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Cauliflower

Brassica oleracea botrytis

Herbs gallery - Cauliflower

The vegetable cauliflower (botanical name, Brassica oleracea botrytis) derives its name from the Latin term 'caulis' that denotes 'stalk' and 'floris', which translated into English means 'flower'. Therefore, the expression 'kale' is also associated with caulis, and the name of cauliflower may be translated like cabbage flower or kale flower. This name also suggests that cauliflower is basically an exceptional plant belonging to a family that is grown for edible greens, and not for flowers. Cauliflower is native to the Mediterranean region and, hence, has a preference for cool, humid climatic conditions. If grown in climatic conditions that are extremely cold for the plant, it will simply produce small, incomplete heads.

In principle, the majority of the cauliflower plant is edible, but most people favor the head of the cauliflower, which is created from a mass of undeveloped flower stalks. Generally, the head has a white hue, but several variations of cauliflower are available in green and purple colors too. The plant's leaves and stalk can also be eaten, but they need to be cooked prior to consumption. Any part of the plant that a person may prefer to consume, the head must have a firm and consistent color when it is bought. At the same time, the leaves as well as stalks of the cauliflower should be crispy, and not wilting.

Cauliflower is among the numerous vegetables belonging to species Brassica oleracea, which is a member of the family Brassicaceae. Cauliflower is an annually growing plant, which propagates by its seeds. Usually, just the head (also known as the white curd) of the aborted flowery meristems is consumed, while some people also use the stalk and the thick, green leaves while preparing a vegetable broth. In most cases, they are thrown away.

Other vegetables like cabbage, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are also members of the species Brassica oleracea. However, these belong to dissimilar cultivar groups.

Apart from citrus fruits, the second best natural resource of vitamin C, an antioxidant that aids in fighting against cancer, is cauliflower. This vegetable is also a significant combatant in the constant battle waged by our body against all types of infections. In addition, cauliflower is also reputed for containing significant amounts of fiber, potassium, and folic acid. Therefore, this vegetable is actually more nourishing compared to what its white appearance would make one suppose. Since cauliflower encloses vitamin C, this vegetable is a natural combatant against cancer. Besides vitamin C, cauliflower also encloses indole, a type of phytochemicals that invigorate secretion of enzymes that obstruct cancerous growth.

Health benefits of cauliflower

From the health perspective, scientists have not undertaken much research on cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable. Nevertheless, one will find some odd dozen researches related to cauliflower, for instance, regarding diets containing cauliflower to prevent developing cancer, especially vis-à-vis breast cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and ovarian cancer. The relation between cauliflower and prevention of cancer is hardly surprising as cauliflower supplies the body systems with specific nutrient support, which are intimately associated with the development of cancer and also prevention of this deadly disease. The three different body systems promoted by cauliflower, include the detoxifying system of the body, the antioxidant system of the body and the body's inflammatory/ anti-inflammatory system. It is important to note that persistent imbalances or discrepancies in either of these body systems may enhance the hazards of developing cancer, and In case simultaneous imbalances of these body systems augment the risks of cancer considerably.

Since it is a very good natural resource of manganese and vitamin C, cauliflower supplies our body with two fundamental traditional antioxidants. Nevertheless, the antioxidant support provided by cauliflower is much more compared to the plant nourishments found in the world of phytonutrients. The main antioxidant phytonutrients enclosed by cauliflower include beta- carotene, caffeic acid, beta cryptoxanthin, ferulic acid, rutin, cinnamic acid, kaempferol and quercetin. Such a wide variety of antioxidant support aids in diminishing the risk of oxidative strain in the cells in our body. In effect, recurring or persistent oxidative stress, which means the constant existence of extremely reactive molecules containing oxygen and the total damage caused to the cells in our body by these molecules, is a hazard that may result in developing majority types of cancer. By supplying the body with such an assortment of antioxidant nourishments, cauliflower actually aids in reducing the risk of developing cancer by assisting our body to put off unceasing as well as undesirable oxidative stress.

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Being an outstanding natural source of vitamin K, cauliflower offers us a range of characteristic anti-inflammatory nutrients. It may be noted that vitamin K also functions in the form of a direct controller of the inflammatory response in our body. Besides, glucobrassicin, a glucosinolate present in cauliflower, has the aptitude to be easily transformed into ITC, an isothiocyanate molecule or indole-3-carbinol. In effect, indole-3-carbinol (I3C, as it is often referred to) is basically an anti-inflammatory amalgam, which has the aptitude to really function at the genetic plane. And this action of I3C is known to help in putting off the irritation caused by inflammatory reactions at the primary stage.

Similar to chronic weakened detox ability and also chronic oxidative stress, chronic undesirable inflammation too can enhance the risk of developing cancer considerably along with other ailments, particularly cardiovascular diseases. Although scientists have never considered cardiovascular troubles like having a central inflammatory component, the function of undesirable inflammation in generating problems for the blood vessels as well as circulation has turned out to be more and more essential in order to comprehend cardiovascular diseases appropriately. In effect, cauliflower's anti-inflammatory support to the body, counting vitamin K and omega-3 enclosed by the vegetable makes it a fare which possesses the ability to offer cardiovascular benefits. The glucoraphanin content of cauliflower is of special interest. Glucoraphanin is basically a glucosinolate, which may be transformed into isothiocyanate (ITC) sulforaphane. It may be noted that sulforaphane does not just activate anti-inflammatory actions within the cardiovascular system, but it is also like to be capable of putting off and probably even helping in reversing the damage caused to the blood vessels.

