds that flip into the highly effective cancer-fighting phytonutrient sulforaphane. Specifically, the isothiocyanate compound glucoraphanin interacts with the enzyme myrosinase and converts into sulforaphane.

To activate sulforaphane, you’ll be able to eat cauliflower uncooked (chewing does the trick); chop it and let it sit for about 40 minutes earlier than cooking; or mix it, after cooking, with a bit of different uncooked cruciferous veggies resembling grated cabbage or dry mustard powder. Also chargeable for the sturdy odor of cruciferous veggies (nature’s method of keeping off pests), sulforaphane is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory, brain-protective, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties.

Cauliflower Health Benefits

fresh cauliflower

Thanks to many of the vitamins and antioxidant compounds it comprises, cauliflower affords a quantity of well being advantages that will persuade you to take pleasure in it regularly (for those who’re not already an enthusiastic cauliflower eater).

1. May provide antimicrobial advantages.

Like all cruciferous veggies, cauliflower is chock full of compounds studied for his or her skill to combat off numerous germs. For occasion, a 2015 petri dish examine discovered that cauliflower byproducts had been ready to sluggish the expansion of, and in some situations even assist kill off, dangerous germs chargeable for foodborne sicknesses, resembling E.coli and Listeria. The simplest pairing was placing cauliflower up towards Salmonella Typhimurium, a typical micro organism in eggs.

2. May provide anticancer advantages.

Cruciferous greens are one of one of the best methods to assist your physique defend itself towards illnesses like most cancers. This is as a result of the Brassica household of veggies is so excessive in disease-fighting vitamins like fiber, nutritional vitamins C, E, Ok, folate, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and a number of other minerals. They additionally comprise sulfur-containing compounds referred to as glucosinolates, which, as we’ve seen, can convert to sulforaphane.

Other glucosinolates are damaged down into compounds referred to as indoles and isothiocyanates. All these compounds have been noticed to assist inhibit most cancers cell progress and unfold in lab and animal research. Researchers suppose it is because they may also help defend cells from DNA injury, provide anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial advantages, kill most cancers cells, inactivate carcinogens, and stop blood vessels from forming in tumors that might in any other case enable them to develop.

While human analysis is nuanced, there’s sturdy cause to consider that consuming cruciferous veggies is a good suggestion to assist hold your cells wholesome.

three. May assist with blood clotting and bone energy.

Cauliflower is excessive in vitamin K1, additionally referred to as phylloquinone, which is called the “coagulation” vitamin. Vitamin K1 helps to kind important blood clots the place wanted. If you don’t get sufficient vitamin K1, you might be extra possible to expertise hemorrhaging, or extreme bleeding, from a wound. Vitamin Ok can be good for serving to to regulate your calcium stability, and research present that it helps construct sturdy enamel and bones.

four. May be useful for the immune system.

You’ll discover a good quantity of vitamin C in cauliflower. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s identified to help a wholesome immune response. And it’s necessary to get sufficient vitamin C from meals like cauliflower as a result of people can’t make it ourselves. One cup of uncooked, chopped cauliflower florets gives you about 52 mg of vitamin C, which is greater than two-thirds of the advisable dietary allowance for adults.

5. May assist defend towards kidney illness.

A 2021 examine examined how sulforaphane in cruciferous veggies like cauliflower may very well assist combat off oxidative injury in kidney illness. Apparently, it does this by activating what’s referred to as the Nrf2 pathway within the physique (no, it has nothing to do with “Nerf” foam footballs). This pathway is chargeable for serving to the physique make its personal antioxidants “in-house” that may then be directed to combat off damaging reactive oxygen species the place wanted.

Concerns & Downsides to Cauliflower

upset woman suffering from stomachache in the office
iStock.com/Svitlana Hulko

Despite all of its advantages, cauliflower could have a number of potential downsides to think about for some folks.

Digestive Discomfort

First, cauliflower could set off gasoline and different digestive complaints for those who’re not used to consuming it. This is essentially as a result of it comprises raffinose, a sort of oligosaccharide that doesn’t digest utterly, and that ferments within the giant gut. For a small quantity of folks, raffinose could cause gasoline, belly bloating and ache, constipation, or diarrhea. It may trigger additional irritation in folks with current gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome or irritable bowel illnesses.

But raffinose and different oligosaccharides aren’t all dangerous. They’re really a sort of prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good intestine micro organism in your digestive tract. If you’re new to cauliflower, you might want to begin off by consuming small portions to enable your intestine microbiome to acclimate.


While very uncommon, some folks could have an allergy to cauliflower. There have been circumstances of anaphylaxis allergic reactions to consuming it. This could also be concurrent with having oral allergy syndrome, the place compounds in cauliflower cross-react with a sort of pollen within the air and trigger a response in some folks. A salicylate allergy will also be problematic when it comes to cauliflower, because it comprises this potential allergen.


