Do you like cauliflower, or do you eat it because it's good for you? Cauliflower is a very popular vegetable right now, from making pizza bases, rice, muffins, soups, stir-fries and much more. But how good is it for you really?
Cauliflower is a vegetable from the Brassicaceae (cruciferae) family. It is called an annual plant, as it is a vegetable that grows from a seed and dies within a year, however there is a biennial or two year cycle variety also. The head of the cauliflower is called a ‘curd’, possibly as it looks like the curds from cheese or milk. The head is typically the part of the plant that is eaten, however the white stalks can also be eaten. Other brassica vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and collard greens.
There are four major groups of cauliflower: the Italian and Northern European annuals, Northwest European biennial, and Asian. There are many different varieties of cauliflower such as the white (most common colour seen), orange (the colour is from provitamin A, beta-carotene pigment), purple (the colour is from anthocyanin pigment) and broccoflower (a variety that looks both like broccoli and cauliflower combined).
Different coloured cauliflower will have different nutritional properties mainly depending on the active pigment. However all are rich in sulphur containing glucosinolates (hence the smell), and S-methlcysteine sulfoxide, flavonoids, anthocyanins, coumarins, carotenoids, and antioxidant enzymes (1). Cauliflower is a low calorie vegetable, it has some carbohydrates and a very small amount of protein, and no fat. The carbohydrate content is only 4% or 4 g/100 g of food, with half of that being fibre. Cauliflower is very high in vitamin C along with folic acid, tocopherol and provitamin A. Trace minerals include iron, calcium, selenium, copper, manganese and zinc (2).
Cruciferous vegetables,such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are major sources of sulfur-containing compounds (isothiocyanates and dithiolthiones), which help to increase enzyme activity involved in detoxifying carcinogens and other harmful foreign substances (3). Cruciferous vegetables are also rich sources of indoles, which have been shown to block tumor production in animal studies. The fibre content of the cauliflower has been known to bind to and dilute carcinogenic substances and speed their passage through the digestive tract, as well as help control diabetes and high serum cholesterol levels, and may prevent diverticulosis.
There is no specific recommended daily amount of cauliflower or brassicae family to eat daily. However, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggests that healthy adults need to consume at least 400 g/day, or 5 servings per day, of vegetables and fruits. This is the lower end of the range recommended. The AICR estimates that diets high in vegetables and fruits (> 400 g/day), could prevent at least 20% of all cancer incidences (5). The latest report from the World Cancer Research Fund (2018) has the same recommendations of at least 30 g fibre daily,and 400 g fruits and vegetables daily (4, 5) to lower risk of certain cancers.
So, yes cauliflower is a great vegetable and you need to check out our fantastic pizza recipe.
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