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Cauliflower contains about 12 grams of fiber in each 100 calories and this particularly makes this vegetable a wonderful selection for support to the digestive system. In fact, you will be able to receive almost 50 per cent of your fiber Daily Value when you consume cauliflower worth 200 calories. Precisely speaking, cauliflower's fiber content is just one among the many digestive means of this cruciferous vegetable. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the sulforaphane prepared from glucoraphanin (one glucosinolate present in cauliflower) has the aptitude to assist in safeguarding the membrane lining the stomach. Sulforaphane offers this health benefit by means of putting off overgrowth of bacteria, especially Helicobacter pylori, in the stomach or excessive binding of this particular bacterium to the wall of the stomach.

The anti-inflammatory character of isothiocyanates/ glucosinolates as well as other nourishing substances present in cauliflower have been the foundation for a latest study on health problems related to inflammation as well as the likely function of cauliflower in preventing such inflammatory health problems. Although a number of researches have now been undertaken with a view to examine the advantages provided by cruciferous vegetables as a group, instead of just examining the benefits offered by cauliflower, hopeful research is in progress that ought to throw some light on the probable advantages of consuming cauliflower vis-à-vis the risk of developing any health problem related to inflammation, for instance inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.

As mentioned earlier, cauliflower is an excellent natural resource of vitamin C and, in addition, also contains the trace mineral selenium, which works like antioxidant and assists in fortifying the immune system by combating against contagions, for instance, flu, common cold and bronchitis. Studies have revealed that the vitamin C enclosed by cauliflower may assist in diminishing the wheezing in children enduring asthma.

In addition to vitamin C, cauliflower also encloses significant amount of potassium and fiber. This cruciferous vegetable also contains low amounts of fat, calories and cholesterol and is a wonderful food for a healthy heart. The potassium and fiber present in cauliflower aid in lowering high blood pressure (hypertension) and the low sodium content is a main reason why this vegetable is included in the diet of patients syogurt.htmuffering from hypertension. In fact, people with high blood pressure may consume raw cauliflower with a low-fat dip, such as yogurt.

A substance known as allicin, which is also found in garlic and onion, is present in cauliflower. Allicin aids in avoiding heart attack as well as other cardiovascular ailments. As aforementioned, like any other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is also an excellent source of phytonutrients like isothiocyanate and sulforaphane, which have the aptitude to diminish the hazards of developing a variety of cancers, including colon, ovarian, lung, breast. In addition, cauliflower also supplies us with fiber that helps in preventing constipation as well as colon cancer.

Cauliflower may be consumed raw or after cooking. In India, cauliflower is a very popular vegetable and is prepared in a variety of ways - stir-fired, steamed and even included in curries and soups. From the health point of view, cauliflower has so much to offer, that most of us often do not realize or even imagine. In addition, its fat content is also very low and does not have any cholesterol.

In addition, cauliflower also encloses many phytochemicals, such as sulforaphane as well as plant sterols like asindole-3-carbinol, all of which are anti-cancer. These phytochemicals also seem to work as anti-estrogen agents. Combined, all these plant amalgams offer benefits against various types of cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, cervical and ovarian.

Cauliflower also encloses a compound, soluble in lipid called Di-indolyl-methane (DIM). Studies have found this compound to be effectual immune modulator, anti-viral and anti-bacterial by means of its production and potentiating interferon-gamma receptors. In addition, it has recently been discovered that DIM may also be used in treating recurring respiratory papillomatosis attributed to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) as well as in the third phase of clinical experiments in cervical dysplasia.

Additionally, cauliflower also encloses significant quantities of several vital vitamins in the B-complex group, including pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folates, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamin (vitamin B1), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). All such vitamins are vital because they are necessary for the body from external resources to reload. In addition, they are needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

Moreover, cauliflower is an excellent natural resource of a number of minerals, including copper, iron, manganese, potassium and calcium. The body makes use of manganese in the form of a co-factor for superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. Similarly, potassium is also a vital intra-cellular electrolyte and assists in neutralizing the effects of high blood pressure due to sodium.

Cooking tips

Cauliflower may be cooked as a whole vegetable or cut into separate florets, depending on the recipe. For this, you need to choose a cauliflower that is firm/ compact and does not have any blotches. The external leaves of the vegetable should be fresh and green. Soak the vegetable in warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes with a view to get rid of worms and dirt, if it has any. While cooking cauliflower, it is advisable that you add lemon juice or milk to it, as it will help to preserve the whiteness of the vegetable.

Selection and storage

Although the best quality of cauliflower is available in winter, these days, one can buy this vegetable throughout the year. Generally, cauliflower is harvested when its head grows to the preferred size, but prior to the buds starting to become detached.

While buying cauliflower from any store, opt for fresh heads having a snow or creamy white color. Ensure that the head is compact and has a heavy feeling when taken in hand. If a cauliflower has a grain-like surface and the heads are separated, it shows that the vegetable has matured too much. On the other hand, the head may be green if the vegetable has been exposed too much to sunlight. It is advisable that you keep away from cauliflowers whose heads have a bruised surface, since this is an indication of careless handling of the vegetable. If there are dark patches on the head of cauliflower, it shows that the vegetable has been affected by mold disease, called downy mildew.

To store cauliflower at home, you may keep it in a refrigerator which is set with an elevated relative humidity. This vegetable remains fresh for approximately a week.

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