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Food of the month - Cauliflower

February 2015

You don't need to be green to be good!

Mid winter is not a great time for fresh seasonal foods in the UK but thanks to longer growing periods and modern storage lovely fresh cauliflowers can still be found in the shops.

Because they are not a green vegetable, cauliflowers are often overlooked for their health benefits, but benefits there certainly are, and in large quantities too!

A cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and a cousin of superveg broccoli.

A key content of cauliflower is sulforphane which can contribute strongly to our health. It is thought that sulforaphane is involved in improving DNA methylation which is vital in keeping cells functioning normally. This sulphur compound also is involved in killing off cancer stem cells and has been found to greatly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Cauliflower also contains indoles and isothiocyanates which have shown properties that inhibit the development of cancer in several organs, although full human trials are still to be completed here.

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Lentils

Cranberries

Pork


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Another odd sounding property contained in cauliflower is indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory compound.

But away from the long medical terminology, cauliflower also contains a great range of key nutrients for our health. Most people don't realise cauliflower contains a high level of vitamin C - a normal serving can provide over half your daily requirements. It is also a very good source of choline, a B vitamin known to be involved in brain development and health.

Cauliflower is also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin K, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, fibre, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese; a terrific mix for overall health.

Another aspect of this undervalued vegetable is its fibre content. Just one cup of cooked cauliflower contains 3.35g of dietary fibre to help activate your digestive system. It also contains glucoraphin, another strange word for a substance that is thought to have a protective effect on your stomach lining and reduce the chance of bacterium helicobacter pylon - which means it may reduce the risk of stomach ulcers and cancer.

Like so many vegetables, to gain maximum benefit cauliflower is best eaten raw. But its texture and taste does not encourage this; however with careful cooking (light steaming is best) you can preserve most of the nutritional content and also create a really tasty food. Cauliflower is also surprisingly adaptable - it can be mashed and added to mashed potato for an extra healthy shepherds' pie topping, or of course be mixed with a cheese sauce for that traditional cauliflower cheese.

However you use it, thanks to its great nutritional qualities, it is well worth regularly including cauliflower in your menus.

 

 


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