Top 5 Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Health Benefits of CauliflowerHailed as this year’s kale, cauliflower is an often overlooked superfood. Low in saturated fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol, cauliflower is an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins.

Not only is cauliflower packed with nutrients, it’s also a popular choice of vegetarians. When cooked properly, cauliflower’s strong flavor is robust enough to stand on its own without other meat or fatty sides, and can even be used as a substitute for starchier, high-carb foods, like mashed potatoes. Check out our post on substituting cauliflower in your favorite mashed potato recipe for examples! Check out some of the other great benefits of this versatile superfood below:

  1. Cancer prevention. Studies link cauliflower to cancer prevention, particularly with respect to bladder, breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancer. In fact, according to an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, high intake of cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower—may be associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.1 How? Cauliflower contains a compound called indole-3-carinol, or I3C, as well as an important phytochemical called sulforaphane. Both of these components stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify and repair damaged DNA that can prevent cells from turning cancerous.2
  2. Antioxidant benefits and detox support. Cauliflower contains antioxidant nutrients, namely vitamin C, manganese and beta-carotene. Eating cauliflower regularly will help protect you from free radical damage and reduce your risk for diseases caused by oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.4
  3. Anti-inflammatory benefits. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K, which regulates our bodies’ inflammatory responses. It also contains an anti-inflammatory compound that can prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses. Since chronic inflammation leads to conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and ulcerative colitis, eating cauliflower can help prevent these conditions and can have a calming effect on inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s.
  4. Defend against diabetes. In recent years, studies have shown that chronic inflammation can induce insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type II diabetes. Thanks to cauliflower’s anti-inflammatory benefits, you can reduce your risk for the disease just by eating this veggie. Also, since it’s a great source of potassium, cauliflower could help regulate glucose metabolism and insulin levels.3
  5. Digestive support. Did you know that there are almost 10 grams of fiber in every 100 calories of cauliflower you consume? Good news for you, because fiber helps clean your digestive system and gets rid of unwanted toxins. Additionally, a substance called glucoraphanin present in cauliflower can help protect the lining of your stomach.

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile veggies out there. Its unique texture and ability to absorb flavor makes it one of the most flexible and useful vegetables on the market, serving as a nutritious main course or a tasty substitute in gluten-free and low-carb dishes. Check out our related resources section below for recipes and tips on how to incorporate cauliflower into some of your favorite dishes!

Related Resources:

References:

1  Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “Prospective Study of Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer” http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/15/1200
2  National Cancer Institute: “Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention” http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet/cruciferous-vegetables
3  Chatterjee R, Yeh HC, Edelman D, Brancati F. Potassium and risk of type 2 diabetes. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab.2011 Sept;6(5):665-72.
Lee JH, Khor TO, Shu L, Su ZY, Fuentes F, Kong AN. Dietary phytochemicals and cancer prevention: Nrf2 signaling, epigenetics, and cell death mechanisms in blocking cancer initiation and progression. Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]

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