Cauliflower: The Cancer-Fighting Crucifer

By Cary Neff, Experience Life

Cauliflower is often relegated to the veggies-and-dip tray, but this nutritional powerhouse deserves a place of honor at every dinner table. Raw or roasted, steamed or sautéed, it can be incorporated into delicious dishes that please the palate while promoting vibrant health.

Food Basics
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with a mild, slightly nutty flavor. White cauliflower is the most readily available in grocery stores, but there are also green, orange and purple varieties. Green cauliflower — a cross between cauliflower and broccoli — is slightly sweeter than white cauliflower when raw and tastes more like broccoli when steamed. The orange variety is also slightly sweeter than white cauliflower, and the purple variety has a milder flavor. Purple cauliflower cooks a little faster than its white cousin and turns green when heated. When purchasing, look for firm cauliflower with compact florets. The leaves should be green and crisp.

Nutritional Know-How
Cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates — both sulfur-containing phytonutrients — that cleanse the body of damaging free radicals. These phytonutrients encourage the body to ramp up its production of enzymes that aid in detoxification and even kill some tumors and cancer cells. Studies have shown that eating three to five servings of cruciferous vegetables each week can significantly lower the risk of several types of cancer. Researchers believe that, when combined with turmeric, cauliflower may help prevent (or stop the spread of) prostate cancer. Orange cauliflower has slightly higher levels of beta-carotene, and purple cauliflower contains the flavonoid anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. A 1-cup serving of boiled cauliflower contains a whopping 91.5 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

Next: How to eat cauliflower

Eat Up!
Cauliflower can be eaten raw, and steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, fried, boiled or roasted. You can cook the cauliflower as a whole head or cut into florets.

  • Cauliflower is uncommonly delicious when roasted. Cut one head into small, even florets. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried red pepper to taste; or toss with olive oil, 1/4-cup soy sauce and a dash of pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking tray and cook at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  • Chop raw cauliflower into different sizes and add it to salads. Add small florets to your favorite bean salad for extra crunch.
  • To add texture to your next stir-fry dish, cut the whole cauliflower into 1/2-inch slices, break into florets and stir-fry according to your favorite recipe. Flat slices of cauliflower cook quickly and have more surface area for the sauce to cling to.

Kitchen Tricks

  • Fix quick, healthy snacks by preparing cauliflower as soon as you bring it home from the store. Clean and cut into florets, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • To clean, remove the leaves and gently scrape off any brown spots with a knife. Place the cauliflower upside down on a cutting board and carefully cut around and remove the core that keeps the florets intact.
  • Avoid cooking cauliflower in aluminum or iron pots. When chemical compounds in cauliflower come in contact with aluminum, the vegetable will yellow. When they come in contact with iron, cauliflower turns brown or blue-green.

Chef Cary Neff is the president of the consulting firm Culinary Innovations and the author of the New York Times bestseller Conscious Cuisine (Sourcebooks, 2002).

Care2 Recipes with Cauliflower:

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potato
Guiltless Mashed Potatoes

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Carole R.
Carole R.8 months ago

Glad to hear this. I love cooked cauliflower.

Angie P.
Angela Padovani8 months ago

Thanks for sharing,

tanzy t.
tanzy t.8 months ago

Glad its agood veggie

Elisa F.
Elisa F.1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for sharing!

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for sharing!

gary c.
Gary C.3 years ago

Great article thankyou...

Loesje v.
Loesje vB5 years ago

Cauliflower, I like it raw or cooked. Yummyyy.....

Michelle R.
Jackie Thompson5 years ago

Call me crazy but I'm 25 and I have NEVER eaten cauliflower before! I've heard of people making "mashed potatoes" using cauliflower. I'll have to try this.Thank you!

Lucy R.
.5 years ago

Everyone knows that eating the right amount of fruit and vegetables each day can reduce the risk of disease, improve overall health, and rid the body of harmful substances.Cauliflower, a flowering vegetable that is often eaten with other vegetables such as carrots and broccoli, offers phytochemicals that the body needs in order to stay healthy.
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