Why is cauliflower good for you
8 Proven Health Benefits of Cauliflower + 3 Recipes
Nutritionists often disagree when it comes to certain products. No sooner has one expert declared a product to be very healthy than the next one shouts that the opposite is the case. But there is one food that pretty much everyone agrees about its health benefits: vegetables! And this also applies to cauliflower. There is probably no one who says cauliflower is unhealthy.
But what makes cauliflower so healthy? Several nutrients in cauliflower are responsible for this. You will find out exactly what these are in this article.
In addition, the following will also be discussed here:
- Which family the cauliflower belongs to and why this family in particular is so healthy.
- Which substances have which positive effect in our body.
- Why cauliflower is so filling.
- How Eating Cauliflower Can Help You Lose Weight
- Which 3 cauliflower recipes are really delicious.
Eat your serving of vegetables every day
As a child you often hear that you have to finish your portion of vegetables at dinner if you want dessert.
In itself, I think that's a pretty good rule, because mostly too few vegetables are eaten.
Ideally, you eat at least 300 grams of vegetables a day. Vegetables should actually form the basis of your diet. People have been eating vegetables since prehistoric times, because even then they literally grew in front of their noses, on trees, bushes or on and in the ground. So you didn't have to try too hard to get it and eat it.
In contrast to hunting, finding vegetables was less time consuming and also less dangerous. You could always feed yourself with it, and that was what it was all about then, at that time.
So this article is dedicated to cauliflower and its health benefits. To be able to explain this exactly, I first have to explain in general why vegetables are so healthy in the first place.
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What makes vegetables so healthy?
That alone is a great story in itself, because vegetables are actually actually Not healthy.
"Then why on earth do I have to eat these stupid vegetables?"
I will explain it to you.
Like everything that lives, vegetables are of course not exactly happy when someone wants to eat them. After all, everyone wants to stay alive, including vegetables. That is why vegetables have equipped themselves with toxins (slightly poisonous substances). In this way it tries to protect itself against predators such as mammals, insects, birds and humans.
So vegetables are actually toxic. However, most vegetables don't contain enough toxins to make us really sick. It's just 'slightly poisonous', and that's exactly what, paradoxically, makes the vegetable so healthy in the end!
The anti-cancer properties of vegetables
That is why there are various studies that show that certain types of vegetables are effective against certain types of cancer. These Anti-cancer effect is much more evident in vegetables than in fruit.
Certain substances in vegetables can prevent and sometimes even reverse DNA damage (source). Mutations (mistakes) in our DNA cause cancer and other age-related diseases.
And vegetables help our bodies to better detect these mutations.
For example, a study with men has shown that they are up to 41% less likely to develop prostate cancer if they eat vegetables three or more times a week, in contrast to men who eat vegetables less than once a week (source) .
Another study showed that women who ate at least 1 kilogram of broccoli per month were 40% less likely to develop breast cancer than women who ate less than 350 grams of broccoli per month (source).
In addition to the fact that vegetables have anti-cancer properties, they are also good at alleviating the signs of antiquity.
The buildup of waste in cells is one of the reasons we age and die. This process takes place all over our body. Over time, so much waste accumulates in our cells that they 'suffocate' and die in it.
- When this takes place in the brain, dementia develops.
- When this happens in the muscle cells, sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) develops
- And when this happens in the eyes, you develop star disease and macular degeneration (death of retinal cells in the eyes)
Vegetables contain numerous substances that prevent waste from building up in the cells. In this way, the likelihood of becoming ill with signs of antiquity is suppressed.
Now you might be wondering which vegetable is most effective at this. The answer is: the vegetables that belong to the cruciferous family and green leafy vegetables with powerful health benefits.
The cruciferous family
This is where the cauliflower comes in. As already mentioned, it is mainly the representatives of the cruciferous family that are very healthy. And you probably guessed it, yes, cauliflower is one of them.
The cruciferous family consists of the following vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
- Chinese cabbage or white cabbage
- Pak choi
Cauliflower, also known as cauliflower in Austria, belongs to the family of the healthiest vegetables. The cruciferous vegetables owe their name to the four petals that cross each other. Just by the way.
Various studies have shown that vegetables, which belong to the cruciferous family, are the healthiest because they are the best protection against cancer (source). The vegetables owe this effect to a number of special substances. You will find out exactly what these are in a moment.
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Benefits of cauliflower
Cauliflower contains many nutrients that are very healthy for the body and that are not found in many other vegetables. And that's exactly why cauliflower is so healthy.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that cauliflower can be added to almost any dish because it has a relatively neutral taste. For that reason alone, you could eat these vegetables every day.
