Cauliflower – White is a Color!

You’ve heard it before – that the more colorful a fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.  Then you come to cauliflower, which is very white, yet supplies more than 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, in just a cup of it. 

Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that protect DNA and reduce the risk of cancer.  And its high fiber content can prevent and alleviate many digestive woes.

So, let’s keep that “colorful is healthier” rule in mind as we take a closer look at the cauliflower exception to the rule.

Introduction

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that looks like a white version of its cousin, broccoli. Actually, it also comes in shades of orange, purple, and green, but like broccoli, its tightly bunched florets are connected by a thick core, often with a few leaves surrounding it. In any color, the taste is pretty much the same – mild, slightly sweet, and a little nutty.

Originally  from the Mediterranean region, cauliflower arrived in Europe near the end of the  15th century.  It is an offshoot of a type of wild cabbage that’s also the ancestor of kale, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi

Nutritional Treasure Chest.

In a one cup of raw or cooked cauliflower there are;

  • 25 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 2 grams of sugar
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 30 milligrams of sodium

As for vitamins and nutrients, that same one cup serving delivers recommended daily amounts of the following

  • Vitamin C – 100%
  • Vitamin K – 25%
  • Vitamin B 9 — Folate – 14%
  • Vitamin B6 – 11%
  • Calcium and Iron – 2%
  • Potassium– 6%
  • Magnesium – 3%
  • Plus several other important nutrients in amounts of 10% or slightly less.

Fiber

Cauliflower is quite high in fiber, a very important component in food. It feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut that help to reduce inflammation and promote digestive health. Eating enough fiber is a key factor in preventing digestive conditions like constipation, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Some studies show that a diet high in fiber-rich vegetables like cauliflower is linked with a lower risk of several illnesses, including heart disease                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ,0 cancer and diabetes. It may also play a role in obesity prevention and reversal, due to its ability to promote fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. (See more about dietary fiber here. It’s far preferable to the fiber aids that come in bottles.)

Antioxidants

Antioxidants, including vitamin C mentioned above, protect cells from harmful free radicals and inflammation.  Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is particularly high in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, two groups of antioxidants that have been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells. Carotenoid and flavonoid, two other antioxidants abundant in cauliflower, have anti-cancer effects and may also reduce the risk of several other illnesses, including heart disease. And yet another antioxidant, sulforaphane, has been shown to be effective for suppressing cancer and tumor growth by inhibiting enzymes that are involved in tumor growth.

Some Caution for Some People

People with certain conditions may want to talk to their doctor before eating cauliflower.

Thyroid Issues. This small gland in your neck makes hormones. To do its job, it needs iodine. Eating lots of cauliflower may keep the gland from absorbing iodine. However, it would take a much larger amount of cauliflower than most people would ever eat in one sitting.

Digestion or GI Issues.  High-fiber foods like cauliflower may cause bloating and gas, especially for people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. There are definitely some dietary aids for these conditions, but lots of cauliflower may not be the best starting place for them.

Heart Disease. People who are taking blood thinners or statins for heart disease, are sometimes cautioned to be judicious with or avoid foods high in vitamin K, which may affect the medications.  Again, there can be lots of help from a diet rich in whole foods to prevent or reverse these conditions, but not in combination with current medications to manage them.

We arrive now where we usually do when discussing eating in a healthy, life-giving and supporting way.  That is, eat more vegetables, always. They do the most good when they are raw and thus retain all the nutrients and enzymes with which they were created. If you want them warm, cook them quickly and minimally.

In any case, continue to go for the big colors – red, blue, purple, green – but do not neglect the white one – cauliflower. It is tasty, easy to prepare, and is a good replacement for high-carbohydrate foods, especially the processed ones.

Enjoy!

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