Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Cauliflower is a nutritional superstar and supports health in many ways. Like all cruciferous vegetables (these include broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower is high in fibre and also provides an assortment of vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. Cruciferous vegetables are also well known to contain a unique group of sulphur containing phytonutrients called Glucosinolates. Glucosinolates stimulate liver detoxification and the production of antioxidants. One of the breakdown products of these is called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which helps with oestrogen metabolism in the body.
When it comes to fertility….
In addition to the numerous nutrients provided by cauliflowers, they contain a special phytonutrient known as DIM (Diindolylmethane) which has been linked to potentially reducing oestrogen dominance. DIM is a metabolic by-product of I3C (indole-3-carbinol.) Oestrogen dominance is a major cause of many fertility issues in women. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids and Ovarian Cysts, are all oestrogen dominant conditions. In a research study it was found that women who ate the most fruit and vegetables had the lowest rates of endometriosis (please see reference for the study below under interesting reading). Both men and women’s bodies can experience oestrogen dominance. Men’s oestrogen levels also increase with age and are subject to the same oestrogen balance problems a female body may face, including improper metabolism of oestrogen. DIM has been shown to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to oestrogen. While more research is needed, it’s thought to help balance hormone levels via its effects on oestrogen.
Some ideas of how to enjoy cauliflower – other than just steaming or boiling it!
Spicy Moroccan Cauliflower and Pomegranate Couscous
1 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds to decorate
2 tsp olive oil
1 bunch of fresh coriander chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ lemon (zest of)
½ small bunch mint
4 tbsp dried fruits of your choice
4 tbsp nuts
How to make:
Take the cauliflower florets off the cauliflower and cut them into smaller pieces. Place the florets into a food processor and pulse (until the cauliflower looks like couscous). Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the couscous to the frying pan and allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes stirring frequently. Next, transfer the couscous to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Once the couscous is cool add the spices, lemon zest, dried fruits and nuts. Finely chop the mint and coriander and add to the couscous. Give it a good stir and season. Place the couscous into a serving bowl and top with the pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!
Cauliflower and sweet potato curry
1 onion chopped
1 small head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 can/carton of coconut milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled/finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh coriander chopped (plus more for garnish)
3 chopped sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
8 fresh chopped tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook gently until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and coriander and saute gently for around a minute. Next, add the cauliflower and potatoes along with the red curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and saute for a few more minutes until the vegetables are well coated with the curry paste. Next, add the chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower and potatoes are soft. Serve with rice and chop some fresh coriander over the top to garnish. Enjoy!
Makes 8 portions
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
600g ripe tomatoes
1 cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
3 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 whole green chillies (adjust according to how spicy you like it)
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tsp garam masala
Heat the olive oil in a large pan on a low heat and add the cumin seeds for a few minutes. Then, add the potatoes, tomatoes, pinch of salt and pepper and the turmeric. Give it a good stir and allow to cook gently for 10 minutes.
Next, add the chillies and cauliflower and stir all together well. Place the lid on the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes or until all of the vegetables are cooked. Stir in the garam masala, serve and enjoy!
Cauliflower soup (makes around 6 portions)
800g/1¾lb cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
150ml/5fl oz double cream
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
1 tsp ground coriander and cumin (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry until just softened. Add the chopped cauliflower and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the ground cumin and ground coriander and fry for a further 1-2 minutes (optional) or season to taste as required with black pepper/pinch of salt. Enjoy!
Harris HR, Eke AC, Chavarro JE, Missmer SA. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod. 2018;33(4):715-727. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey014