Cauliflower, is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family with broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. As with broccoli, cauliflower is the immature flower head of the plant, picked while still creamy white and tender. Boiled, sauteed, steamed or stir-fried cauliflower is a nutritious vegetable that provides several essential nutrients including significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and several other vitamins in smaller amounts.
A 1/2-cup measure of cooked cauliflower contains 27.5 milligrams of ascorbic acid, more commonly known as vitamin C. This amount equals almost 50 percent of the daily recommended intake for this vitamin. The University of Maryland Medical Center describes vitamin C as an essential nutrient for the absorption of iron and to maintain and heal tissues within the body, particularly connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, as well as teeth and gums. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce the levels of harmful chemicals within the body that can damage cells within tissues.
Vitamin K is another essential nutrient provided by cauliflower. This vitamin plays a central role in the production of blood clotting factors, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Cauliflower provides 8.5 micrograms of vitamin K per 1/2-cup serving or around 8 percent of the required daily intake for the average adult.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also states that folate works with other B vitamins to help produce healthy red blood cells. Folate is also essential in the development of DNA. The support that folate provides in the production of this genetic material has led to women who are pregnant supplementing their diet with folate to help prevent certain types of congenital birth defects such as spina bifida. A single 1/2-cup serving of cooked cauliflower provides around 27 mcg of folate or around 7 percent of the amount needed per day.
Cauliflower also provides several other important nutrients, although in smaller quantities. These include 0.1 mg of vitamin B6 or approximately 4 percent of the daily requirement and around 0.3 milligrams pantothenic acid or around 3 percent of what is needed each day in a 1/2-cup serving.
The same 1-cup measure of cooked cauliflower also contains trace amounts of certain vitamins. These include thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, according to the USDA Nutrient Database.