With the rise of low-carb, ketogenic, and Paleo diets, cauliflower has become increasingly popular, as it can substitute for starchier foods like rice and even pizza dough. This veggie is versatile, non-starchy, and contains a lot of fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Whether you eat it raw, roasted, or riced, cauliflower offers a lot of bang for your nutritional buck.
Cauliflower Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup of raw chopped cauliflower (107g).
- Vitamin C: 51.6mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.2mg
- Magnesium: 16mg
- Potassium: 319.9mg
- Folate: 61mcg
- Choline: 47.4mg
- Vitamin K: 16.6mcg
Like all vegetables, cauliflower is a carbohydrate. But it's the non-starchy, complex kind with lots of fiber and low amounts of natural sugar. It has a low glycemic index rating, somewhere between 15 and 30, meaning that it won't cause a blood sugar spike.
One cup of cauliflower contains about a sixth of the carbs as the same amount of cooked pasta or rice.
Cauliflower has only a trace amount of fat and ischolesterol-free. Therefore, it can easily be included in a low-fat diet or a diet that aims to lower cholesterol.
Cauliflower has a minimal amount of protein. You will need to include other healthy protein sources in your diet to meet your daily protein requirements.
Vitamins and Minerals
Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C. One cup provides more than half of the 75 mg daily recommended intake for adult women and 90 mg recommendation for adult men. It also provides a good dose of vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Those aren't the only nutrients in cauliflower, either. This vegetable contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, and a wide array of B vitamins.
At 27 calories per cup, you'd have to eat a lot of cauliflower before it had a big impact on your total calorie intake. A total of 65% of the calories in cauliflower come from carbs, 26% protein, and 10% fat.
Cauliflower is a fiber-rich vegetable that is low in fat and calories. It is a great source of vitamin C while supplying a good dose of vitamin B6 and magnesium, along with a variety of other trace nutrients.
Thanks to its many micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, cauliflower offers many health benefits.
Provides Health Promoting Fiber
Cauliflower delivers a healthy dose of fiber. One significant benefit of increasing dietary fiber intake is that it can help you maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk of several chronic health conditions.
Cauliflower is an excellent source of dietary fiber. The fiber in cauliflower is known to provide several additional benefits to ward off chronic diseases. It is essential for digestion, blood sugar control, weight management, heart health, cancer prevention, and other benefits.
Reduces Heart Disease Risk
One of the health conditions that fiber helps guard against is heart disease. Research published in 2017 shows that dietary fiber may boost cardiovascular health, at least in part, in the way it influences the gut microbiome.
Poor diet is connected to an increased risk of heart disease, which researchers say can be mitigated by consuming vegetables high in nutritional value. At least eight studies have shown that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, improves the risk of cardiovascular disease, atrioventricular septal defect, ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular accident (type of stroke), ischemic stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage.
Prevents Oxidative Stress and Chronic Diseases
Like other fruits and vegetables, cauliflower is rich in antioxidants. These compounds help repair cells and protect them from inflammation, which can help reduce the risk of chronic illness.
Cauliflower is an excellent source of bioactive phytochemicals, which may reduce the risk of chronic diseases. These include glucosinolates, phenolics, flavonoids, chlorophylls, nutritional compounds, and antioxidants.
May Protect Against Some Cancers
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of this category of vegetables. These chemicals break down to form compounds that may help protect against several forms of cancer.
Lessens the Effects of Aging
Glucoraphanin is a glucosinolate found in cauliflower and a precursor to the phytochemical sulforaphane (SFN). Sulforaphane helps protect against damage caused by spending too much time in the sun's ultraviolet rays and shows promise when included in anti-aging products.
Allergic reactions to cauliflower aren't common, but they have been reported occasionally in the medical literature. Some people who are sensitive to other Brassica vegetables (such as cabbage and broccoli) may also react to cauliflower.
In addition, people who have hay fever due to mugwort pollen may experience oral allergy syndrome when consuming raw cauliflower. Symptoms include itchiness or swelling around the mouth and, rarely, anaphylaxis.
Know the symptoms of anaphylaxis—such as hives and shortness of breath—and seek immediate treatment if you experience them. If you think you're allergic to cauliflower, avoid eating it and talk to your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
People with thyroid problems should avoid eating excessive amounts of cauliflower and cabbage. Both interfere with the body's absorption of iodine, which is needed by the thyroid gland.However, you'd need to eat an unusually large amount of these foods to be at risk, so normal consumption is both acceptable and healthy.