Here are 8 benefits of cauliflower.
Tip # 1: It's packed with nutrients
I've been talking about cauliflower being so rich in healthy nutrients. But what are these in detail?
Cauliflower is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- It contains the following vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin E, folic acid and pantothenic acid.
- Cauliflower contains the following minerals: potassium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
So that's a lot of healthy nutrients and that at just 24 kcal per 100 grams of fresh cauliflower. So if you only ate cauliflower you would have a very good source of vitamins and minerals without getting fat.
Why is that?
Vitamins and minerals do not provide calories, but they are also needed to live. One hundred grams of cauliflower are 92 grams of water, which also contains no calories. Otherwise, 100 grams of cauliflower still contain:
- 3 grams of carbohydrates (of which 2 grams are sugar)
- 2 grams of protein
- 2.2 grams of fiber
So, as you've learned by now, it contains few nutrients that provide calories. And what it contains is all very healthy. The dietary fiber in particular has a very healthy effect on the body. The fact that cauliflower contains almost as many carbohydrates as fiber makes the vegetable even healthier.
But the nutrients mentioned are not all. Cauliflower also contains very healthy antioxidants, which brings me straight to the next point:
Tip # 2: It contains a lot of antioxidants (slightly toxic substances)
As soon as I mention this word in an article, many readers' facial expressions change from happy to ... a little less happy ...
... but that's what makes cauliflower so healthy. That's why I can't ignore this. But I'll try to explain to you in the simplest possible way what antioxidants actually are and what they do.
Free radicals are unhealthy substances that arise during various processes in the body. These free radicals react with healthy cells in the body, damaging them in the process.
This is where the antioxidants come into play. Antioxidants ensure that free radicals in the body are neutralized. They also ensure that our body's own defense system becomes more active. In this way, our cells become even more resistant to much more dangerous toxins such as free radicals, infections or other dangerous pathogens.
Antioxidants ensure that:
- Above all, there is no damage to the DNA by reacting with free radicals.
- And also that our body's own defense system becomes more active, which means that DNA damage can be better recognized.
The best known antioxidants in cauliflower are:
- Mustard oil glycosides
Of course you don't need to remember the names, I won't either. However, it is good to know that the first two in particular inhibit the growth of cancer cells (source) (source).
The last two seem to have an anti-cancer effect and also reduce the likelihood of age-related diseases such as heart and vascular diseases (source, source).
In addition to the antioxidants mentioned above, cauliflower also contains a lot of vitamin C, which also functions as an antioxidant. Vitamin C has a strong anti-inflammatory effect (source).
Tip # 3: It's high in fiber
In tip # 1 I already mentioned that cauliflower contains relatively few calories, but a lot of fiber.
And if there's one macronutrient you can never eat enough of, it's fiber.
Dietary fiber has a beneficial effect on overall health. Cauliflower contains 2.2 grams of fiber per 100 grams, which may not sound like a lot, but you can eat 300 grams of cauliflower quite quickly, which then gives you about 7 grams of fiber. And that is a considerable part of the daily fiber intake of the average German (23 grams).
However, this number may only say something about the amount of fiber that Germans consume each day and not whether cauliflower contains a lot or little fiber.
Fiber comes in two different forms. I will explain these here below:
Soluble and insoluble fiber
- Vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is also known as fermentable fiber. This fiber can be dissolved in water and processed by the good intestinal bacteria in the body. These intestinal bacteria keep the intestinal flora healthy.
- Insoluble (non-fermentable) fiber cannot be processed by our intestinal bacteria. However, this fiber absorbs a lot of water in the small intestine. In this way, the volume of the stool increases, which in turn causes bowel peristalsis (contraction of the bowel) to increase. This also has a positive influence on the body.
Therefore, both forms of fiber should be included in the diet.
If you eat high-fiber vegetables such as cauliflower, the likelihood of developing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes decreases (source, source).
Fiber also ensures a long-lasting feeling of satiety, which means that you don't get hungry again so quickly (source). For this reason, the consumption of fiber also has a positive influence on weight loss, but more on that in a moment.
Tip # 4: Helps you lose weight
If you have paid close attention to the previous tips, I hardly need to explain this tip any more. But for those of you who would prefer to know exactly, I'll explain it here:
- Cauliflower contains only a few calories per 100 grams (24 kcal per 100 grams). You could also say that you can eat a lot of it without gaining weight.
