Food Facts Friday: The Benefits of CauliflowerArticle posted in: Nutrition
A tastefully mild cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is the laid-back brother to broccoli and cousin to cabbage within the brassica plant family, but it has its own highly revered, superfood nutrient profile. Garnering quite a fan following due to the proven benefits of cauliflower —including anti-cancer, anti-aging and immune-boosting effects—among many other things.
Often seen with pale-white florets and a green stem, cauliflower boasts a powerful composition of beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals which are rarely found together in many other foods—making cauliflower a true hero at warding off disease, inhibiting inflammation and reversing oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body. Also containing high amounts of many essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals, cauliflower can help you maintain an overall healthier lifestyle. Read on to learn about some of the other health benefits of cauliflower and why you should consider eating it more often.
Cauliflower is a dense, tough-textured and voluminous veggie which gives you more with less! One cup or about half a head is a serving that, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has just 27 calories and less than one gram of fat. Rich with two grams of both fiber and protein, this serving packs a nutritional punch that will fill you up without offering excess calories, carbs or fat. Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C, K and B. It also contains a high content of many essential minerals such as calcium, phosphate, folate, potassium and selenium.
Read on to discover seven more benefits of cauliflower:
1. Cauliflower helps to prevent many types of cancer.
Many studies are being done to research the large extent of the anti-cancer effects of cruciferous vegetables, the family cauliflower, broccoli and some other varieties fall into. A study published in Nutrition and Cancer explains that “results clearly point toward a positive correlation between cancer prevention of many target organs and consumption of cruciferous vegetables,” meaning it could be helpful at averting a wide variety of cancers in the body. Due to its chemo-preventative and anti-carcinogenic agents, cauliflower can help halt the initiation and spread of different types of cancer cells. Evidence published in an online cancer journal The Breast indicates that consumption of cauliflower and other brassica vegetable species can also help prevent breast cancer.
2. Cauliflower can reduce inflammation to prevent illness and disease.
When inflammation occurs in the body, it can be painful, uncomfortable—and as we now know—cause serious illnesses and disease in humans. Reducing and inhibiting inflammation is an important step to combating the development of several chronic inflammatory diseases. Another one of the amazing benefits of cauliflower is it is rich with an abundance of flavonoids which offer antioxidant effects in the body and help the immune system fight disease. Research published in Food and Function explains that “among the biological properties of flavonoids, anti-inflammatory activity is attracting growing interest in managing chronic inflammatory diseases.” These flavonoids have been widely studied for their aid in preventing heart disease, obesity, neurological disorders, stroke, asthma and more. It’s likely that adding cauliflower to your diet for its powerful antioxidants and flavonoids can offer numerous protective mechanisms to fight disease, control inflammation and prevent the onset of many types of cancer in your body. Cauliflower is also rich in vitamin K, an important nutrient which can help stop inflammation and bone loss so you don’t have to deal with harsh symptoms of pain, fatigue and isolation.
3. Eating cauliflower can improve digestion and aid your weight loss.
Some people say they experience excess bloating from eating cauliflower raw, but research has found that another one of the benefits of cauliflower is it can actually deter discomfort and improve digestion and regularity. A recent study published by Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that healthy adults who consumed a high-brassica diet containing cauliflower had a significant decrease in their amount of harmful gut bacteria. These results mean eating cauliflower won’t cause any effective digestive issues, and in fact, could offer positive effects to promote better regularity and digestive functions. With a rich, water, fiber and protein content, cauliflower will keep you regular and prevent constipation. You’ll also feel fuller for longer and maintain your energy level to help you meet your weight loss goals.
4. Cauliflower can lower blood pressure and improve your heart health.
The amazing nutrient profile of cauliflower offers effects to control cholesterol, lower blood pressure and deter heart disease. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that an increase in cruciferous veggies in the diet led to an overall reduced risk for mortality from cardiovascular diseases—more so than in subjects who just ate regular veggies. The high amounts of vitamin K found in cauliflower make it a great food to increase circulation and blood flow to the heart. Cauliflower can also lower your levels of bad cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease according to Nutrition Data, due to its high content of vitamin C (77 percent of your daily value) and vitamin K (20 percent of your daily value), as well as manganese (eight percent of your daily value). Enjoying cauliflower regularly can improve your heart’s overall health and increase its longevity by preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
5. Consuming cauliflower is helpful for pregnant and post-menopausal women.
Another one of the benefits of cauliflower is it contains high amounts of both folate and choline—two important minerals which help boost the development of a baby’s brain and spinal system while in the womb. Research published in Nutrition and Cancer found that consuming phytoestrogen-containing foods (such as cauliflower or broccoli), offered a balance of hormones in postmenopausal women. Needless to say, this could also help balance mood swings and make menopause easier in many ways! On the other hand, if you’re trying to conceive, cauliflower could potentially help improve fertility due to its high selenium content which helps increase sperm count and decrease the risk of a miscarriage.
6. Cauliflower can prevent obesity and manage your metabolism.
Cauliflower will fill you up as well as promote regularity and improved digestion—all of which will help you maintain your weight and benefit your weight loss goals. One study, in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, found that there is a compound highly present in cauliflower that has proven to play a significant role in reducing the onset of obesity and certain metabolic disorders. Cauliflower also contains selenium which benefits your metabolism and thyroid, according to the journal Front Plant Science. Since your metabolism can often make a large impact on your weight, moods, and sleep patterns, it’s important to enjoy cauliflower often to keep you feeling and looking healthy!
7. Cauliflower can be enjoyed in a variety of interesting ways.
Cauliflower is widely available and consumed for its major health benefits and easy inclusion into many different types of meals and cuisines. Sure, you can eat cut up cauliflower pieces and eat them raw or use them as toppings on your salads. But you can also get really creative and let cauliflower transcend your dish! Because cauliflower is so dense and voluminous, it can be turned into a few things and can even replace some of your favorite carbs. For example, try this Cauliflower Margarita Pizza, Cauliflower Rice Shrimp Fajita Bowl and even Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers! Whether you eat it as a snack or make it the main event of the meal, cauliflower should make its way into your diet often for its many rare and specialized health benefits.