Move over, kale! The new food trend is cauliflower, and to be honest, it might be getting out of hand. This once-humble vegetable is taking center stage in lots of creative ways.
And since trends come and go, it just might be time for this trend to make its way out of the kitchen. As with all things, too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily a good thing. And this cauliflower craze could have a negative impact on your health. Yes, cauliflower benefits come with some downsides, too.
When Did the Cauliflower Craze Start?
It’s hard to say when the whole cauliflower obsession began, but one possibility is the emergence of the grain-free and Paleo diet trends that rose in popularity around ten years ago.
With Paleo, you’re supposed to mimic the diets of our early ancestors and eschew modern, processed foods. The Paleo diet is full of vegetables, meats, animal products, nuts, seeds, some legumes, and little to no fruits and grains.
Then, thanks to leading doctors like Dr. David Perlmutter and his bestselling book, Grain Brain, along with Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, people began avoiding not only gluten but most grains, too.
And without grains to fill them up, people had a void to fill. And it didn’t take long to come up with a grain substitute: cauliflower rice. Who knew?
And since many grain-free, gluten-free, and Paleo enthusiasts needed some way to enjoy their beloved dinner favorite – pizza – they turned to cauliflower for the crust.
These creative ideas might have been the beginning of the obsession for an otherwise boring vegetable. And people have been crazy for cauliflower ever since.
But it’s not just home cooks who are playing around with cauliflower. Even celebrity chefs, like Rachel Ray, are digging this humble cruciferous.
For her 2014 Thanksgiving, Ray shared her Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic Ricotta Cream Sauce. And while it looks amazingly good, one has to wonder if the novelty of this dish is what really propelled the cauliflower craze forward.
Chefs throughout the country have followed suit. You can find eateries that grill cauliflower like a steak. You can bake it like Ray did in a myriad of ways. You can even turn this healthy, low-calorie veggie into fat-laden fare by frying it. And if you want to replace mashed potatoes, look no further than pureed and mashed cauliflower.
As you can see, the good thing about cauliflower is that it’s incredibly versatile and can adapt to so many different cooking methods and cuisines. But this is a double-edged sword, and the culinary world has definitely run wild with it.
Why else would Epicurious, the ultimate food resource for passionate home cooks, feature over 40 cauliflower recipes, all vying for your attention, all different in their own unique way? As you browse through their tantalizing gallery, it’s easy to forget that we’re talking about cauliflower.
There are “Herb-Crusted Cauliflower Steaks,” “Buffalo Cauliflower Wings,” and “Cauliflower-Carrot Cheesy Tots,” just to name three of the recipes.
Even Saveur, a more prestigious cooking resource, doesn’t disappoint cauliflower fans. You can enjoy a swanky Marinated Cauliflower Salad, or tantalizing Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Soufflés. And if that’s not enough, don’t worry. There’s plenty more.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “So what?” There are probably lots of recipes for every other vegetable out there, too, right? What’s more, cauliflower does have some health benefits. So, is there really any need to bash the cauliflower craze?
On the one hand, you’re right. Cauliflower benefits and nutrition facts are pretty impressive.
Cauliflower Nutrition Facts
- Rich in antioxidants
- Very low in fat
- Low-carbohydrate food (5 grams of carbs per 100 grams)
- Low in calories (25 calories per 100 grams)
- A good source of protein and fiber (1.9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per 100 grams)
- Contains Vitamins B, C, and K (80% of daily Vitamin C per 100 grams)
- Rich in minerals
With so much nutrition packed into one head of cauliflower, it only makes sense that it can provide lots of health benefits. And here are three significant health benefits of cauliflower.
Cauliflower Helps Reduce Cancer Risk
Cauliflower, along with other cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale, can help to reduce cancer risk.
Cauliflower Is Anti-inflammatory
Thanks to its high antioxidant content, cauliflower can help to reduce inflammation in the body. And this is so important because inflammation is thought to be the root cause of all diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Important compounds in cauliflower can help the liver detox the body, and this is crucial since we’re exposed to pollutants in the environment, in our foods, and even in our personal care products.
What’s more, cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower, help to remove excess estrogen from the body. For women, this is an excellent way to maintain hormonal balance and avoid reproductive problems. This is one of the most significant benefits of cauliflower.
Disadvantages of Cauliflower
Even though cauliflower provides many significant health benefits, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat this vegetable and forget about all the others.
Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing, and too much cauliflower can leave you with some undesirable health issues. Here are three important disadvantages of cauliflower.
Too Much Cauliflower Leads to Flatulence
The complex carbohydrates in cauliflower get broken down in the small intestine. And this process leads to gas. And if you eat too much cauliflower, you can end up bloated, uncomfortable, and a bit gassy.
Gastrointestinal troubles and indigestion are no joke – you can end up having huge stomach pains, cramps, and other nasty side effects.
Cauliflower can be so damaging and troublesome on your intestines that people on a low FODMAP diet can’t eat even a little bit of cauliflower: that’s because cauliflower contains fructan and sorbitol, both of which must be avoided by people with poor digestion.
The bloating caused by cauliflower may cause discomfort even for those who usually tolerate FODMAPs well.
Too Much Cauliflower Interferes With Blood Thinning Medications
The high Vitamin K content in cauliflower makes it easier for your blood to clot. But for people taking blood-thinning medications, like Coumadin, this can be a problem and have the opposite effect.
Too Much Cauliflower Blocks Iodine Absorption
Specific molecules in cauliflower can prevent your body from absorbing iodine. But without even iodine, your thyroid can suffer, leaving you with a condition called hypothyroidism. Of course, you need to have very low iodine levels for this to happen, however, a cauliflower craze certainly doesn’t help.
While the obsession with cauliflower has definitely given us endless variations of cauliflower dishes, it’s entirely possible that we’ve taken things a bit too far. Cauliflower benefits may be great, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that can replace other foods. Listen to your body and if cauliflower is causing you digestive issues, it’s better to steer clear.