Today I thought it appropriate to revisit the botanical division of the cruciferous family. This time however, it isn’t the almighty kale plant that we’ll be discussing, it is another powerhouse of unique nutrients, the cauliflower. Several cultivars exist apart from the typical white variety, including green, orange, purple, and romanesco.
Cauliflower has a somewhat similar nutritional, and phyto-chemistry profile with broccoli and cabbage. Another similarity to broccoli is the tightly clustered florets that begin to form, but stop short of maturing and remain in the bud stage. This is another cool season vegetable like kale, and grows best in the rich fertile soils that supply it with adequate moisture.
The health benefits of cauliflower are many. In keeping with our Super Foods also being low in carbs, 100 grams of cauliflower has only 26 calories. Like tomatoes, there is little in the way of fuel, but a lot in the way of nutrients. In that 100 gram serving there is also two grams of fiber, which is roughly five percent of our RDA.
With every Super Food that has been written about, there is always at least one nutrient that separates itself from the non super foods. Cauliflower is no different in this regard, in that it has many anti-aging, and health promoting qualities. For instance, there are several anti-cancer phyto-chemicals such as sulforaphane, as well as plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol. Indole-3-carbinol appears to function as an anti-estrogen, which has immense value when dieting, as estrogen holds water – something we definitely want to minimize under competition conditions.
Indole-3-carbinol, in combination with the phyto-chemicals like the above mentioned sulforaphane, have an even greater value. They have proven to be beneficial against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers due to their cancer growth inhibition, and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. Holding less water is a great reason to eat cauliflower if you are preparing for a competition, however preventing any and all forms of cancer is something that you all know I am a huge proponent of. Cancer effects us all in some way, and the prevention of this terrible disease is another step towards its cure.
Another lipid soluble compound, Di-indolyl-methane, which is found in abundance in all of the brassica group of vegetables, has been found effective as an immune modulator, an anti-bacterial, and an anti-viral compound through its potentiation of Interferon-Gamma receptors, and their production. DIM has also been found useful in its application for the treatment of the recurring disease respiratory papillomatosis, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus. It is also currently in phase III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.
Moving on to some more common nutrients, 100 grams of cauliflower provides 80 percent of our RDA of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a proven fighter against free radicals, as it is an effective anti-oxidant. It also boosts immunity, prevents infections, and protects against cancer as well.
There are many B-complex vitamins present as well. Folates, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, thiamine, and niacin are all well represented. Vitamin-K is as well. These vitamins are all essential, as the body requires external sources of them as they cannot be manufactured internally like many vitamins can. They are all required for fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
As far as minerals are concerned, manganese, copper, iron, calcium, and potassium are considered to be in good amounts in the cauliflower plant. Manganese is used in the body as a co-factor for the anti-oxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Potassium is and important intra-cellular electrolyte that helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.
All of these nutrients are a great reason to make cauliflower a regular part of your diet. Another great reason is that it’s delicious, especially when it’s oven roasted and drizzled with olive oil. Mmmmm mmmmm!
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