Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis) is a vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family, making it a relative of other popular herbs such as broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprouts.
Cauliflower is a rich source of minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, vitamins, such as B, C, E, and K, and dietary fiber. It also has lower concentrations of sugars compared to other members of its family.
There are different types of cauliflower, in addition to the white one that is the most common, such as purple, with a higher concentration of anthocyanins and therefore antioxidants, or orange, with a higher presence of vitamin A.
You will also get different carbohydrates and calories depending on the way you consume it:
- 100 g of raw cauliflower provides 25 calories and 5 g of carbohydrates.
- 100 g of boiled cauliflower provides 23 calories and 4 g of carbohydrates.
Consuming it regularly you will obtain the necessary nutrients to achieve a balanced and sustainable diet, as well as many health benefits. Let’s review them.
Take care of the heart
Cauliflower has a compound called glucoraphanin, which in turn can be converted into other components called isothiocyanate. According to the available scientific evidence, these act as anti-inflammatories and prevent the accumulation of lipids (fat) in the blood vessels.
This favors proper blood circulation and prevents the risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis. In addition, it seems to help reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol in the blood while stimulating the production of “good”.
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Another goodness related to cardiovascular health that comes from consuming cauliflower is greater control over blood pressure. Although researchers are still analyzing the link behind this relationship, it is believed that it is because certain compounds act by inhibiting the angiotensin converting enzyme, that is, it works in a similar way to anti-hypertensive drugs.
There are also studies that associate the consumption of fruits and vegetables (including cauliflower) with a lower risk of stroke. This is believed to be due to the anti-inflammatory effects of some of its compounds, such as allicin.
Helps control diabetes
It is recommended that people with diabetes consume cauliflower regularly as its glycemic index (GI) is low (15). GI is a measure of how quickly a food can raise blood sugar.
Foods with a GI of 70 or more are considered “high”, if the GI is between 56 and 59 they are “moderate”, while if the GI is between 0 and 55 they are “low”.
Cauliflower is also rich in vitamin C and potassium, which stimulate the regulation of glucose metabolism and are involved in the production of insulin.
Stimulates the immune system
Different trials in humans analyzed the effects of cauliflower on the body’s defenses, and concluded that its regular consumption supplementing a balanced diet is very beneficial:
- Due to its richness in antioxidants, cauliflower strengthens the immune system, blocking the action of free radicals, unstable molecules that affect healthy cell structures and favor the appearance of diseases.
- Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, which allows a correct absorption of iron in the blood, promoting oxygenation and correct function of all cells.
- Indole-3-carbinol is a phytonutrient in cauliflower that helps activate and regulate the function of the body’s detoxifying enzymes, which are responsible for eliminating harmful or unnecessary substances.
Cauliflower is a rich source of dietary fiber, glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, and sulforaphane, compounds that different studies linked to:
- Greater control or weight loss, thanks to the fact that they promote the feeling of satiety and extend the period between meals.
- Prevention against inflammatory disorders.
- Protection of the stomach lining.
- Reduction of abdominal disorders, such as ulcers.
- Stimulation of thermogenesis, a process by which you burn fat, lose weight, and prevent being overweight or obese.
Protects the skin and hair
Certain compounds in cauliflower, such as sulforaphane, are effective in protecting the skin against inflammation induced by UV radiation.
In addition, the compounds in cauliflower play a very important role in the production of collagen, a group of proteins that the body uses to improve the elasticity and resistance of tissues, thus determining the appearance of our skin, hair and nails.
Cauliflower also favors hair growth and shine, since it has silicon and amino acids that contain sulfur, responsible for producing keratin (hair proteins).
Does it have anticancer potential?
As we pointed out, the consumption of cauliflower provides many antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin or gluconasturtiin, among others. These components stimulate the production of enzymes that help protect the body’s cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
According to different in vitro tests, this action would block the proliferation of cancer cells of the uterus and breast. However, more studies and human trials are necessary to corroborate this benefit.
How to consume cauliflower?
First, it is important to choose cauliflowers that show a clean, tight-knit, white center with shiny green leaves. Remember that it should be consumed in the week after being cut since it does not last long.
You can eat cauliflower raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, or baked. It is common to use it as a garnish, to prepare rice, to serve with hummus, as a substitute for meat or to puree.
Cauliflower is considered safe for most people and is linked to many benefits, however, some adverse effects associated with its consumption have been recorded.
Because it contains fiber and complex carbohydrates that are difficult to break down, if consumed in excess it can cause bloating, gas and stomach pain.
It also has purines that form uric acid, favoring in the long run the appearance of kidney stones or conditions such as gout.
In addition, in some people it can cause allergic reactions, so it is advisable to eat it in moderation or try small amounts if it is the first time you consume it.
Until there is significant scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.