Cauliflower is a cultivar within the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten while the stalk and surrounding thick, green leaves are discarded.
Cauliflower is very nutritious, and may be eaten cooked, raw or pickled. Its name is a variation of cole flower or kale flower (cole and kale being variations of the same word), an acknowledgment of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating.
The Brassica oleracea species is the same species as cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups.
Cauliflowers are an excellent source of vitamins C. They provide dietary fibre and folate (one of the B vitamins that prevents birth defects). Like their cabbage relatives they contain substances called indoles. Some scientists have found that indoles give protection against some cancers.
Cauliflower also contains sulfur-containing phytonutrients. These compounds trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. Cauliflowers can be eaten raw to retain their vitamins.
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