Lastly, cauliflower comprises compounds referred to as goitrogens, which might intervene with iodine uptake and thyroid hormone manufacturing. However, so long as you’re getting ample iodine and selenium, that is unlikely to be an issue. If you’re involved about it, you’ll be able to cook dinner cauliflower to assist scale back the quantity of goitrogens it comprises.

But my recommendation, for most individuals, just isn’t to keep away from cauliflower as a result of of goitrogens. Instead, eat cauliflower together with all kinds of different meals as half of a wholesome, balanced weight loss plan. Cauliflower is full of plant compounds, nutritional vitamins, and minerals that provide advantages that, for most individuals, vastly outweigh any potential dangers.

Is Cauliflower Sustainable?

cauliflower with leaves in hands of a woman

Cauliflower affords simple dietary and well being advantages to customers. But what about its environmental impacts?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which checks an array of produce yearly to decide how contaminated they’re, has put cauliflower on the Clean 15 listing. This means it’s among the many varieties of produce least possible to have contamination from agricultural chemical substances like pesticides. And in accordance to the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, half of the cauliflower samples examined in 2012 didn’t present any pesticide residue in any respect.

But that doesn’t imply cauliflower is completely pesticide-free. There are nonetheless a quantity of pesticides used on this crop, some of that are dangerous to necessary pollinators like honeybees. Buying natural isn’t as necessary with cauliflower as it’s with berries, spinach, apples, and different meals which have greater ranges of pesticide contamination, however it’s nonetheless greatest for human and environmental well being.

As for its international warming influence, one 2019 examine out of the United Kingdom discovered that cauliflower was amongst a number of greens with a low influence, primarily based on elements resembling farming practices, storage, packing, and transportation.

But as talked about earlier, the bulk of US-based cauliflower — round 90% — is produced in California. Unfortunately, this space is drought-prone, and rising cauliflower, or any kind of produce for export, basically implies that California is exporting water. Try to purchase locally-grown cauliflower at any time when you’ll be able to; it’s a typical crop accessible at farmers markets, by community-supported agriculture (CSA) applications, and even U-pick farms the place you’ll be able to harvest your personal produce proper from the sphere.

Of course, you’ll be able to at all times develop your personal cauliflower. Plant seeds and begins early within the rising season, and inform your guests that you simply’re giving them a “head start.” You’re welcome (once more)!

Growing Cauliflower

fresh cauliflower in garden patch

If you’re going to develop cauliflower, simply know they could be a bit tough to develop. For reference, cauliflower is taken into account a “half-hardy” biennial that may develop in zones 2-11. This means it might stand up to some frost, however does greatest with a mix of full solar plus constantly cool temperatures within the 60°F vary. In hotter climates, plant cauliflower within the fall for an early spring crop. But in additional excessive temperature zones, you might have considered trying to plant cauliflower indoors within the early spring, or open air within the late summer time, to keep away from peak warmth and chilly.

Also, to get the pinnacle of your cauliflower white, you’ll want to have interaction in a follow often known as blanching. This implies that when the white head — additionally referred to as the curd — is between two and three inches in diameter, you tie the outer leaves collectively over the pinnacle and safe it with one thing (like a rubber band, tape, or twine) to hold the daylight out. For different coloration varieties, like purple and orange, blanching just isn’t obligatory. There are additionally some self-blanching varieties of cauliflower that may take care of this course of themselves.

How to Choose & Store Cauliflower

buying cauliflower at farmers market focus on the cauliflower

For one of the best cauliflower, strive to get it when it’s in season. This is usually throughout the summer time and into the early fall, however cauliflower may additionally nonetheless be going sturdy into the winter in some areas. If you’re within the United States, try this seasonal produce information to discover out when cauliflower is a peak crop to your location.

When you’re selecting cauliflower to take house, there are some things to have in mind. First, contemporary cauliflower ought to have tight, compact curds and vibrant inexperienced, intact leaves. Avoid vegetation which have brown, slimy spots, or free sections, as this means injury and potential rotting, in addition to a shortened lifespan.

Proper storage helps be sure that your cauliflower will keep contemporary for so long as attainable. When you get it house, retailer your cauliflower in a produce bag within the crisper drawer, the place it ought to final for a couple of week earlier than it begins to present brown spots. Before you put together your cauliflower to eat, take away its outer leaves, minimize it into florets, and wash totally.

You may minimize the cauliflower into florets whenever you get it house and retailer these in an hermetic container within the fridge or freezer. If you select the latter, it’s greatest to blanch your florets earlier than freezing to retain essentially the most vitamins. Fresh cauliflower can be scrumptious when pickled or fermented, which additionally preserves it longer.

