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The Health Benefits of Cauliflower

author image Nicole Ferring Holovach
Nicole Ferring Holovach is a Maryland-based registered dietitian who has been writing health-related articles since 2007. Her writing has been featured in “Prevention” and “Today’s Dietitian” magazines. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her master’s degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University.
The Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower grows in a garden. Photo Credit YuriyS/iStock/Getty Images

Many popular diets advise against eating anything white. Foods like pasta, rice, white bread, sugar and other white foods are off limits. However, cauliflower is a white food you can feel good about eating. This nonstarchy vegetable is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage and broccoli. High intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of some cancers. They contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, that may help neutralize damaging toxins.


Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds that give cauliflower its pungent smell and flavor. Glucosinolates activate the body's detoxification system. Chewing breaks down glucosinolates into their active form, which triggers the detoxification process. Research suggests that they may play a role in preventing various types of cancers. Cauliflower contains the second highest amount of glucosinolates, after broccoli.


Potassium is an essential dietary mineral. Normal body functions, including regular heart beats and proper body hydration, depend on proper potassium concentrations both inside and outside of cells. The adequate intake (AI) for potassium is 4,700 mg per day for both men and women. Cauliflower is an excellent, low-calorie source of potassium. One cup of chopped raw cauliflower contains 320 mg in only 27 calories. In comparison, a medium banana contains 422 mg in 105 calories.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes skin and brain health. When you think of vitamin C, you might think of oranges or other fruit. But cauliflower has a surprisingly high amount of vitamin C. One cup of raw cauliflower contains 52 mg. In comparison, a medium orange contains 64 mg. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women per day.


Quickly cooking cauliflower reduces the sulfur smell, preserves crispness and color and reduces the loss of nutrients. Steaming or microwaving cauliflower will preserve its vitamin content better than boiling. To preserve whiteness, add 1 tbsp. of milk or lemon juice to the water, and don't cook cauliflower in an aluminum or iron pot. The chemical compounds in cauliflower will react with the aluminum and turn the vegetable yellow.

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