Cauliflower belongs to the group of cruciferous vegetables, also known as cabbages. It is closely related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage. Cauliflower originates from Asia Minor and cultivation started 600 years B.C. in Turkey. It gained popularity in Europe in the 16th century. China is the greatest producer of Cauliflowers.
Cauliflower is a cool-season crop. It is more difficult to grow than its relatives because it does not tolerate the heat or cold as well. Cauliflowers like at least 6 hours of full sun and the soil needs be very rich in organic matter. There are a few pests and diseases that can destroy the Cauliflower plants such as cabbage root maggots, aphids and black rot.
When the Cauliflower heads are compact, white and firm, it is time to harvest them. Cut the heads off the plant, but leave some of the leaves around the head to keep it protected. Colour of the head depends on the variety. The most common type of Cauliflower is white, but it can be also be green, purple, orange, brown or yellow. The green variety is known as broccoflower because it looks like broccoli. If the heads are too small but have started to open up, they will not improve and should still be harvested and if the Cauliflower has a coarse appearance, it is too mature and should be thrown away.
You can store Cauliflower in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week. For long-term storage, you can freeze or pickle the heads. Prolonged cooking destroys the majority of vitamins and 75% of the health benefits are destroyed after 30 minutes of cooking.
Because of its beneficial effects on numerous aspects of health, cauliflower can be described as a ‘superfood’. Ten of its most impressive benefits are:
1. Fight Cancer
Cauliflower contains sulphoraphane, a sulphur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, slowing tumour growth. Combining cauliflower with curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) may help prevent and treat prostate cancer. It also inhibits the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells.
2. Boost Heart Health
Sulphoraphane in Cauliflower has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function.
You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy. Cauliflower contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check, including indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory compound that may operate at the genetic level to help prevent the inflammatory responses.
4. Vitamins and Minerals
One serving of Cauliflower contains 77% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. It’s also a good source of Vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fibre, 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. It may even diminish age-related memory decline and your brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood.
6. Detoxification Support
Cauliflower helps your body’s ability to detoxify in multiple ways. The glucosinolates in Cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes.
7. Digestive Benefits
Cauliflower is an important source of dietary fibre for digestive health.
8. Antioxidants and Phytonutrients
Cauliflower is packed with Vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, cinnamic acid and much more. If you don’t have an adequate supply of antioxidants you can be at risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage.