Cauliflower Power

Jasminder Nagra may have scoffed at aloo gobhi as she tried to Bend it Like Beckham but her mum seems to have known more than she let on. The humble cruciferous cousin of broccoli, kale and kohlrabi has a lot going for it.

Loaded with vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, the cauliflower is a powerhouse of nutrition. Extremely low in calories, it’s now edging out broccoli as the hot new superfood on menus worldwide.

No wonder health-conscious mothers in the US and Europe are coaxing their children to “eat your cauliflower” instead of “eat your greens”. Fine dining restaurants have also moved the vegetable from the side dish menu to the main course one. Cauliflower steak, anyone?

The cauliflower craze runs so deep that the vegetable is being used as a base for many food items. Supermarkets abroad sell cauli-couscous, pizza base or flour (cauliflour, if you wish). Cauliflower rice, made by grating the florets, is a rage as a low-calorie replacement for rice – it contains only 25 calories per 100g compared with about 140 calories per 100g of cooked white rice.

 One of the chief reasons for cauliflower’s new-found popularity is its cancer-fighting potential. Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a compound that reportedly has an adverse effect on cancer cells. A regular intake of cauliflower has also been linked to reduction in risk of cancers affecting the breast, bladder, colorectal region and lung. A recent study also found that combining cauliflower with curcumin – a compound in turmeric – can cure prostate cancer.

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