5 Surprising Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Ashley Festa on June 2, 2021
  • Pieces of white, green, orange and purple cauliflower
    The Many Reasons to Eat This 'Flexible' Food
    Like other cruciferous veggies, cauliflower has loads of great health benefits. If you’re trying to replace excess starches in your diet, cauliflower can be a suitable substitute for rice or mashed potatoes. Making that dietary trade not only reduces your calorie intake (just 25 calories per cup!), it also provides a boost of fiber to your diet, which can help you feel full longer. The combination of cutting calories and snacking less may help you lose weight. Here are just a few of cauliflower’s benefits to your health.
  • High angle close up of person holding freshly harvested cauliflower.
    1. Cauliflower may help reduce your risk of cancer.
    Cauliflower is a type of cruciferous vegetable, related to broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, radishes and turnips. These vegetables possess compounds called glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals that have a strong, distinct odor. While some people find the smell unpleasant, don’t neglect eating your veggies anyway—those compounds may help reduce the risk of various types of cancer. Scientists are still researching the potential anticancer properties of cruciferous veggies because, so far, the results of human studies have been mixed.
  • Friends having lunch on dining table
    2. Cauliflower is great for your gut.
    Cauliflower can boost your intestinal health and lower your chance of developing inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, which affects the inner lining of the large intestine and rectum. (Ulcerative colitis is incurable, so doing your best to prevent it by eating a healthy diet is your best bet.) In fact, cauliflower’s anti-inflammatory properties may ward off a host of chronic diseases, as well as cancer.
  • Cauliflower Gluten Free Pizza
    3. Cauliflower is chock-full of vitamins and other nutrients.
    Cauliflower is a great source of fiber—about 8% of your daily fiber needs in just one serving—as well as folate, vitamin C and potassium. In only a cup of chopped cauliflower, you’ll also get other benefits, such as vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Cauliflower also contains about 4% of your protein needs for the day.
  • Woman eating an organic vegetarian cauliflower dish for vegans and drinking green smoothie
    4. Cauliflower may help boost your immune function.
    Cauliflower benefits a healthy immune system by stimulating certain cells in the intestinal tract. The phytonutrients in cruciferous veggies like cauliflower help regulate the mucosal immune response, which also helps prevent autoimmune problems from developing. And all that vitamin C in cauliflower helps support a healthy immune system, which is particularly beneficial during cold and flu season.
  • Multicolored cauliflower sprigs steaming in pot
    5. Cauliflower has antioxidant properties that may protect against disease.
    If you’re looking to increase your antioxidant intake, cauliflower makes a great choice. This veggie contains high levels of carotenoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid (also known as vitamin C), which have been shown to help reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. The antioxidant properties of cauliflower can help protect cells from DNA damage, which may help reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease, among other health problems.
  • Female couple with young son cooking dinner in kitchen
    The biggest health benefit from cauliflower depends on how you prepare it.
    Cauliflower is healthy no matter how you prepare it, but there are methods to increase the benefit. Cauliflower contains the enzyme sulforaphane, which helps the liver detoxify the body. To ensure you get the most sulforaphane, eat cauliflower raw. If you prefer cooked cauliflower, try this trick—cut up the cauliflower and then leave it on the counter for about 40 minutes. By that time, the enzyme will be heat stable, so you can cook it any way you like it. Just avoid boiling or blanching with water when possible—cauliflower loses a lot of its nutrients that way. Another tip—stir-frying cauliflower loses much of its protein content, but microwaving preserves cauliflower’s protein.
5 Surprising Health Benefits of Cauliflower

About The Author

Ashley Festa is a Greenville, S.C.-based freelance writer and editor who has been writing professionally for nearly two decades. In addition to Healthgrades, she also has written for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 16
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