Cauliflower is a variety of cabbage of the Brassicaceae family, cultivated and eaten as a vegetable. It is a biennial plant that produces a soft and compact edible ball which can be white, yellow, purple, or else.
Cauliflower is a very healthy cruciferous vegetable. It consists of about 85% water, but contains no carbohydrates, protein and fat. It is, however, a rich source of important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. It is ideal as part of a balanced diet as well as for dieting, it provides few calories. Its biggest advantage is the fact it is multifunctional as it can be eaten raw, steamed, in salads or in many different dishes.
Antioxidants and Phytonutrients
Cauliflower consumption provides to our organism a lot of antioxidants and phytonutrients that are essential to preventing many diseases, including cancer. This plant contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, quercetin, cinnamic acid and many other substances. These antioxidants help the body to protect against damage from free radicals. They also delay the aging of our body and prevent damage against our organs and tissues.
Cauliflower and Cancer Prevention
Cauliflower contains a large amount of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous nutrients, including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is a component that helps the body prevent and prevent not only inflammatory reactions but also almost all forms of malignant tumors.
Sulforaphane contained in cauliflower is a compound that has proven to be effective for removing stem cells responsible for cancer formation, by blocking tumor growth. Certain medical scientists believe killing cancer stem cells may be a key to control cancerous tumors. According to some recent studies, combination of cauliflower and curcumin (the active ingredient of turmeric) can be very effective in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Cauliflower and Prostate Cancer
Eating more than one serving of broccoli and cauliflower a week may reduce the risk of suffering from the aggressive form of prostate cancer. This is the conclusion of a major US study conducted from 1993 to 2001 with approximately 30 000 men aged 55 to 74 years. However, the results do not allow associating the consumption of cruciferous to a decreased risk of dying from a prostate cancer (after diagnosis) whose growth is, in most cases, relatively slow.
During the study, it was found that the men who ate broccoli more than once a week would have reduced their risk of suffering from advanced form of prostate cancer up to 45%, compared to those who consumed less than once per month. Amazingly this proportion was 52% for those who ate cauliflower more than once a week.
Broccoli and cauliflower are part of the cruciferous family, which contain numerous derivatives of glucosinolates. These compounds limit the proliferation of cancer cells and eventually their migration to other organs. Other factors, however, could have influenced the results of the study. Individuals who eat more fruits and vegetables usually practiced more physical activity, smoking less and therefore have a healthier lifestyle.
Participants were followed for about four years. They first answered a questionnaire about their eating habits and their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Regular screening tests were then carried out.
Cauliflower and Breast Cancer
In studies on animals, it was shown that sulforaphane could reduce the incidence and impact of breast cancer. In addition, other components of the cauliflower, as indoles and isothiocyanates, have proved effective in inhibiting the development of cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and the stomach. The National Cancer Institute states: “Indoles and isothiocyanates-have-been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach.”
4. Kirsh VA, Peters U, et al. Prospective Study of Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer, J Natl Cancer Inst, 2007 Aug 1;99(15):1200-9.
2. La forme avancée correspond aux stades III et IV. Au stade I, le cancer précoce est découvert par une biopsie. Dans le stade II, la tumeur présente la forme d’un nodule palpable, bien localisé. Durant le stade III, le cancer s’étend. Au stade IV, des métastases apparaissent. Tiré du site de la Fondation québécoise du cancer : www.fqc.qc.ca. [Consulté le 18 septembre 2007.]