For the last few years, one vegetable has been the star of the produce aisle, outshining all the rest. And while images of kale or even sweet potatoes may come to mind, the owner of this impressive title is actually cauliflower. C’mon you know your famous cauliflower tacos and those yummy cauliflower buffalo wings are a staple in your house, so this can’t be a total surprise.
And now that you’re thinking about it. If you’re realizing you eat way too much of it, that’s not a bad thing. The cruciferous vegetable, long used interchangeably with broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts, is one of the more popular veggies thanks to its low-carb and low-calorie values as well as its immense versatility. It’s hard to name a dish you can’t throw cauliflower into.
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Whether you prefer white, green, purple, or any other of the vegetal varieties you can find out there, cauliflower has proven itself as a compelling alternative to traditional ingredients and is now regularly used to make everything from rice and pizza crust to mac and cheese and Christmas stuffing.
But the vegetable is not only an extremely healthy option for those looking to cut back on carbs and calories. It’s also a great source of plant compounds that are known to reduce the risk of certain diseases, including cancer. Ready to dive into all of cauliflower’s amazing bennies? Below, we break down everything you need to know about cauliflower benefits and nutrition, according to a registered dietitian.
What does cauliflower’s nutrition look like?
“Cauliflower is rich in nutrients, including dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and folate,” explains Gena Hamshaw, a registered dietician and the author of blog. “Plus, cauliflower is relatively low in calories and has a high water content.”
According to the USDA, a medium-sized head of cauliflower contains an estimated 146 calories, 29 grams of carbs, 1.6 grams of fat, 12 grams of fibre, 11 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein, and 176 mg of sodium. Obviously, these values will differ depending on preparation and any ingredients used alongside it, but the vegetable’s nutrition makes it an appealing addition to almost any diet.
What are the benefits of eating cauliflower?
There are many advantages to eating cauliflower, from satiating your body’s need for certain nutrients to the range of ways it can be prepared. Here, we look at nine of the vegetable’s foremost benefits.
1. It’s high in fibre
It’s no secret that fibre is a necessary part of any diet or that it can be a huge help to overall health—and lucky for us, cauliflower is rich with it. With 10 percent of your daily fibre needs fulfilled with just a single cup of cauliflower, the vegetable can lower the risk of various illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. Eating it regularly is also a great way to promote digestive and cardiac health more generally, which is something everyone wants, Hamshaw says.
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2. It’s a good source of choline
“Choline is a nutrient that plays a role in nervous system function and metabolism, and adequate choline intake may aid with memory function as well,” notes Hamshaw. Many people are deficient in the nutrient since relatively few foods contain it, but one cup of cauliflower contains about 11 percent of your daily need.
3. It aids immune health
There’s a reason vitamin C has become such a hot topic in recent years, as the world has prioritised immunity in the face of widespread illness. The antioxidant is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to boost immune function, Hamshaw says, and cauliflower is famously high in it.
4. It’s high in vitamin K
You’re likely less familiar with vitamin K than many of its counterparts, but believe us when we say it’s just as important. The fat-soluble vitamin plays an essential role in bone metabolism, regulating blood calcium levels, and blood clotting, which means that it helps your body heal from any kind of injury. And cauliflower offers roughly 20 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, so your body will thank you for eating it.
5. It can aid weight loss
With only 25 calories in every cup of cauliflower, the vegetable is an obvious choice for anyone looking to lose some weight. In addition to being rich in fibre, which can work to slow your digestion and make you feel fuller longer, it has a very high water content. With 92 percent of its weight made up of water, eating cauliflower can assist with keeping your body hydrated, and when added to a proper diet, weight loss.
6. It can help reduce the risk of cancer
“Cauliflower contains phytonutrients – chemical compounds found in plants – that are associated with protection against chronic diseases, including cancer,” Hamshaw says. The vegetable boasts high contents of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, two groups of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce cancer and especially protect against breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.
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7. It contains some of almost every nutrient you need
It’s rare that a single food can cover nearly every one of your body’s nutritional needs, but cauliflower does just that. Putting aside the more obvious vitamins B, C, and K, the cruciferous vegetable is an excellent source of folate, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and more, all minerals you need to maintain overall health.
8. It’s a good alternative to grains
Whether you follow a low-carb diet and are looking to eliminate more grains or you’re simply hoping to increase your veggie intake, cauliflower can be a big help. With about nine times fewer carbs than rice and a myriad more of vitamins and nutrients, it’s a great alternative to traditional grains. You can find cauliflower-based rice and pasta at many grocery stores these days, or you can try your hand at recipes like cauliflower pizza, cauliflower mash, and cauliflower tortillas.
9. It’s incredibly versatile
“In addition to all of this, cauliflower is versatile, satisfying, and useful in a huge range of recipes, and it’s especially useful in plant-based cooking,” Hamshaw explains. “You can transform cauliflower into steak, dip, or mash. It can be baked, roasted whole, or pureed into pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless!” You can also eat the vegetable raw or simply roasted, steamed, or sautéed, so preparation can be as minimal or as maximal as you’d like.