Cauliflower most likely originated in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean over 2000 years ago. Popular in Europe during the 16th century, cauliflower eventually spread from there to the Americas. There are very many varieties of cauliflower separated into four major groups: Italian, Northwest European Biennial, Northern European Annuals and Asian. Cauliflower is very sensitive to the climate and the conditions in which it is grown. In unfavorable conditions, the cauliflower may develop premature heads or curds. Cauliflower is part of the Brassicaceae family which also includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens.
Cauliflower is very nutritious and beneficial to the human body as it is known to fight diseases and cancer growth. It is generally low in fat, high in water, folate, dietary fiber and Vitamin C, having a very high nutritional density. Cauliflower has the compound indole-3-carbinol that can prevent or slow down the growth of tumors of the breasts and prostate. The vegetable also contains sulforaphane, which is an anti-cancer compound which is released when chewed or sliced. Additionally, eating cauliflower is beneficial to the liver and it can help to fend off certain types of prostate cancer.
Serving cauliflower raw will give you the most benefits when it comes to nutrition. If you must cook the cauliflower, lightly steaming it will keep its cancer-fighting nutrients intact. Cauliflower can also be fried, boiled or roasted. The leaves can be eaten or discarded. Cauliflower is often served with a gravy or cheese sauce. It can also be a substitute for potatoes for the low carb dieters because cauliflower lacks the starch that real mashed potatoes offer. The potato substitute is often called fauxtato.
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