Why Is A Cauliflower Good for You?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber S
Medically Reviewed on 7/27/2022

What kind of vegetable is cauliflower?

Cauliflower, a nutrient-rich, gluten-free vegetable, is a great source of fiber, antioxidants, health-boosting phytonutrients, as well as vitamins B and C. Cauliflower is good for you because it improves digestion, lowers cancer risk, reduces the effects of aging, and has other benefits.
Cauliflower, a nutrient-rich, gluten-free vegetable, is a great source of fiber, antioxidants, health-boosting phytonutrients, as well as vitamins B and C. Cauliflower is good for you because it improves digestion, lowers cancer risk, reduces the effects of aging, and has other benefits.

Cauliflower has become a sought-after food among health-conscious eaters. A nutrient-rich, gluten-free vegetable, it's a great source of fiber, antioxidants, health-boosting phytonutrients, as well as vitamins B and C. You can get a lot of health benefits from cauliflower, whether you eat it raw, roasted, steamed, or fully cooked. Thanks to its low-carb, non-starchy nature, you can even use it in the place of rice, pasta, bread, and pizza dough.

You might be surprised to learn that cauliflower is technically an underdeveloped flower bud that, due to its edible nature, is also considered a vegetable. It's a part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Also called Brassica oleracea, this family includes other vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, turnips, and many other less popular varieties. 

Health experts recommend having such cruciferous vegetables daily due to their high nutrient content. These vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins, carotenoids, soluble sugars, and fibers, as well as antioxidants. Moreover, studies show that vegetables like cauliflower are an excellent source of bioactive phytochemicals and phenolic compounds, which are known to lower the risk of several chronic disorders.

While its white variety is most common, you can also find cauliflower in various other colors. The green cauliflower — made by crossing broccoli with a cauliflower — is sweeter and much more fibrous than its white counterpart. You can also find orange cauliflower in the market. It gets its orange color from the beta-carotene pigment, which makes this variety a rich source of vitamin A

Another popular variety is the purple cauliflower. This type of cauliflower contains more anthocyanins — the antioxidant that gives blueberries and eggplant their purple color.

What nutrients does cauliflower contain?

Cauliflowers have a rich nutrient profile. These are the nutrients that you can get by having this healthy vegetable:

 Vitamins and minerals. Almost every vitamin and mineral you need in your diet can be found in some amount in this vegetable. Cauliflower contains high amounts of vitamin C, which are well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Just one cup (124 g) of this cooked vegetable can provide you with 73% of your dietary requirement of vitamin C.

Besides vitamin C, cauliflower also contains vitamin A, E, K, and many B vitamins. Among the minerals, you can get reasonable amounts of sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as trace amounts of copper, manganese, and zinc by eating cauliflower. 

This vegetable also contains choline, a nutrient similar to B vitamins. Though it's needed for making cell membranes and DNA, most people are deficient in it. Moreover, choline is not even found in many foods. This makes it important to have cauliflower, which is one of the best plant-based sources of this nutrient.

Antioxidants. Vegetables like cauliflower contain different types of antioxidants. Among them, the most notable ones are glucosinolates, isothiocyanate, sulforaphane, and carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants. Besides their role in protecting cells from inflammation and free radical damage, most of these are also known for their antitumor properties.

Fiber. Cauliflower is a rich source of fiber, which is important for keeping your gut healthy. By having just one cup of cooked cauliflower, you can meet 10% of your dietary fiber requirement.

Calories. Cauliflower can make a great addition to your low-carb diet. This healthy vegetable is much lower in carbohydrates than other legumes and cereals. For example, one cup of pasta and one cup of rice contain 45 grams of carbohydrates each. However, one cup of cauliflower contains 5 grams of carbs, which is nine times less than the amount in cereals. 

What are the health benefits of cauliflower?

Eating cauliflower regularly can have a significant positive effect on your health. These are some of its main benefits:

Improves digestion. The high fiber content in cauliflower feeds good gut bacteria, which help to improve gut health by aiding digestion. Having foods with high amounts of dietary fiber can help prevent constipation, duodenal ulcer, and other digestive issues. 

Lowers cancer risk. Cauliflower contains various antioxidants like sulforaphane and glucosinolates, known for their anticancer properties. By fighting against tumor cells, these antioxidants help to prevent several forms of cancer.

Reduces the effects of aging. There are various vitamins and antioxidants in cauliflower that can protect your skin cells from oxidative stress and the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays.

Prevents heart diseases. Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and different antioxidants. These anti-inflammatory chemicals avoid plaque buildup in your blood vessels and keep your cholesterol level in check. As a result, you become less prone to have any heart conditions. 

Aids in weight loss. Due to its lower carbohydrate and high fiber content, cauliflower doesn't add much to your calorie intake. But it keeps you feeling full for a long time. As a result, you don't feel the need to overeat.

Improves bone health. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is needed to form collagen in your bones. It also contains a good amount of vitamin K, which plays a big role in maintaining your bone density

Lower the risk of eye disorders. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are a great source of sulforaphane. This antioxidant protects the tissues in your eyes from oxidative stress, which helps to prevent cataracts, blindness, and many other eye problems.


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Is cauliflower better raw or cooked? 

Studies show that boiling cauliflower in water leads to the greatest loss of its nutrients. When cooked with this method, cauliflower loses a good portion of its mineral, protein, and phytochemical content. This loss is much less in steamed cauliflower. Not surprisingly, cauliflower shows the highest antioxidant activity and keeps most of its nutrient content when eaten raw.

There's a chance that you may find raw cauliflower hard to digest or less tasteful. In such a case, it's better to gently sauté it with a little amount of water, lemon juice, or broth. You can even use a good source of fat while sautéeing the vegetable to ensure its nutrients are absorbed well. However, if you want to eat it raw, try dipping the cauliflower pieces in a healthy dip. 

How many times a week should you eat cauliflower?

It's recommended to eat at least 3/4 cup of cauliflower every day. This means you should have almost 5 cups every week. For those who can easily digest this vegetable, it would be good to have 1.5 cups every day, which amounts to about 10 cups of cauliflower in a week.

Are there any side effects to eating cauliflower?

Cauliflower is a healthy vegetable that's safe to eat regularly. However, you should not eat it before discussing with your doctor or nutritionist if you have any of these health conditions:

Thyroid disorder: Cauliflower contains compounds that can interfere with your body's iodine absorption. Having large amounts of it can worsen your condition if you already have iodine deficiency or thyroid problems.  

Digestive problems. Cauliflower contains fiber as well as some specific carbohydrates that can cause bloating and gas buildup. As a result, it can worsen your symptoms if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease. 

Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib): People with this condition are given blood thinners as they're prone to forming blood clots. Since vitamin K helps blood clots form, good sources of it like cauliflower can interfere with the A-Fib medications.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/27/2022

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