- Cauliflower is high in fiber. Dietary fiber has a positive effect on the intestinal flora. They promote digestion and increase the volume of the digestive pulp. This will make you feel full longer.
- Soluble fiber ensures that blood sugar levels do not rise as quickly and also less high. The fiber delays the absorption of the sugar. So if you eat cauliflower with a high-carbohydrate food such as potatoes, it will delay the absorption of the carbohydrates. The dietary fiber ensures a more stable blood sugar level (source). A stable blood sugar level also means less production of the hormone insulin. This also reduces the likelihood of gaining weight (source).
- One hundred grams of cauliflower are 92% water. You need a lot of moisture to lose weight. But there are only a few people who drink enough water. With cauliflower, you consume a significant amount of water without actually drinking anything.
All of the mentioned properties of cauliflower have a positive effect on weight loss, as research shows (source). So then eat more cauliflower quickly;)
Tip # 5: Cauliflower is healthy for the brain
Cauliflower is rich in the nutrient choline. This substance is important for the development of the brain because it helps repair and supply the cell membranes in the brain.
Cauliflower contains 40 mg of choline per 100 grams. Choline, for example, is also found in large quantities in breast milk so that the baby's brain can develop well.
The body can also produce small amounts of choline, but not enough, so the rest must be ingested through food. There is easily 120 mg of choline in 300 grams of cauliflower. Men and women should consume an average of 400 to 500 mg of choline per day.
With this, cauliflower is sure to be a good start.
Since so many people are deficient in this nutrient, it is certainly advisable to eat cauliflower a little more often.
What is the function of choline in the body?
Choline plays an important role in maintaining our brain. The presence of sufficient choline has a positive effect on a baby's neural and cognitive development during the first three months of pregnancy (source).
Choline is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters. E.g. also in the production of acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is needed for the functioning of the nervous system and for the transport of lipids from the liver (source).
In addition to choline, cauliflower is also rich in vitamin E, which is also an important antioxidant for the brain. A study from 2011 showed that foods high in vitamin E, such as cauliflower, can reduce the long-term risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's (source).
Tip # 6: It's good for your heart and blood vessels
Aside from the brain, cauliflower is also good for the heart and blood vessels.
This is not due to choline, but to sulforaphane.
Heart and vascular diseases are an increasing problem in the western world. The main reason for this is poor eating habits and insufficient exercise for people. Cardiovascular diseases are the number 2 cause of death in Germany.
A healthier diet and exercise regimen would work wonders. And cauliflower is definitely one of these healthier diets. Not necessarily because its nutritional value is so good and it can be used to fight excess weight and thus the risk of cardiovascular diseases (source), but mainly because cauliflower contains a significant amount of the antioxidant sulforaphane. This antioxidant has a positive effect on the heart and blood vessels.
A group of researchers discovered in 2009 that consuming cauliflower can protect the walls of blood vessels (source).
The researchers discovered that a certain protein in the walls of blood vessels is inactive, making them more susceptible to disease. With the help of mice it has been shown that sulforaphane can stimulate this protein and thus protect the arteries.
As mentioned, this type of investigation was only carried out on mice. It is therefore not certain whether this also applies to humans. But it is certainly worth researching further in this direction.
Tip # 7: It lowers the risk of cancer
Unfortunately, there are so many different diseases in the world. The disease that kills us the most is undoubtedly cancer.
Almost everyone knows someone who has fallen victim to this terrible disease. And although genetic predisposition plays a major role in this, a good part is certainly also nutrition-related. Obesity, for example, can certainly increase the risk of cancer (source).
However, there are also many healthy foods that reduce the likelihood of developing cancer. And you probably guessed it, this also applies to our cauliflower.
The antioxidant sulforaphane also plays a role here.
Sulforaphane helps fight cancer in three different ways:
- Sulforaphane slows down the process by which waste materials build up in cells. That way, the body's repair system gets more time to do its job.
- It promotes the death of cancer cells.
- And it suppresses cancer formation by inhibiting the enzymes that promote cancer growth.
The benefits listed above seem to play an important role in the fight against colon and prostate cancer in particular.
A 2007 study showed that a diet rich in broccoli and cauliflower can significantly lower the likelihood of developing prostate cancer (source). In this study, 29,000 men were followed over a period of 4 years. Their eating habits were monitored and they were regularly checked for signs of prostate cancer.
At the end of the investigation, it turned out that the men who ate cauliflower twice a week had one around 52% lower Likelihood of prostate cancer.