Cauliflower Products

You’ve in all probability seen the rising selection of cauliflower merchandise accessible outdoors of the produce part. The snack aisle has seen an enormous growth in its cauliflower-based choices, particularly as gluten-free and grain-free options to widespread wheat-based merchandise. You can discover cauliflower crackers and puffs, sandwich thins to use as a bread different, tortillas and veggie chips, pre-made and grain-free pizza dough, frozen cauliflower rice, and cauliflower-based pastas.

While many individuals take pleasure in making an attempt cauliflower-based grain options for the flavour and selection, these merchandise are additionally a welcome choice for many who want to keep away from gluten for medical causes. For occasion, people with Celiac illness can benefit from the versatility of cauliflower merchandise in place of historically gluten-based ones.

But for most individuals, the main advantages from cauliflower will come from having fun with it in its pure, unprocessed kind.

How to Cook & Prepare Cauliflower

cauliflower in metal colander

Cauliflower works properly as an appetizer, a most important entree, or a aspect dish. Its comparatively impartial taste permits a lot of alternatives for experimentation within the kitchen.

As a starter, use cauliflower to make dips, veggie tots, or breaded cauliflower floret “wings.” As a aspect dish, it really works properly cooked and made right into a rice or mash, or just tossed with a sauce or flavorful spices. And as a most important dish, cauliflower lends itself properly to a stir-fry, utilized in pizza crust or as a pizza topping, in pasta dishes and curries, blended into creamy soups, or sliced and made into cauliflower “steaks.”

The greatest cooking technique relies on the way you need to use your cauliflower. You can eat it uncooked, chopped into florets with a dip like hummus, or as a uncooked cauliflower rice base for “grain” salads. You may take pleasure in cauliflower cooked in a quantity of methods, like boiled, stir-fried, air-fried, baked, roasted, steamed, grilled, or microwaved. If you’re wanting to hold most of the water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, intact in your cauliflower, keep away from cooking strategies that use water. Instead, strive baking or roasting it.

Cauliflower Recipes

Wow your occasion visitors or members of the family with an out-of-this-world appetizer that provides a style bud and sensory explosion. Buffalo Cauliflower with Tofu Ranch blends spicy, cool, crispy, and creamy, creating an beautiful and tantalizing expertise. Swap rice for cauliflower within the Cauliflower “Fried” Rice. This dish is filled with a range of veggies in addition to pineapple for a colourful candy and savory aspect. The Cauliflower “Steak” with Peanut Sauce is the kind of steak that leaves you feeling energized and wholesome. Can’t select which to make? Capture all of cauliflower’s versatility by making an attempt all three!

1. Buffalo Cauliflower with Tofu Ranch

Cauliflower turns into the star of the occasion when made right into a enjoyable, finger-food appetizer. Healthy cauliflower tastes like an indulgent splurge, however with its excessive fiber, vitamin C, and phytonutrient content material, it’s something however! Pair the spicy crucifer with cooling Tofu Ranch Dressing for a tastebud and sensory explosion that your visitors will rave about!

2. Cauliflower “Fried” Rice

cauliflower fried rice

With a cruciferous base like cauliflower, plus extra plant goodness from onions, broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, and pineapple, you’ll be able to’t go fallacious with this nourishing and engaging aspect dish. It gives an abundance of fiber and phytonutrients, not to point out heaps of texture and taste. Make it a whole meal by including some natural tofu or edamame and bean sprouts.

three. Cauliflower “Steak” with Peanut Sauce

This “steak” received’t depart you feeling like your physique’s working time beyond regulation to digest it. Instead, it delivers satisfying texture and taste together with vitamins — resembling vitamin C, phytonutrients, and fiber — that your physique wants to operate at its greatest (and vitamins you could’t get from conventional steak!). Add protein-rich peanut sauce and prebiotic-rich toppings, and you’ve got your self a near-perfect meal!

Enjoy Cauliflower

iStock.com/NoSystem photographs

Cauliflower, and cauliflower merchandise, are immensely fashionable for his or her versatility and dietary worth. This cruciferous veggie affords a quantity of well being advantages, particularly from antioxidant compounds like sulforaphane. Although there are a number of small issues when consuming cauliflower, for almost all of folks, the impact in your well being is probably going to be wholly constructive. We advocate together with entire, unprocessed cauliflower as half of a wholesome balanced weight loss plan.

Tell us within the feedback:

  • Do you want to eat cauliflower? What are some of your favourite methods to put together it?
  • Did this text spark any concepts for making an attempt cauliflower in new methods?
  • What different cruciferous veggies do you take pleasure in?

Feature picture: iStock.com/YelenaYemchuk

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