The word cauliflower is derived from two Latin words ‘caulis’, meaning cabbage or stalk, and floris, meaning flower. Cauliflower plant is native to Asia Minor and Mediterranean region. Today, it is grown worldwide and in the United States it grown mostly in California.
There are many different varieties of cauliflower, ranging in color from white to green. The most commonly grown and eaten is the white cauliflower, which has creamy curds and bright green leaves. The green variety is actually the hybrid broccoflower, which has bright lime green curds. Less commonly variety is purple cauliflower, which has a milder taste than white cauliflower. When cooked, its color changes from purple to green.
Among the cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is one of the highly nutritious vegetable that contains many nutrients that can help to prevent a range of diseases from inflammation to cancer.
Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C and manganese, which are both powerful antioxidants. In fact, one cup of raw cauliflower provides nearly 80% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Aside from these antioxidants, it is also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, potassium, and thiamine. Here are some health benefits of cauliflower.
1. Cancer prevention
Cauliflower contains sulforaphane and indoles, which have been researched for their ability to prevent cancer. Studies have shown that a diet high in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower has been been linked to a significant reduction in the risk of cancers, particularly breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. A Canadian study found that eating a half cup of cauliflower per day decreased the risk of prostate cancer by 52 percent.
2. Anti-inflammatory properties
Due to its high vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, cauliflower can help to reduce inflammation such as arthritis, chronic pain, and certain bowel conditions.
3. Enhance liver detoxification
Cauliflower is high in glutathione and sulphur compounds that enhance the liver’s ability to detoxify. The proper functioning of the liver’s detoxification systems is crucial for the prevention of cancer, since phase II detoxification deactivates carcinogens.
4. Cardiovascular benefits
Cauliflower is also a heart healthy vegetable. It contains high levels of folic acid and B6 which help keep homocysteine levels from rising. Elevated Homocysteine levels are associated with heart disease. The high amount of fiber in cauliflower also helps keep cholesterol levels in normal range.
5. Reduce cholesterol levels
6. Boosts immune system
Cauliflower also contains selenium, a substance that works with vitamin C to strengthen the immune system.
7. Aids digestion
Cauliflower is an excellent source of dietary fiber which is essential for optimal digestion. The fiber helps absorb water in the digestive tract. This process leads to the softening of stool, ensuring less straining during bowel movements.
8. Promote a healthy pregnancy
Cauliflower is a good source of folate, a B vitamin that is necessary for the healthy development of the fetus in early pregnancy. Lack of folate in pregnant women can lead to problems such as birth defects and low birth weight.
9. Helps in losing weight
Kale is very low in calories. One cup of cauliflower has only 27 calories and has no fat, making it a great food for losing weight.
When choosing cauliflower, look for large, creamy colored curds without any spots and heavy for its size – this indicates that the vegetable is fresh. Avoid dull colored and spotted flowers, because the real nutritional value is in the fresh vegetable. Cauliflower can be eaten in a variety of ways, including boiled, steamed, and sautéed. But it is most nutritious when eaten steamed and sautéed, because these preserve more nutrients than boiling does.