Cauliflower

Cauliflower is often considered one of the healthiest foods on Earth, and there is good reason why.  With its high level of anti-inflammatory compounds, and ability to ward off cancer, heart disease, brain disease and even weight gain, it seems there isn’t much cauliflower is unable to do.

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetables family — also known as the Brassica oleracea family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and some other less common varieties.

Extensive studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of natural antioxidants due to their high levels of various phytochemicals, as well as good suppliers of essential vitamins, carotenoids, fiber, soluble sugars, minerals and phenolic compounds.


Unique Nutrition Profile of Cauliflower

Cauliflower in particular is believed to be so beneficial due to its special combination of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tocopherols and ascorbic acid — all forms of antioxidants currently being extensively researched in order to understand more about how they keep the body healthy.

Due to recent search, vegetables like cauliflower are now highly correlated with preventing chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and various forms of cancers, just to name a few.

Top 8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower and WHY it is one of the Healthiest Foods

  1. Helps Reduce Cancer Risk
  2. Fights Inflammation
  3. Decreases Risk for Heart Disease and Brain Disorders
  4. Provides High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals (Especially Vitamin C and Vitamin K)
  5. Improves Digestion and Detoxification
  6. Aids in Weight Loss
  7. Helps Balance Hormones
  8. Preserves Eye Health

1. Helps Reduce Cancer Risk

Many studies have shown that the risk of developing cancer is associated with your diet.  Studies have demonstrated that cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are helpful in preventing many types of cancer, like colon, liver, lung and stomach cancers.  One reason why they are one of the top cancer fighting foods you can add to your diet.

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It has been shown to behave like chemo preventative agents that can stall the early development of cancer and shut off tumor growth.  Studies have shown that it can halt tumor cells from reproducing.

Numerous studies have shown that consuming vegetables like cauliflower can lead to the prevention of cancer growth. These protective chemicals are known to break down during the chewing and digestion process and help to prevent cancer cells from growing.

This makes cauliflower an excellent way to prevent cancer and also to decrease the chance of cancer returning.

2. Fights Inflammation

Inflammation is at the heart of nearly all chronic diseases that we are faced with so commonly today. Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which lower oxidative stress and the presence of free radicals in our body.

The important range of antioxidants found in cauliflower help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, which when left unregulated can lead to cancer and various other conditions.

Just a one-cup serving of cauliflower contains about 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, helping to reduce inflammation, boost immunity and keep the body free of harmful bacteria, infections and common colds.

3. Decreases Risk for Heart Disease and Brain Disorders

Researchers now know that high levels of inflammation are correlated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  Cauliflower’s anti-inflammatory abilities help keep arteries and blood vessels free from plaque buildup, lessening the chances of high blood pressure and out-of-control cholesterol levels developing.

These serious conditions can lead to further inflammation, allergies, autoimmune responses and even possible cardiac arrest. Cauliflower’s powerful nutrients help stop the immune system from operating on overdrive, creating autoimmune reactions that can lead to oxidative stress capable of damaging brain cells.

4. Provides High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals (Especially Vitamin C and Vitamin K)

In addition to vitamin C and other antioxidants, cauliflower is also a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it is absorbed in the intestines along with fat, so this is one reason why eating cauliflower — along with a source of healthy fat — is important.

Vitamin K is responsible for healthy bones and helps prevent conditions related to loss in bone mineral density like osteoporosis. Additionally, it helps with blood clotting as well as bone calcification. However, perhaps even more importantly, vitamin K has been shown to have direct positive impacts on turning off inflammation in the body.

It’s believed that a poor diet, much like the standard American diet that many people eat today, is one of the key factors playing into a vitamin K deficiency that so many people experience.

Other reasons for vitamin K deficiency include long-term use of antibiotics, digestive and intestinal problems, such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and popular cholesterol-lowering pharmaceutical drugs. Luckily, cauliflower is able to provide a high dose of the much needed essential vitamin, which can help offset problems associated with a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

5. Improves Digestion and Detoxification

Certain compounds found in cauliflower are very useful for helping the body to detox due to how they support liver function.