Cauliflower is also high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are types of carbohydrates). People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease may find that their symptoms worsen when eating high-FODMAP foods, including cauliflower.
Once strictly a white vegetable, you can now find a green, orange, and purple varieties of this cruciferous cousin to broccoli and Brussels sprouts. While overall nutrition is similar in each variety, the types of antioxidants present can vary. For example, yellow and orange cauliflower contains more beta-carotene than white cauliflower, and purple cauliflower also contains anthocyanin.
Fresh and frozen cauliflower has a similar nutritional profile. Canned cauliflower is also similar, although it may have more fiber than fresh or frozen.
You can also buy pickled or creamed cauliflower. Pickled cauliflower has more calories, carbs, and sodium than fresh but remains low in calories and fat, while creamed cauliflower has more fat than other varieties and preparations.
When It's Best
Cauliflower is available year-round, but its peak season in the U.S. is late summer through late fall.
Choose fresh cauliflower that has firm, compact heads that are tightly closed. Any attached leaves should be bright green and crisp. The florets should not have any yellowing, which indicates that the cauliflower is overly mature.
Reject any heads that show signs of softness because that's the start of spoilage. For the best flavor, eat cauliflower as soon as possible—precut florets don't store well and are best when eatenwithin a day of purchase.
Storage and Food Safety
Cauliflower is perishable and should be kept cold. Store it in the crisper section of the refrigerator in its original packaging. Don't wash cauliflower until you're ready to cook it.
Brown speckling is a sign of oxidation, which happens due to prolonged exposure to light and air and occurs naturally the longer cauliflower is stored. You can cutaway the occasional brown spot, but if this discoloration appears throughout the head (a sign of spoilage), it's best to toss it.
Once cooked, you can store cauliflower in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a few months. Or blanch fresh cauliflower florets, then freeze; they will keep for up to a year.
How to Prepare
Raw cauliflower can be broken into small florets to add crunch to salads or munch on as a snack with dressing or dip. Cauliflower can also be cooked whole, pulsed, or cut up into florets for steaming, sautéing, blanching, stir-frying, or roasting. The leaves and core are edible too.
Cauliflower can easily substitute for starchier foods (such as potatoes), adding vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Substituting cauliflower rice for grains adds an extra vegetable to your meal and reduces calories and carbs if that is one of your goals.
You can make your cauliflower rice or purchase pre-cooked and grated cauliflower sold as cauliflower rice. Here is how this "rice" compares, nutritionally, to cooked white rice and brown rice, per 1-cup serving.
|Cauliflower rice||White rice||Brown rice|
6 Uses for Cauliflower Rice
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
United States Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Cauliflower, raw.
United States Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Pasta, cooked, enriched, with added salt.
National Institutes of Health. Vitamin C.
Slavin JL.Carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and resistant starch in white vegetables: links to health outcomes.Adv Nutr.2013;4(3):351S-5S. doi:10.3945/an.112.003491
Cronin P, Joyce SA, O’Toole PW, O’Connor EM. Dietary fibre modulates the gut microbiota. Nutrients. 2021;13(5):1655. doi:10.3390%2Fnu13051655
Blekkenhorst L, Sim M, Bondonno C, et al. Cardiovascular health benefits of specific vegetable types: a narrative review. Nutrients. 2018;10(5):595. doi:10.3390%2Fnu10050595
Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al.Dietary intake and blood concentrations of antioxidants and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;108(5):1069‐1091. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy097
Drabińska N, Jeż M, Nogueira M. Variation in the accumulation of phytochemicals and their bioactive properties among the aerial parts of cauliflower. Antioxidants. 2021;10(10):1597. doi:10.3390%2Fantiox10101597
USDA FoodData Central.Rice, white, short-grain, enriched, cooked.
Yagishita Y, Fahey JW, Dinkova-Kostova AT, Kensler TW. Broccoli or sulforaphane: is it the source or dose that matters? Molecules. 2019;24(19):3593. doi:10.3390%2Fmolecules24193593
Northwestern Medicine. Myths About Diet and Your Thyroid.
Saha L.Irritable bowel syndrome: pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine.World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(22):6759-6773. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i22.6759
U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central.Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program).
By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, counseling patients with diabetes. Barbie was previously the Advanced Nutrition Coordinator for the Mount Sinai Diabetes and Cardiovascular Alliance and worked in pediatric endocrinology at The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center.
See Our Editorial Process
Meet Our Review Board
Was this page helpful?
Thanks for your feedback!
What is your feedback?