Tip # 8: It is a very good substitute for carbohydrates
The last benefit has nothing to do with health, but goes very well with a low-carbohydrate diet.
It has been found that cauliflower is the perfect substitute for certain sources of carbohydrates.
A low-carbohydrate diet is quite difficult to adhere to for many Germans and other Central Europeans. The reason for this is that the average German's diet consists of around 60% carbohydrates. After all, we mostly eat bread for breakfast and dinner, and we mostly eat potatoes or pasta as the main part of lunch.
All of these foods are full of carbohydrates and are difficult to replace. At least that's what most people think. But cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable that is very suitable as a substitute for carbohydrates.
And as you know by now, cauliflower contains very few carbohydrates per 100 grams, making it the ideal low-carb substitute for potatoes, pasta and rice:
- You can grate it and fry it briefly or cook it and use it as a rice substitute.
- You can also finely grind cauliflower and then make a dough out of it, in this way it can be used as a pizza base, for example.
- Cauliflower puree instead of mashed potatoes. Simply add some crème fraiche and cheese to the boiled cauliflower and then mash everything. Then you get a delicious cauliflower puree.
- Combining steamed cauliflower with eggs makes perfect low-carbohydrate tortillas.
In this way, you not only reduce the amount of carbohydrates, but also increase your intake of vegetables, which makes the whole thing even healthier.
And to make it even clearer to you how low-carb cauliflower actually is, here are a few more comparisons:
- 100 grams of cauliflower contains 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 100 grams of white rice contains 78 grams of carbohydrates
- 100 grams of non-whole grain pasta contains 67 grams of carbohydrates
- 100 grams of unpeeled potatoes (cooked) contain 20 grams of carbohydrates
When you see these numbers, the choice is easy to make. Would you like more information about a low-carb diet? Then read the following article: Low Carb Diet: Explanation, Nutrition Plan, 9 Dangers + 7 Recipes
3 recipes with cauliflower
Recipe 1: cauliflower puree with minced meat and beans
Cauliflower puree is the ideal substitute for mashed potatoes. It's much lower in carbohydrates and therefore much healthier, and it's also very easy to prepare. The following dish is for 2 people.
You need this:
- 1 large (600 g) cauliflower
- 300 g ground beef
- 100 g crème fraiche
- 50 g grated cheese
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 250 g lima beans
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil or 10 g of butter
- pepper and salt
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and cook in water for about 15 minutes.
Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan. Cut the garlic into small pieces and sauté them in the butter or oil. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook it until cooked through.
Rinse the lima beans in a colander until they are clean and add them to the saucepan with the meat. Bake them with the other ingredients for 5 minutes, until they are nice and warm.
In the meantime you can drain the cauliflower and let it stand in the colander for a short time so that it can cool down a bit. After a few minutes, the cauliflower can be left in the pot. Add the crème fraiche, the grated cheese and pepper and salt. Then you mash the mixture with the potato masher until a puree is formed.
You can also serve the minced meat and bean mixture separately to the cauliflower puree.
Recipe 2: Cauliflower Salad with Feta
A delicious low-carb cauliflower salad with feta. It is wonderful to eat as lunch or dinner.
You need this:
- 400 g cauliflower
- 150 g feta
- 250 g cannellini beans
- 7.5 g mint
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 red pepper
- 1 teaspoon of sage
Cut the cauliflower and peppers into small pieces and place in a salad bowl. Rinse the beans in a colander until they are completely clean. Then put them in the salad bowl too.
Finely chop the mint leaves and add them as well.
Cut the feta into small cubes and add to the salad. Finally add the olive oil, sage and pepper and season the salad with it.
Recipe 3: casserole with cauliflower
Finally, a wonderful cauliflower casserole. Cauliflower tastes delicious anyway and especially as a casserole from the oven. A very tasty dinner that will keep you full for a long time.
You need this:
- 400 g cauliflower
- 150 g leeks
- 1 zucchini
- 150 g minced beef (lean)
- 100 g goat cheese
- 60 ml coconut milk
- 60 g grated cheese (48+)
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Pinch of black pepper
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and boil in water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 ° C.
Cut the leek into small rings and the zucchini into small cubes. Fry the minced meat in a saucepan and add the leek and zucchini. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Then fry the whole thing for about 5 minutes.
Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over a low flame and let the goat cheese melt in it. This creates a healthy cheese sauce.
In the meantime, grease the baking dish with olive oil or coconut butter and add the cauliflower florets. Then pour the leek mixture over it and finally the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the casserole with grated cheese.
Bake the casserole in the oven for 15 minutes.
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