Cauliflower, as its name implies, is a flower growing from a plant. In its early stages, it resembles broccoli, which is its closest relative. While broccoli opens outward to sprout bunches of green florets, cauliflower forms a compact head of undeveloped white flower buds. The heavy green leaves that surround the head protect the flower buds from the sunlight. The lack of exposure to sunlight does not allow chlorophyll to develop. Therefore, color is not produced, and the head remains a white color. Cauliflower contains a high amount of vitamin C, folate, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. It is also a cruciferous vegetable being studied for its role in reducing cancer risk.
There are two types of cauliflower on the market today. The creamy white florets are more abundant in the United States but some markets sell a recently developed cauliflower-broccoli hybrid. This type of cauliflower has a green curd and resembles broccoli. The green variety is less dense than the white, cooks more quickly, and has a milder taste.
Because of its beneficial effects on numerous aspects of health, cauliflower can easily be described as a superfood. Ten of its most impressive benefits follow:
1. Fight Cancer
Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth. Some researchers believe eliminating cancer stem cells may be key to controlling cancer.
2. Boost Heart Health
Sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Scientists believe sulforaphane’s benefits are related to improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression, especially in the easily damaged inner lining of the arteries known as the endothelium.
3. It’s Anti-Inflammatory
You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy. However, it’s also possible, and increasingly common, for the inflammatory response to get out of hand.
If your immune system mistakenly triggers an inflammatory response when no threat is present, it can lead to significant inflammation-related damage to the body, a condition linked to cancer and other diseases, depending on which organs the inflammation is impacting.
Cauliflower contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check, including indole-3-carbinol or I3C, an anti-inflammatory compound that may operate at the genetic level to help prevent the inflammatory responses at its foundational level.
4. It’s Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Most Americans are seriously lacking in nutrients their body needs to function. Eating cauliflower regularly is a simple way to get these much-needed nutrients into your body. For instance, one serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.
5. Boost Your Brain Health
Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. Choline intake during pregnancy “super-charged” the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, and improve learning and memory. It may even diminish age-related memory decline and your brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as conferring protection later in life.
Cauliflower will keep for up to five days if stored in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If the head is not purchased wrapped, store it in an open or perforated plastic bag. Keep the head stem-side up to prevent moisture form collecting on it. For the best flavor, cauliflower should be eaten as soon as possible. Precut florets do not keep well, and they are best when eaten within a day of purchase.
Source image: http://aniphyo.com/blog/cauliflower-mash-mushroom-gravy/