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Secret Side Effects of Eating Cauliflower, Says Science

A dietitian breaks down what you'll experience when you eat this popular cruciferous veg.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you've stepped foot in a grocery store any time over the past few years, it's almost a guarantee that you have encountered some of your favorite foods in cauliflower form. From pizza to rice to even cookies, cauliflower is certainly having a moment.

Thanks to its neutral flavor and its versatility, cauliflower is a natural addition to many favorite recipes. And as an added bonus, the taste is rarely compromised when this cruciferous veggie is included. It has become a solution for those who are trying to reduce their carbohydrate intake, increase their fiber intake, or limit their calories.

Cauliflower scores high points in the nutrition department. Not only is it low in calories and a natural source of important vitamins and minerals like immune-supporting vitamin C and bone-building calcium, but it also contains good-for-you phytochemicals like chlorophyll (yes, the same good stuff that you find in your uber-trendy chlorophyll water).

We already know that cauliflower is a beloved veggie for the weight-loss crowd thanks to its high-fiber, low-calorie nutrition content. But for others, there are some secret effects of eating this popular veggie that everyone should know about before jumping on the cauli bandwagon. Read on to learn more, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

You may experience excessive gas.

baked cauliflower
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Like all cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower contains the complex sugar raffinose. This sugar is tough for the human body to break down, and in turn, it travels to the large intestine undigested where bacteria ferment it—leading to possible gas and bloat.

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2

You may be at a reduced risk of developing certain cancers.

cauliflower florets
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Many people turn to cauliflower as a low-carb and low-cal weight loss-friendly food, but eating this veggie has benefits beyond helping your jeans fit.

Cauliflower contains an antioxidant called indole-3-carbinol. And this antioxidant is linked to a reduced risk of developing reproductive cancers in both men and women (like breast cancer and prostate cancer).

Another component found in cauliflower called sulforaphane has been linked to a reduced risk of developing certain cancers as well.

3

You may experience a reduced effect of your blood-thinning medication.

grilled cauliflower
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Most people know that eating foods that naturally contain vitamin K should be monitored when taking blood-thinning medication to avoid unwanted interactions. In some cases, taking in too much vitamin K on an inconsistent schedule can cause the dose of the blood thinner to not work as well, increasing a person's risk of developing a dangerous blood clot.

While green leafy veggies are notorious for being vitamin K-rich foods, cauliflower contains this blood clot-supporting nutrient too. If you are taking a blood thinner, going cauliflower-crazy can lead to an unsavory effect.

4

You may experience hypothyroidism if you have an iodine deficiency.

cutting cauliflower
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Cauliflower contains a slew of phytonutrients that offer some amazing health benefits. However, one such phytonutrient produces a molecule called isothiocyanates, which can interfere with iodine absorption in those with low dietary iodine intake, especially if cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are eating in large amounts.

However, if there is no iodine deficiency, the risk does not appear to be present. In one study, those who ate 5 ounces of cooked Brussels sprouts (another source of isothiocyanates) every day for four weeks did not result in hypothyroidism.

5

You may feel less hungry.

baked cauliflower steaks
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The darling of cauliflower claims is that it is a great weight-loss food. Since it is a low-carb, low-cal, low-fat, and high-fiber food, it checks almost all of the boxes when it comes to a slim-down food.

Fiber is particularly key to weight loss, as eating it in adequate amounts has been linked to increased satiety—possibly resulting in people eating less over the long run.

6

You may have a strong immune system.

cauliflower
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Eating one entire head of cauliflower will supply you with four times the recommended amount of vitamin C. And since this nutrient is linked to immune support, enjoying some riced cauliflower in your citrus smoothie may give you that extra boost that your body needs during cold and flu season.

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Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more
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