Cauliflower is also in the cruciferous family, which includes cabbage, kale, radish, mustard, red radish, arugula, and broccoli. The word cauliflower means “cabbage flower” in Latin. (eng: cauliflower)
The homeland of cauliflower is Anatolia. It is derived from wild cabbage. It has undergone great changes over thousands of years, and appeared in today’s Turkey and Italy around 600 BC. The largest producers of cauliflower today are America, France, Italy, India and China. Although cauliflower begins its development like broccoli, the broccoli opens to both sides and produces small florets, while cauliflower creates a whole structure from undeveloped buds. Because these buds are surrounded by heavy, green leaves that do not allow sunlight, chlorophyll development is prevented and this structure remains white. However, it is also possible to find cauliflowers in orange, purple or green colors due to selective breeding. It is not known whether these types of cauliflower are healthier than white cauliflower.
Seen as the pale cousin of broccoli, cauliflower is actually one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables of cruciferous vegetables. Although cauliflower is notorious for its bland taste, it can actually be as delicious as it is healthy when prepared correctly.
Everyone agrees that brightly colored fruits and vegetables are the healthiest in terms of nutrient content. Heather Mangieri, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Pittsburgh, emphasizes that cauliflower is an exception. Stating that cauliflower is a versatile and vitamin-filled vegetable despite its white color, Mangieri says that cauliflower contains plenty of vitamin C, folic acid, fiber and vitamin K. In addition, cauliflower contains plenty of self-forming plant chemicals and antioxidant components that play an important role in the prevention of chronic disease.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods Index, cauliflower alone has not been studied for nutritional content. However, diets that include cauliflower are known to prevent cancer.
Cauliflower florets, leaves and roots are also edible. In addition, cauliflower can be cooked, consumed raw or as a soup. Mangieri notes that, like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower takes on a distinctive flavor when cooked due to its high glucosinolate level. The odor can also be reduced in short-term cooking.
Antioxidant property: Vitamins C and K, and manganese are antioxidants that keep the body healthy. According to an article in Pharmacognosy Review, antioxidants are molecules that combine seamlessly with free radicals to prevent a state of oxidative stress. Free radicals cause cell damage and deterioration that can lead to disease. Antioxidants such as vitamins K and C may help prevent conditions such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. A bowl of cooked cauliflower provides 73% of your daily vitamin C needs, 19% of your vitamin K needs and 8% of your manganese needs.
Digestion: Mangieri states that cauliflower is a high fiber source, meeting about 11% of our daily fiber needs. Due to its fiber content, cauliflower helps digestion, allows you to go to the toilet regularly and to have a healthy, voluminous stool. Bulky and soft stools are more easily excreted than hard or watery stools and are beneficial for colorectal health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet high in fiber reduces the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (painful vesicles that form on the large intestine). In addition, in a study published by Johns Hopkins researchers in the journal Cancer Prevention Research in 2009, it is stated that sulforaphane, which is formed from glucosinolates in cauliflower, prevents the growth of the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori or its attachment to the stomach wall too strongly. This keeps your stomach wall healthy.
Pregnancy: Consuming folic acid during pregnancy plays an important role in preventing neural tube damage such as split or open spine in the fetus. According to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, although choline is thought to provide benefits in the same area, research has not yielded conclusive results. A bowl of cooked cauliflower provides 11% of your daily choline needs.
Cancer: Mangiari states that as a result of some studies, glucosinolate reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Glucosinolates produce isothiocyanate when cleaved, according to a review published in Current Drug Metabolism. Isothiocyanates can also provide an anti-cancer effect by causing the destruction of carcinogens in the body. Another review, published in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, investigated the link between cruciferous vegetables and cancer, and found that 64% of case-control studies found an inverse correlation between consumption of one or more cruciferous vegetables and the risk of developing cancer. Sulforaphane is also a component linked to a reduced risk of cancer. Studies published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research and Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry found that sulforaphane inhibited breast and pancreatic cancer stem cells.
Healing of wounds, skin and hair health: Mangieri states that vitamin C plays an important role in wound healing. According to a study published in the British Journal of Community Nursing, the reason why vitamin C is so beneficial during the healing process of wounds is that it contributes to collagen synthesis and development. Collagen is also very important for skin and hair health.
Anti-inflammatory: One cup of cooked cauliflower provides 9% of your daily omega-3 fatty acid needs, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be an important anti-inflammatory component.
Heart health: Sulforaphane is thought to strengthen blood vessels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2015 study published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that the anti-inflammatory effects of sulforaphane protect against hypertension, atherosclerosis, cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.
Strong bones: Over the past 20 years, scientists have discovered that vitamin K plays an important role in bone health. According to a study in the journal Nutrition, vitamin K enhances the effect of the protein osteocalcin, which has an effect on bone mineralization and maintains a healthy calcium balance. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K per day were 30 percent less likely to break their hips than women who consumed less.
Brain health: A large-scale study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that choline intake was linked to verbal and visual memory. According to an article published in the journal Neuroscience Letters, the anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane also contribute significantly to cognitive function, especially after brain injury.
There is no obvious risk of cauliflower consumption. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower can cause gas or bloating. Cabbage and cauliflower interfere with the body’s absorption of iodine, which is essential for the thyroid gland, according to the University of Arizona. For this reason, people with thyroid problems should be careful not to consume more than these two vegetables.
Cauliflower contains substances called purines that occur naturally. Purines can be broken down to form uric acid, and excessive accumulation of uric acid can cause gout or kidney stone formation.
According to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, people taking blood-thinning medications should be mindful of their cauliflower consumption because the vitamin K in cauliflower can impair the drug’s effect.
How can we consume cauliflower?
Although cauliflower is usually consumed steamed or cooked in a pan, this method can cause the vegetable to become doughy and bland. According to Mangieri, cauliflower is tastier when baked, sautéed, or consumed raw.