Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea botrytis) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family, and a close relative of cabbage and broccoli. It is derived from wild cabbages and its name literally means “cabbage flower.” Cauliflower is believed to have originated in Asia, but developed in Italy. Its head is actually a compact cluster of flower buds.
According to folklore, cauliflower is said to be beneficial for mental function, because of its similar appearance to the brain. Cauliflower is cooling, antioxidant, alterative and helps move stagnation in the body and clear heat in the lungs. Cauliflower is believed to reduce the risk of colon and stomach cancer due to its presence of anticancer compounds, including indoles and sulforaphane that enhances enzyme activity that neutralizes carcinogenic substances, so they are unable to attack cells and transform them into cancerous substances. Cauliflower also helps the body metabolize excess estrogen, helping to curb breast cancer as well as, fibrocystic breast disease. It has also been used to treat acne, asthma, bladder and kidney disorders, constipation, high blood pressure, gout, and obesity. Consumed raw, it helps improve bleeding gums.
Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, folic acid, biotin, B6, boron, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. It is high in fiber, yet low in calories. Its white color denotes that it lacks the chlorophyll and carotenes of many of its more nutritious relatives.
Look for firm, compact heads without brown spots. If the leaves (which are edible) are still attached, they should be fresh and green. Refrigerate cauliflower with the stem upwards to prevent moisture from collecting on its top and hastening deterioration. Cauliflower can be chopped into salads, used as crudités, made into soups or pates. Cooking cauliflower deactivates its indole activity. Large quantities may cause indigestion or flatulence in some people.