There are so many health benefits of cauliflower that this versatile vegetable is a must-have in your vegan diet. Cauliflower’s nutrition profile is really impressive. It’s high in vitamins and minerals and yet low in calories. It is also loaded with fiber and disease-fighting compounds. And it’s so versatile that it can be used in a wide variety of recipes, including soups, salads, tacos, dips, and snacks.
One of my health coaching clients once told me that she wouldn’t eat cauliflower because it looked like brains to her. There was a time when I wouldn’t it either. I found it bland and tasteless, and it smelled a little funny. Now I can’t get enough of this nutritious veggie.
The word "cauliflower" comes from the Italian word cavolfiore, which means "cabbage flower." It’s a member of the Brassica oleracea family, along with broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale. I usually refer to them as cruciferous vegetables, a name that comes from their cross-like leaves.
While all veggies have health benefits, those in the cruciferous family are nutritional superstars. They’re high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, antioxidants and fiber. They're also loaded with phytonutrients, which are known for their anti-cancerous properties. The health benefits of cauliflower – as well as other crucifers – are numerous. Here are just a few of them!
Some of the Many Health Benefits of Cauliflower Include:
- Fiber – A study released in January showed that a high fiber diet is linked to a lower chance of chronic diseases and risk of death. One cup of cauliflower has 3 grams.
- Immune Support – The nutrients in cauliflower are known for reducing inflammation in the body, which in turn keeps the immune system in working order.
- Digestive Health– In addition to being packed with fiber, cauliflower also has a high-water content. The two together can prevent constipation and keep the digestive tract in tip-top shape.
- Cancer Prevention– Cauliflower contains powerful antioxidants that are known to help prevent cellular mutations. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast and reproductive cancers. Sulforaphane may help prevent melanoma as well as esophageal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
- Eye Health – Sulforaphane has also been shown to protect the retinal area of the eye from oxidative stress, which can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and even blindness.
- Bone Health – A cup of cauliflower contains almost 17 mcg of vitamin K, which is crucial for calcium absorption.
- Blood Pressure Regulation – Sulforaphane also been found to significantly improve blood pressure and protect the inner lining of the arteries.
- Heart Health – Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Vitamin K can prevent a buildup of calcium in the blood vessels.
- Brain Health – Cauliflower is a good source of the B vitamin choline. Choline can help with sleep, learning, and memory, as well as brain development.
- Hormone Balance – The combination of fiber and antioxidants in cauliflower can aid in reducing the levels of excess estrogen in the body.
Cooking with Cauliflower
I really can’t think of a more versatile vegetable than cauliflower. It can be simply steamed or roasted and served with a flavorful sauce or tossed into a salad. Sliced and pan-fried, cauliflower can be served as “steaks.” When pulsed in a food processor, cauliflower resembles rice, which can be used in raw dishes or stir-fries. It can also be boiled and blended in a magically creamy sauce. Battered cauliflower can be folded into a taco, stuffed into a sandwich, and even served as a snack.
Some of my Favorite Cauliflower Recipes Include:
Crispy Cauliflower Tacos – These meatless tacos will make a vegetable lover out of just about anyone!
Cauliflower Tabbouleh – This salad is made with raw, riced cauliflower, and it’s super quick and easy to make.
Cauliflower Steaks with Romesco Sauce – Cauliflower steaks are easy to make, and they look super fancy when plated. They’re great for dinner parties and holidays.
Cauliflower Marsala – This is another “steak,” but this one is cooked with mushrooms and a flavorful wine-based marsala sauce.
Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower-Millet Mash Crust – Cauliflower is mashed together with millet to replace potatoes in this veganized version of the comfort food classic.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing – Drenched in a crave-worthy creamy cashew dressing, this Roasted Cauliflower Salad will have you coming back for seconds!
Vegan Queso Dip – Yes, the base of this non-dairy cheese sauce is cauliflower and carrots. No one will know unless you tell them!
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites – Cauliflower replaces the tradtional meat in this veganized classic bar snack.
What's your favorite way to cook cauliflower?