Herbs & Planta: Brassica oleracea (Cauliflower)

Cauliflower (Family Brassicaceae) is scientifically referred to as Brassica oleracea. Its head resembles that of broccoli and it’s only the white fleshy head (Curd) which is usually eaten.

There are many edible Cauliflower types differentiated by the colour of the fleshy head which can be green, purple, light yellow and white. Cauliflower heads can be roasted, grilled, boiled, fried, steamed, pickled or eaten raw. Cauliflower is an extremely healthy vegetable with a significant source of nutrients and unique plant compounds that may reduce the risk of several diseases; including heart disease and cancer.

Cauliflower contains a large quantity of fibre which is known to be important in preventing a number of digestive conditions, including; constipation, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Furthermore, a diet high in fibres like cauliflower is linked with a lower risk of several illnesses, including; heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The high water content of cauliflower in addition to its abundant dietary fibre contents makes it a valuable food to enhance weight loss. In fact, about 92% of its weight is made up of water and consuming lots of water-dense, low-calorie foods is in most cases associated with weight loss.

Cauliflower also contains indoles, which possess anti-obesity effects. The inclusion of cauliflower in one’s diet is beneficial during pregnancy due to the presence of essential folate, which is vital for enhancing the healthy neural development of the baby.

Vitamin C present in cauliflower also enhances iron absorption into the blood which is vital in increasing haemoglobin count in the body. Furthermore, the vitamin C plays an important role in the production of collagen that protects the joints and bones from inflammatory damage. The abundant vitamin K in cauliflower is vital in preventing bone loss. The presence of vitamin C also inhibits various infections and strengthens the body defence mechanisms.

Regular intake of cauliflower is known to reduce the risk of diabetes due to the presence of vitamin C and potassium. The potassium content in cauliflower regulates the glucose metabolism and is also utilised by the pancreas for secreting the insulin hormone that combats high blood sugar in the body.

Cauliflower is a great source of choline; a B vitamin that is essential for brain development and brain health. Choline is an important nutrient that when combined with phosphorus mends cell membranes and thus results in better sleep, cognitive performance, improved muscle coordination and improved memory.

Inflammation is at the heart of nearly all chronic diseases in the world and cauliflower contains many anti-inflammatory nutrients including indole-3-carbinol that keeps inflammation in check. Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetable is extremely important for the body’s detoxification system. The presence of indole-3-carbinol along with sulforaphane helps activate and regulate the function of detoxifying enzymes.

Additionally, the sulforaphane is also beneficial for protecting the skin against damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. The sulforaphane defends one’s body against inflammation, skin cancer, cellular damage and UV-induced erythema (redness of the skin or mucous membranes). These health-promoting nutrients and phytochemicals make incorporating cauliflower into one’s daily diet a uniquely smart strategy to protect against a myriad of disease conditions. (Richard Komakech)

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