The Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Mark Twain once said that cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education. But what he didn't know was just how valuable this cruciferous family member was in our quest for good health. And if he did, Huckleberry Finn and his friend Jim might have spent their days eating raw cauliflower instead of those greasy catfish fillets.
Just like cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower comes packed with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, all of which are essential in keeping our immune system in tip-top condition. So don't take Mark's comment to heart, instead help yourself to a little bit more cauliflower.
But while you are doing that, I've just finished reading a report that says if you have gout, you should stay away from cauliflower. So should suffer the painful effects of gout right now or have experienced the unpleasant effects of gout in the past, you might want to ask yourself - How did this crystalline condition get into my body in the first place.
It certainly didn't come from eating cauliflower. If you pretty much lead a plant-based lifestyle, you'd have nothing to worry. In this case, the likelihood of you getting gout is zero. I can understand why these reports say that eating cauliflower when you have gout, is not a good idea.
You see, cauliflower contains amino acids called purines, a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound that breaks down uric acid in your body. Too much uric acid can form crystals in your joints, causing inflammation as well as triggering painful bouts of gout. A gout symptom is a form of arthritis that occurs when sharp-edged crystals accumulate in your joints, causing pain and swelling.
Cauliflower is not the guilty party. The real culprit lies with the overconsumption of meat and seafood products because they all contain much higher levels of uric acid as does alcohol and drinks containing fruit sugars. The moral of this story - We should try eating a lot more vegetables and a lot less harmful meat products.
Though cauliflowers' darker cousin, broccoli seems to get a lot more attention as far as its healing powers, cauliflower has plenty of cancer-preventing potential. So much so, cauliflower is one of the most potent healing foods you can buy. There are two potent munitions in the cauliflower cancer-fighting arsenal. One is the phytonutrients sulforaphane, and the other is Indole-3-Carbinol or (I3C). It would help if you made a habit of munching on this cruciferous family member for the simple reason that the compounds that lie within are a lot less likely to cause you any cancer concerns.
Sulforaphane works by stepping up the production of enzymes in your body, which in turn, can help sweep all those nasty toxins right out the door before they have any chance of becoming cancerous. Indole-3-Carbinol works as a tumour sucking compound, which helps reduce the harmful estrogen levels that can foster tumour growth in hormone-sensitive cells like those found in the breasts and prostate gland. Few of us are aware that breast and prostate cancers are two of the most genetic diseases to prevent with a positive attitude, a healthy diet of fresh vegetable, fruit and whole grains.
And what better way than by accommodating more cruciferous vegetables into your eating plan. It's no coincidence that plant food, such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage can greatly assist us with all the tools needed to help protect ourselves from all kinds of cancers. However, cauliflower does more than protect us from the disease. Cauliflower comes packed with vitamin C and folate, two of the essential nutrients known to keep your immune system in peak condition. It takes just three uncooked florets of cauliflower to give you about 70 per cent of the daily value.
By upping your intake of vitamin C, together with other antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E and Beta-Carotene, you'd be well on your way to keeping your system secure. All the while you'd be staving off a whole host of harmful elements such as heart disease, cancer and cataracts. Cauliflower also contains folate.
Folate is essential for healthy tissue growth. It's necessary for the prevention of anaemia, a condition in which red cells are deficient of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in lack of colour and weariness. Folate in cauliflower is essential since folate can help your blood supply work a lot more efficiently. It is also particularly crucial for women of childbearing age, only because it plays an essential role in preventing congenital disabilities of the brain and spinal column. Just three uncooked florets of cauliflower to give you about 70 per cent of the daily folate value.
Did you know that besides white cauliflower you can also get purple cauliflower, orange cauliflower as well as green roman cauliflower? Roman cauliflower is also known as Romanesco broccoli, which is part of the Brassica family of vegetables and has a fascinating appearance. See the photo below.
Purple cauliflower is a cool-season biennial cruciferous vegetable that takes its botanical name from a species of plants known as Brassica oleracea var. The colour purple is due to the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which you'll also find in red cabbage. Orange cauliflower, also known as cheddar cauliflower, but tastes nothing like cheese whatsoever, is a result of a genetic mutation, which allows the vegetable to hold a higher than average level of beta carotene.
Plant breeders have developed several coloured varieties of this vegetable naturally and not by genetic modification. They all have the same firmness, crumbly florets, and texture as their white counterpart, but with some subtle differences in taste. Their flavour is mild, slightly sweet and creamy.
Try to find cauliflower at your grocery store or farmer's market that has a clear complexion and avoid cauliflower if it has brown spots on its ivory, purple or orange florets. Brown spots indicate that the vegetable is past its nutritional peak. Once purchased, keep the cauliflower out of the heat. It will ensure that the cancer-fighting indoles are kept intact.
Another thing to keep in mind is to eat as much raw cauliflower as possible. Boiling is the worst possible way to cook cauliflower. Submerging this crucifer in hot, turbulent water will cause it to lose half of its valuable indoles. Lightly steaming the vegetable or adding it in a stir fry with other veggies is another great way to preserve all the health benefits of cauliflower.
If you don't quite like the taste of the standard cauliflower, be it white, purple, green or orange, why not look out for that nitro-green crucifer in the produce section of your grocery store. It's the one that looks like cauliflower on Saint Patrick's Day. This one is called Romanesco broccoli or broccoflower.
Romanesco looks like a combination of cauliflower and broccoli. This hybrid combines the best of both worlds. It's sweeter, milder and more accessible to chew than either of its parents. The best part, it has more nutrients and L-ascorbic acid. It's also rich in tumour sucking phytonutrients like sulforaphane and indole. A half-cup serving has as much as 125 per cent of the daily value of vitamin C.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for a general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.