Cauliflower is a healthy vegetable full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is similar to broccoli but decidedly more versatile because it can be made into rice and flour—a great alternative for those on a celiac or keto diet.

This article explains cauliflower’s nutrition facts, what happens when you eat it, and the best preparation methods.

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Cauliflower Nutrition Facts: 1 Cup

One cup of raw, chopped cauliflower has the following nutrients:

  • Protein: 2.05 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 5.32 g
  • Fiber: 2.14 g
  • Calcium: 23.5 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 16 mg
  • Phosphorus: 47.1 mg
  • Potassium: 320 mg
  • Sodium: 32.1 mg
  • Vitamin C: 51.6 mg
  • Folate: 61 micrograms (mcg)
  • Choline: 47.4 mg
  • Vitamin K: 16.6 mcg

Cauliflower is considered a superfood because of its high levels of nutrients. It is also a low-calorie food at only 25 calories in 1 cup.

Minerals, Vitamins, and Compounds in Cauliflower

Cauliflower is an excellent source of many vitamins, minerals, and compounds. It’s naturally gluten-free, making it a good choice in all its forms for people who can not eat gluten.

Cauliflower Is a Keto-Friendly Vegetable

People on low-carb diets often turn to cauliflower because it is low in carbohydrates but high in nutrients. Those on a gluten-free diet will be pleased to discover cauliflower rice and cauliflower flour as gluten-free and low-carb alternatives to wheat and other grains.

Fiber

Adults require 28–34 grams of fiber daily. Incorporating vegetables and other fiber-containing foods is a well-rounded way to ensure you get enough of this vital nutrient.

Dietary fiber improves digestive health, and it reduces the risk of:

Only about 5% of people meet recommended daily intakes, so eating cauliflower could be a way to reach your goal.

Antioxidants

Vegetables in the brassica family, like cauliflower, are excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential because they protect your body from free radical damage, which occurs from exposure to compounds that cause cell damage.

Researchers have found that the inedible parts of cauliflower, such as the leaves, actually have the highest amounts of antioxidants, leading them to suggest these may be useful for developing new food-related products.

Choline

Choline is a compound that helps your body with metabolism. When it comes to vegetables, cauliflower is one of the best sources of choline.

Choline is good for the following:

  • Memory
  • Mood
  • Muscle control
  • Brain and nervous system functions

Recommended intakes for adults are 425–550 mg per day. It may seem like a lot, but many food sources are high in choline. For example, just one hard-boiled egg has 147 mg.

Vitamins C and K

Cauliflower is naturally high in vitamins C and K. Adults should get 75–90 mg of vitamin C and 90–120 mcg of vitamin K daily. Cauliflower packs a punch at 51 mg of vitamin C and 16 mcg of vitamin K.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is not stored in your body, and you need to get enough through food every day. This nutrient is good for the skin, especially wound healing, and plays a role in boosting the immune system.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means your body can store it. Vitamin K is essential for blood-clotting and bone metabolism.

Minerals

Cauliflower contains many minerals, including:

  • Calcium: Vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale, are an excellent source of calcium. At 23 g of calcium per cup, cauliflower packs the same punch as one-half cup of fresh kale.
  • Magnesium helps with muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. At 16 mg per cup, it’s comparable to broccoli. Adults need 310-420 mg per day.
  • Phosphorus is present in bones, teeth, DNA, and RNA. Adults require 700-1,250 mg daily. Cauliflower is one of the best vegetable sources of this essential mineral.
  • Potassium is necessary for normal cell function, fluid, and plasma volumes. Most people probably think of bananas when they think of potassium because it’s very high in the mineral. A medium banana has 422 mg of potassium, while 1 cup of cauliflower has 320 mg.

What Happens When You Eat Cauliflower?

Research has found that eating cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, may prevent cancer through the following:

  • Protecting cells against DNA damage
  • Inactivating carcinogenic substances
  • Showing antiviral and antibacterial effects
  • Triggering cell death in disrupted cells
  • Inhibiting tumor cell migration

While cauliflower benefits most people, some may experience side effects from eating too much of this vegetable. Cauliflower is known to cause gas, so if you experience gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may want to eat cauliflower in small amounts to see if it bothers you.

If you take blood thinners, like Jantoven (warfarin), there is conflicting evidence that dietary vitamin K intake could interfere with the medication. However, researchers say there is insufficient evidence to recommend modifying one’s diet since intake would need to be excessively high. To be safe, though, discuss this with a healthcare provider.

Excessive amounts of brassica vegetables, including cauliflower, may interfere with iodine uptake to the thyroid. Researchers believe this would only be an issue for people with iodine deficiency who eat large quantities of these vegetables.

Comparing Cauliflower Preparation Methods

Many people wonder if, nutritionally, raw or cooked cauliflower is better for you. And it’s true: Getting the most nutrients from cauliflower may depend on how you cook it.

Studies show that boiling and blanching result in nutrient loss, but steaming, stir-frying, and microwaving retain the most nutrients in cooking.

Fresh cauliflower has higher antioxidant levels than cooked cauliflower. Antioxidant retention when cooked is highest when cauliflower was steam blanched, followed by steam-boiled, stir-fried, and microwaved.

Summary

Cauliflower is a superfood with many nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a low-carb food, making it an excellent choice for people on keto or gluten-free diets because it can be made into flour and rice.

However, it can be particularly gassy, so people with digestive issues may want to start small and see how their bodies respond. Raw is most nutritious, followed by steaming and stir-frying.