Cauliflower is an incredibly nutritious cruciferous vegetable. This group of plants is known for its low-calorie count and high nutrient content including a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the body needs to function optimally. Other vegetables which fit into the cruciferous vegetable category include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collards, and kale. Cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, are unique because they contain sulfur compounds called glucosinolates which, research shows, possess inflammation-reducing and cancer-fighting properties.
Cauliflower is one of the most potent cancer-fighting foods out there. This unique vegetable provides sulfur-containing compounds—glucosinolates—which are shown to have chemopreventative properties. One of the glucosinolates that cauliflower provides is turned into a compound called sulforaphane in the body. There is extensive research behind this special compound sulforaphane for its anti-cancer benefits. Sulforaphane has been shown to block carcinogen activity, halt cancer cell growth, induce cancer cell death, and protect healthy cell DNA. Research has found glucosinolates beneficial in prevention and treatment of prostate, colorectal, lung, stomach, bladder, skin, and breast cancers.
Cauliflower is chock-full of inflammation-reducing antioxidants which fight free radical damage and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Just some of the antioxidants it possesses include beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol. Each and every antioxidant goes to work protecting healthy cells, repairing damaged cells, and shielding cells from free radical damage. Since chronic inflammation is behind so many diseases, including allergies, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and more, it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to keep inflammation down. Vegetables high in antioxidants, like cauliflower, can prevent all types of inflammatory diseases and improve symptoms in people who already have them.
One cup of cauliflower contains 10 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of dietary fiber. Fiber is necessary for many functions in the body, including digestion. People who don’t eat enough fiber may experience constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and other uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Diets rich in vegetables like cauliflower keep things running smoothly so that you don’t have to have gastro issues on your mind.
Improves heart health
Cauliflower contains quite a few nutrients which are necessary to maintain a healthy heart. Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve kidney function. It also prevents damage to the cells that make up the inner lining of the blood vessels. Potassium is another nutrient which positively affects blood pressure. It counters the effects of sodium, which raises blood pressure, and instead lowers it, taking pressure off the heart and preventing coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Aids in detoxification
Those glucosinolates that we mentioned earlier are very beneficial in supporting the body with detoxification. The antioxidants in cauliflower support both nutrient absorption and toxin removal. The glucosinolates in cauliflower trigger Phase 2 enzymes which is the body’s natural way of getting rid of free radicals and other toxins.
Boosts brain health
Cauliflower is among the top nutrient-rich foods which contain choline. Choline is a relatively “new” nutrient— meaning that it’s only been on the list of required nutrients for human consumption since 1998. Choline is vital for brain health. It supports neurotransmitter synthesis (acetylcholine), cell membrane signaling, methylation, and lipid transport. Choline deficiency can lead to memory loss, cognitive decline, learning disabilities, muscle aches, fatigue, nerve damage, and changes in mood.
Supports a healthy pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman needs to consume more nutrients than she would otherwise. This is especially important with regards to DNA-building vitamins, like folate. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are usually instructed by their doctors to take folic acid supplements. This is the synthetic version of vitamin B9 or folate. Folate deficiency during pregnancy raises the risk of severe congenital disabilities known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Cauliflower contains 14 percent of your RDI of folate per cup, making it a great supporting food for a healthy pregnancy.
Aids in weight loss
With only 25 calories per cup, cauliflower is an incredibly low-calorie, low-fat food— perfect for dieters and healthy eaters. It’s also versatile and can be added to all kinds of dishes. Including soups, quiches, burgers, and salads. It can even be used as a base for a gluten-free pizza or made into “cauliflower rice” for a low-calorie, low-carb side dish. Since cauliflower contains fiber, it’ll keep you full and satisfied so that you don’t end up snacking on foods you would rather avoid.
Protects eye health
Research shows that sulforaphane acts as an antioxidant in the eye, protecting retinal pigment epithelial cells against oxidative stress. This is great news for cruciferous vegetable lovers, who will be provided with protection against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.