Cruciferous vegetables are beneficial for digestion and detoxification because of their rich supply of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which support proper nutrient absorption and toxin and waste removal.

Glucosinolates stimulate what are known as phase II enzymes, the body’s natural antioxidant system; therefore they help trigger the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes that block free radical damage.

Glucosinolate can also help protect the vulnerable lining of the stomach, reducing the chances of developing leaky gut syndrome or other digestive disorders. At the same time sulforaphane facilitates detox and digestion by preventing bacterial overgrowth from occurring in the gut microflora, keeping bad bacteria from overwhelming the digestive system and allowing good bacteria to thrive.

6. Aids in Weight Loss

Cauliflower is extremely low in calories (only 25 calories per cup), has virtually zero grams of fat, is a very low-carb food and sugar, and yet is high in volume and filling fiber. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight, since you can consume large amounts of cauliflower and fill up without overconsuming calories, fat, sugar or carbs.

Cauliflower also helps to reduce constipation and keep excess waste or water weight moving out of your body, which helps you to feel immediately better.

7. Helps Balance Hormones

Consuming a diet rich in whole foods and antioxidant-filled vegetables like cauliflower has been shown to help balance hormones partially by reducing unhealthy levels of estrogen.  High-estrogen foods can be harmful to health when they begin destroying the vulnerable hormonal balance that many people struggle to maintain.

A poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle make hormonal imbalances very common; processed foods like soy, meat, dairy, yeast and refined can all lead to an unhealthy level of estrogen in the body. Too much estrogen in the bloodstream is associated with health issues like hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue and ovarian cancer.

8. Preserves Eye Health

The sulforaphane found in cauliflower has been shown to protect the vulnerable tissues of the retinal area from oxidative stress that can result in blindness, cataracts, macular degeneration and more.

The Best Ways to Cook Cauliflower

There are many ways to cook cauliflower, some deteriorate the nutritional values and others do not. Water boiling and blanching have the biggest impact on reducing it’s nutrients. But cauliflower keeps it’s nutrients when gently stir fried.

The very best method for cooking cauliflower seems to be gently sautéing it on the stove top, with a bit of water, broth, lemon juice or a healthy source of fat, which can make its nutrients more absorbable. Of course, eating it raw, perhaps dipped in some healthy hummus or another type of dip, also preserves its nutrients.


Purchasing Fresh Cauliflower

When it comes to purchasing cauliflower, look for cauliflower that is tightly packed with its pieces pressed firmly together and not splaying open. It’s best to use cauliflower within three to seven days after purchasing if possible in order to ensure its nutrients are all still intact.

Uncooked cauliflower lasts in your refrigerator longer than cooked cauliflower (about one week), so store it uncooked in a dry container or plastic bag if possible, along with a paper towel to absorb moisture and keep it from molding.

So now you know why Cauliflower is one of the healthiest foods you can incorporate into your diet. Check out some of our recipes to add this amazing vegetable into your diet.  Try our Cauliflower Fried Rice tonight.

Precautions

1. Thyroid Function

According to the research, it takes large amount of cruciferous vegetables to cause hypothyroidism, and it appears that this risk only exists for those who already have an iodine deficiency.

One study in humans found that the consumption of five ounces a day of cooked cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, specifically) for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function. If you have a known thyroid problem, its best to consume cruciferous vegetables that have been cooked and keep them to about one to two servings daily.

2. Digestive Problems, Including Gas

Some people have a difficult time digesting raw vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Cooking these vegetables usually helps relieve the problem. The problem is thought to occur due to the carbohydrates found in these vegetables (which all vegetables actually contain to some degree) that do not get broken down entirely in the digestive tract, combined with the high amount of fiber and sulfur.

 3. Can Enhance Symptoms in Those with Existing Kidney Stones or Gout

Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds called purines, which can sometimes break down to form uric acid in the urine. If you have a pre-existing condition like kidney stones and gout, you will want to speak with your doctor before consuming large amounts of cauliflower, although in small doses the risk if not thought to be  anything to worry about.