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Everything you always wanted to know about cauliflower

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approx. 3 Minutes

Cauliflower doesn't always get a lot of affection. If you're trying to eat the rainbow, this white cruciferous vegetable - a kindred spirit to broccoli and Brussels sprouts - may be overlooked in favor of more colorful options. Don't underestimate cauliflower's nutritional value, though. Although cauliflower is a white food often associated with fewer nutrients, cauliflower is highly nutritious. If you've been bypassing cauliflower on your weekly shopping trip, you might want to give it another look.

Here are all the health benefits of cauliflower and the best ways to incorporate it into a healthy diet.

Nutrition facts for cauliflower

When you want to determine if a food is healthy, you should consider its nutrient density - the ratio of beneficial nutrients to calorie content. Cauliflower ranks high on this parameter. 100g of raw cauliflower has only 22 calories, but it provides fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. In fact, 100g of cauliflower contains about the same amount of vitamin C as a small orange!

Health benefits of cauliflower

Cauliflower not only provides some important nutrients, but it is also a versatile vegetable that can make it easier to cook healthy meals at home. Aside from providing essential nutrients, cauliflower can be used in countless ways when cooking to replace less nutrient-dense ingredients. This can lead to an overall reduction in calories and fat in your daily intake - especially since cauliflower is filling and can increase feelings of fullness. For example, if you replace 200g of cooked white rice (240 calories) with 200g of cauliflower "rice" (44 calories), you'll save just under 200 calories. Cauliflower also provides phytonutrients, naturally occurring compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cauliflower is beneficial to your diet because it specifically contains the flavonoid anthoxanthin, which gives it its white or pale yellow color. And the 2 grams of fiber in each serving of cauliflower can help you get closer to your daily fiber goals. Getting enough fiber in your diet can help with weight loss, and fiber also supports digestive and heart health.

4 Tips for Choosing a Good Cauliflower

Ready to give cauliflower a try? Here are a few simple tips:

  • If you're shopping at a local farmers market, look for cauliflower in the fall when it's in season. (But you can find it in the produce section year-round!)
  • Choose a cauliflower that has a compact head with an even creamy white color and bright green leaves at the base. Skip any heads with brown spots or loose parts.
  • Cauliflower is often packaged in a plastic bag at the supermarket. When you get home, open the bag or place a paper towel inside to avoid trapping moisture, which can cause rot.
  • A whole head of cauliflower can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, while pre-cut florets can stay fresh for 3 to 4 days.

How to include cauliflower in the diet

Because cauliflower is relatively flavorless, it can be used in a variety of dishes and flavored in a number of ways. Cauliflower can be enjoyed raw on a crudite, steamed, boiled, fried, baked or diced.

Here are a few delicious ways to incorporate this vegetable into your diet.

Roasted cauliflower

One of the easiest ways to prepare cauliflower is to roast it in the oven. Chop the cauliflower into florets or cut it into "steaks," then toss it with a little olive oil and add your favorite spice blend.

Cauliflower Rice

If you're trying to cut back on carbs, substitute white or brown rice for cauliflower rice. You can buy cauliflower rice at virtually any major grocery store, in the frozen section or in the refrigerated ready-to-eat section. If you can't find it in the store, you can easily make it yourself by chopping up a head of cauliflower and pulsing it in a food processor or blender.

Cauliflower can substitute for so many other ingredients, so get creative! Add diced cauliflower to ground beef for a healthier burger, or try making your own gluten-free cauliflower pizza crust.

More information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure that the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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