One of the most commonly found vegetables, cauliflower, has its scientific name as Brassica oleracea var. botrytis. Being a cruciferous vegetable, it belongs to the Brassica oleracea species of the Brassicaceae family. Found in four different colors like white, orange, purple and green, cauliflower is basically divided into four major groups in accordance with the area in which it is cultivated namely Italian, Northwest European biennial, Northwest European annual and the Indian. The largest producers of cauliflower are U.S.A, China and India. The florets of a cauliflower are the most edible part and are cooked using various methods like roasting, frying, steaming or are eaten raw. Although the leaves and stalks are not frequently used in cooking, they are also eatable and can be used in making broths. There are numerous health benefits of cauliflower which has made it one of the most widely used vegetable in various cuisines.
Why is Cauliflower beneficial or unique?
With the presence of lot of vital nutrients and low fat content, several health benefits of cauliflower can be attained if consumed on regular basis. A cup of raw cauliflower, which is around 107 gms, contains 26.75 calories, 51.57 mg of vitamin C, 16.59 mcg of vitamin K, 60.99 mcg of folate, 47.40 mg of choline, 0.20 mg of vitamin B6, 319.93 mg of potassium, 2.14 g of fiber, 0.17 mg of manganese, 5.35 mcg of molybdenum, 0.71 mg of vitamin B5, 0.02 g of tryptophan, 47.08 mg of phosphorus, 2.05 g of protein, 16.05mg of magnesium, 0.06 mg of vitamin B2, 0.05 mg of vitamin B1, 0.54 mg of vitamin B3 and 0.45 mg of iron.
With the presence of certain phyto-nutrients like sulforaphane, plant sterol such as indole-3-carbinol and soluble lipids like di-indolyl-methane further add to the health benefits of cauliflower.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a highly nutritional vegetable as it is rich in vitamin C, Vitamin K and folate. With a low fat content and high dietary fiber, it becomes beneficial for all.
Benefits against Cancer : Cauliflower consists of phytonutrients like glucosinolates that enhances the detoxification process carried by certain enzymes and controls the whole activity. Detoxification is very important as it allows the cleansing of the body and in turn helps in getting rid of the unwanted and harmful toxins that enter the body through unsystematic lifestyle habits and unhealthy diet. The detoxification process reduces the chances of having cancer considerably. The three major glucosinolates present in cauliflower are glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin and gluconasturtiian that enhance the detoxification process. Being a rich source of vitamin C and manganese, cauliflower provides you with antioxidant phytonutrients like Beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, rutin, quercetin and kaempferol that enable the reduction of prolonged and undesirable oxidative stress which prevents cell destruction, thereby, reducing the growth of almost all cancer types.
Benefits against Inflammation : Being a rich source of vitamin K, cauliflower consists of anti-inflammatory properties. Glucobrassicin, one of the glucosinolates, gets converted to indole-3-carbinol which as an anti-inflammatory compound, starts functioning at a genetic level, thus reducing inflammations at a very initial stage that in turn reduces the chances of cancers and certain heart diseases.
Benefits against Cardiovascular Diseases : It has been seen that inflammation causes heavy damage to the blood vessels which create problems in the cardiovascular system. Glucoraphanin, a type of glucosinolate present in cauliflower gets converted to isothiocyanate sulforaphane that efficiently activates the anti-inflammatory actions, thereby, strengthening the cardiovascular system. Low fat content also helps in reducing risk of heart diseases.
Benefits for Digestion : The health benefits of cauliflower are further enhanced as it consists of high fiber ratio at 12 gms of fiber per 100gms of calories. This high fiber content enables proper digestion. According to various researches it has been noticed that sulforaphane, developed from glucoraphanin, prevents the growth of a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, that is usually found sticking to the stomach walls. Therefore it protects the stomach walls from getting damaged.
Benefits for Metabolism : Various types of vitamin B complexes like vitaminB1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3 vitamin B5 are present along with other vitamins like vitamin K that enable easy metabolism of different fat, proteins and carbohydrates.
Benefits for Immune System : Being a rich source of vitamin C, cauliflower helps in boosting the complete immune system which in turn prepares your body to fight against all deadly diseases.
Benefits for Pregnant Women : Cauliflower is beneficial for pregnant women as presence of high amount of folate or vitamin B9 helps in reducing complications during child births and enables proper development of the fetus.
Benefits for body detoxification : Cauliflower, being rich in sulfur containing nutrients, is excellent for body detoxification. Glucosinolates, which are a kind of phytonutrient present in cauliflower, activate enzymes responsible for body detoxification and regulate the function in their body. By keeping body free of toxins, cauliflower enhances general health and prevents serious diseases such as cancer. Antioxidants present in the vegetable also help in this regard.
Benefits for Weight Loss : As cauliflower has a very low fat content and has high fiber content, it becomes an apt vegetable for controlling the calorie intake. Include this in your diet regime and experience the difference yourself. Since the vegetable is rich in nutritive content, it fulfils you daily requirements of nutrients. Cauliflower helps controlling frequent hunger pangs too. All these factors aid in weight loss.
Other Health Benefits : The anti-inflammatory property of cauliflower is found to be helpful in controlling other diseases like inflammatory bowel, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, type2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, insulin resistance and ulcerative colitis.
Usage, Selection and Storage of Cauliflower
Cauliflowers that have tight and compact florets with no spots are the best ones. A fresh cauliflower is usually creamish white in color and is covered by thick fresh leaves.
Cauliflowers can be easily stored in paper bags or plastic bags and should be placed in a refrigerator. This way they can remain fresh for a week. By keeping the cauliflowers straight with the stem side down prevents the formation of water particles. Cauliflowers can be consumed by using various cooking methods like frying, steaming, roasting. Avoid overcooking to prevent the food value of the nutrients from getting damaged.
When not to Use Cauliflower
Cauliflower should be consumed moderately as excessive consumption of cauliflower can lead to the swelling of thyroid gland, thereby causing insufficient secretion of thyroid hormones. This is caused due to the presence of a plant compound called goitrogens. People with thyroid dysfunctions should reduce cauliflower intake. However, any normal and healthy person will definitely gain from a huge range of health benefits of cauliflower.
With the help of various scientific tests it has been confirmed that the presence of vital phytonutrients and vitamins the health benefits of cauliflower are immense and this vegetable should be included in a daily diet.