Cauliflower, the Brain Booster!
The benefits of cauliflower are often forgotten about among the amazing diversity of more brightly colored vegetables that are valued for their potent nutrition. Just because the color of our common variety of cauliflower isn’t a show stopper like it’s vibrantly green cousin broccoli, don’t underestimate it’s power!
Cauliflower is a wonderful source of many phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients including vitamin K, B6, folate, choline, manganese, biotin, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C. One cup of cauliflower contains 77 percent of your daily vitamin C needs! That’s one hearty immune boost.
The cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts and others. This veggie family is becoming well known for helping to decrease one’s risk for cancer. They are rich in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates which stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes that help to block free radicals and prevent cancer cell growth [I].
These glucosinolates are also potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Cauliflower is also rich in other antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin c, quercetin, rutin, caffic acid and cryptoxanthin. These all help to reduce oxidative stress when those free radicals show up, ultimately reducing an overactive inflammatory response that can provoke diseases like cancer.
You can’t help but wonder that if a vegetable looks like a brain, could it be healthy for the brain? It sure is! Cauliflower is a great source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. it has been shown to boost cognitive function, and improve learning and memory. It may even diminish age-related memory decline!
Similarly to the other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is high in fiber which can help to prevent constipation, increase the excretion of toxins in the body and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Cooking Tips and Tricks
Cauliflower is a super versatile vegetable because of it’s unassuming flavor. It can be eaten raw with dips, cooked in stews, served as a side dish and so much more. If you are someone who is watching your weight, cauliflower is also an incredible replacement for rice and even mashed potatoes!
For “faux rice” simply chop up the cauliflower in large florets, toss into a food processor until the pieces appear rice sized, and then steam over the stove. So easy! For mashed potatoes, I like to steam the raw florets first, then purée in the food processor along with some coconut milk, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whenever I whip this up for guests, it’s always a hit!
One of my other favorite ways to eat this veggie is as a tasty side dish with fish or meat. Check out the Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onion recipe. It’s amazing what a little olive oil and garlic can do to a vegetable!
[I] “Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention”. The National Cancer Institute. 2012. Web. June. 2016. <http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet>.