Cauliflower: A Substitute for Everything?
Published: September 23, 2022
Updated: June 1, 2023
Cauliflower crust or regular pizza crust? Cauliflower rice or white rice? How about buffalo cauliflower or buffalo chicken? Cauliflower is showing up in more recipes and menus as an alternative to many different traditional ingredients. It has a mild flavor and goes well in many dishes, but is choosing the cauliflower mac n cheese a healthier option than regular mac n cheese? In this blog, we’ll explain everything you need to know about adding this vegetable to your diet.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that can be eaten cooked or raw. Let’s start with an overview of the nutrients in cauliflower. In one cup of chopped (raw) cauliflower (approx. 107 grams), there are:1
- 27 calories
- 2 grams of protein
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 5 grams of carbohydrates (including 2.1 grams of fiber and 2 grams of sugar)
- 85% of the RDI for vitamin C
- 20% of the RDI for vitamin K
- 11% of the RDI for vitamin B6
- 14% of the RDI for folate
And, cauliflower is a very hydrating vegetable – its water content is 92 percent!
Health Benefits of Eating Cauliflower
In addition to being a good source of vitamins, cauliflower is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help protect against cancer.2,3 Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive tract. Fiber keeps you full, which makes cauliflower a good food for weight loss. Eating cauliflower is also associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and better insulin sensitivity.4
Cauliflower is a good source of the nutrient choline.1 Choline is important for synthesizing DNA, supporting your metabolism, and keeping your brain and liver healthy. It is important to get enough choline; this will protect against liver disease and neurological disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.5 There are not a lot of foods that are good sources of choline, which is another good reason to eat more cauliflower!
How to Pick Good Cauliflower
You can buy cauliflower fresh or frozen and it’s pretty easy to find at most supermarkets. When buying fresh cauliflower, look for one that is firm, has no dark spots, and has bright green leaves. Cauliflower can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to five days.
Should You Eat More Cauliflower?
Yes! Adding cauliflower to your diet is an excellent way to get another serving of vegetables. How you choose to add it to your diet will depend on your nutrition goals. For example, what kind of pizza crust should you use? Homemade cauliflower crust will likely be lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fat than wheat pizza crust and store bought cauliflower crust. Store bought cauliflower crusts often contain cheese, eggs, and other binding agents so they are higher in saturated fat and actually don’t contain that much cauliflower. The same is true of other cauliflower breads and muffins. However, if you’re only looking for a low-carb and gluten-free alternative, any cauliflower crust is probably a good choice.
One possible danger of eating a lot of cauliflower is the vitamin K content. Vitamin K helps your blood clot, and eating a lot of it can cause problems for people who are taking blood-thinning medications. If you have concerns about adding cauliflower to your diet, a Kyla doctor and our registered dietitian can help you figure out how to do it in a healthy way.
How to Eat More Cauliflower
Cauliflower makes an excellent healthy low-carb alternative to grains and legumes, so it’s a good option for low-carb and keto diets. One cup of cauliflower has only 5 grams of carbs, but one cup of rice has about 45 grams of carbs.1 Please note that we are not saying there is anything wrong with rice – it has its own unique nutrient profile and benefits! However, cauliflower can be a great replacement for rice if you are looking to increase your fiber and vegetable intake.
There are so many different ways you can incorporate cauliflower into your diet. Aside from rice, it also mashes well, so you can use it as a replacement for chickpeas in hummus and use cauliflower mash to replace mashed potatoes. Similarly to pizza crust, cauliflower can be used to make low-carb tortillas or wraps. Cauliflower has a mild flavor that goes well with cheeses and sauces, so it can replace pasta in mac n cheese and makes a good substitute for chicken in dishes that use buffalo chicken. Or, eat cauliflower plain! It is excellent raw, steamed, roasted, and sauteed.
Cauliflower can be a tasty addition to your life! Try it in a new dish and let us know what you think. For more information on healthy swaps for common foods, check out our other articles.
Want recipes that are tailored to your goals? Take charge of your health and longevity with Kyla’s Longevity program! Our expert team, including a registered dietitian, provides comprehensive support on your journey to living a long, healthy life. Discover your personalized nutrition and wellness plan tailor-made for you today!
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData central. Usda.gov. Published April 2023. Accessed May 26, 2023. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/
- Ali SS, Ahsan H, Zia MK, Siddiqui T, Khan FH. Understanding oxidants and antioxidants: Classical team with new players. J Food Biochem. 2020;44(3):e13145. doi:10.1111/jfbc.13145
- Connolly EL, Sim M, Travica N, et al. Glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables and their potential role in chronic disease: Investigating the preclinical and clinical evidence. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:767975. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.767975
- Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The health benefits of dietary fibre. Nutrients. 2020;12(10):3209. doi:10.3390/nu12103209
- Choline. Nih.gov. Accessed June 1, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/