Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is well-known probably by all mothers out there as the pallid-looking vegetable that kids have to be force-fed, and it probably has that reputation among kids for that exact same reason. While the vegetable is definitely well-known, it’s been less well studied, and we suspect that shedding some light on how awesome this less-than-comely member of the cruciferous vegetable family will really up its popularity.
Wait, before we go any further – just a word on cruciferous vegetables – these are of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae) and are widely cultivated, with many genera (or species) being raised for food production all over the world. This family of vegetable includes the more popular cabbage, cress, bok choy and broccoli.
So, why should you include this particular cruciferous vegetable in your regular diet?
For starters, there are several dozen studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention, particularly with respect to many of the more common ones: breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, since cauliflower provides crucial nutrients in support of the three body systems that are closely connected with cancer prevention and, by extension, a healthily functioning body. These three systems are (1) the body’s detoxification system, (2) its antioxidant system, and (3) its anti-inflammatory system. In any of these 3 systems, chronic imbalances can easily increase the risk of cancer, and when imbalances occur in all three systems simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly.
Cauliflower for detox
Cauliflower contains sulphur-containing nutrients and phytonutrients called glucosinolates that can help activate detoxification enzymes and regulate their activity to boost Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification activities in our bodies.
Our liver is the organ that shoulders most of the responsibility for detoxifying our body, and it does this in two phases. In the first phase (oxidisation), our liver uses oxygen and enzymes to make toxins more soluble in water hence aiding in their excretion via our kidneys. Phase 2 (conjugation), is equally important because oxidization can sometimes make the toxins the liver is trying to eliminate even more toxic! In conjugation, the resulting oxidized toxins are further combined with sulphur and other amino acids, which are then excreted in bile. As you can see, the detoxification process is completed over two phases – meaning over-activity in phase 1 or under-activity in phase 2 results in a less than optimal level of detoxification. See where we’re going with this?
The nutrients found inherently in cauliflower are hence essential for balancing out the phase 1 and phase 2 activities in our liver, resulting in a much more efficient system and less toxins in our bodies.
Cauliflower for antioxidants
Free radicals are groups of atoms or atoms with an odd number of electrons that are formed when oxygen interacts with other certain molecules. Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start chain reactions, like dominoes. The main dangers come from the damage they can do easily when they react with very important cellular components, like DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function very poorly or die if it occurs. To prevent free radical damage, enter their natural enemy: the antioxidant, which neutralize and remove free radicals from the bloodstream.
The good news is; our bodies naturally produce antioxidants. The bad news is; they don’t produce nearly enough, especially in this day and age where stress and pollution increase the number of free radicals we come into contact with on a daily basis. For maintaining the balance, a continual and external supply of antioxidants is necessary.
Cauliflower provides us with two core conventional antioxidants – vitamin C and manganese. Studies have shown that cauliflower not only has these nutrients in ample supply, but come packed with antioxidant support that extends into the realm of phytonutrients (as we briefly mentioned earlier). Beta-carotene, caffeic acid, beta-cryptoxanthin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, rutin, quercetin and kaempferol are among cauliflower’s key antioxidant phytonutrients. The supporting of broad-spectrum antioxidant helps lower the risk of oxidative stresses in our cells.
By the way, chronic oxidative stress – or the chronic presence of overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules and the resulting cumulative damage to our cells – is a risk factor in the development of most cancer types. Cauliflower provides us with an array of antioxidant nutrients. It helps us avoiding chronic as well as unwanted oxidative stresses. Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Cauliflower for anti-inflammation
Like chronic oxidative stress and a chronically weakened detoxification system, chronic inflammation can significantly increase our risk of cancers and other diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease. While cardiovascular problems are typically not viewed by doctors as having a central inflammatory component, the role of unwanted inflammation in creating problems for our blood vessels and circulatory system has become increasingly fundamental to our understanding of cardiovascular disease.
As a good source of vitamin K, cauliflowers provide us with one of the best hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. This Vitamin K acts as another direct regulator of our inflammatory responses. Moreover, another glucosinolates found in cauliflower. This glucobrassicin can be converted into an indole-3-carbinol or isothiocyanate molecule called ITC. I3C is an anti-inflammatory compound which operates at very genetic level. By doing so, it prevents the initiation of inflammatory responses at a beginning stage. ITC content not only triggers anti-inflammatory activity in our bodies; it may also be able to help prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage, in turn reversing the effects of cardiovascular disease. Health Benefits of Cauliflower