Cauliflower vs Broccoli: Which Is the Healthier Option?

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

Broccoli and cauliflower are both cruciferous vegetables. They both taste delicious sautéed, roasted or raw. But which is healthier? Let’s examine the facts.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DC, and creator of the ketotarian diet, tells us that cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are particularly nutritious because they’re high in vitamins and nutrients that “aid in enhancing heart health, fighting cancer, and rebalancing blood sugar.” They’re also low-cal and high-fiber, so they keep you feeling satisfied. And while vegetables aren’t protein powerhouses like meat, broccoli contains a surprising amount.

Broccoli’s Nutritional Info (Per 1 Cup)
Calories: 31
Protein: 2.6 grams
Carbs: 6 grams
Fiber: 9.6% recommended daily value (DV)
Calcium: 4.3% DV
Vitamin K: 116% DV

Other Health Benefits
1. Reduces Cholesterol Levels

Broccoli is high in soluble fiber, which has been linked to lower cholesterol. According to this study published in Nutrition Research, steamed broccoli is particularly useful for lowering cholesterol levels. (By the way, you probably aren’t eating enough fiber. Of the 25 to 30 grams the FDA recommends daily, most Americans eat only 16. Here are eight more high-fiber foods to add to your diet.)

2. Aids in Eye Health

Like carrots and bell peppers, broccoli is good for your eyes, since two of the main carotenoids in broccoli, lutein and zeaxanthin, are associated with a decreased risk of age-related eye disorders. (Here are six more foods proven to be good for your eyesight.)

3. Promotes Bone Health

Broccoli is a great (non-dairy) source of calcium, which helps in managing bone health. It’s also rich in manganese, which helps in building the bone density and can also assist in hair growth. Therefore, broccoli is essential for people with arthritis and other bone issues.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

According to certified dietician-nutritionist and founder of Real Nutrition Amy Shapiro, cauliflower is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, folic acid, potassium and fiber. “Cauliflower also contains phytonutrients,” says Shapiro, “which have immune enhancing, anti-aging and cancer fighting properties.”

Cauliflower’s Nutritional Info (Per 1 Cup)
Calories: 27
Protein: 2.1 grams
Carbs: 5 grams
Fiber: 8.4% DV
Calcium: 2.4% DV
Vitamin K: 21% DV

Other Health Benefits
1. Great Source of Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect your cells from harmful free radicals and inflammation. Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is particularly high in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, two groups of antioxidants that have been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells. Eating glucosinolates might help lower your risk of cancer. The reasons why are not fully understood, but they might help remove or neutralize carcinogens or affect your body's hormone levels to prevent hormone-related cancers.

2. May Aid in Weight Loss

While neither veggie is high in calories, cauliflower is slightly lower-cal, making it a go-to for people looking to lose weight. It’s an excellent substitute for many carb-laden favorites, like rice and potatoes, without sacrificing taste.

So Which Is Healthier?

Nutrition-wise, broccoli ever so slightly edges out its cruciferous cousin, with impressive levels of calcium, vitamin K and fiber. Still, both veggies are low in calories and high in common nutrients like folate, manganese, protein and other vitamins. They’re also extremely versatile and should absolutely be part of any healthy diet. But if there absolutely must be a winner, broccoli takes the cake—er, salad.

Members of the Brassica family (like broccoli and cauliflower, along with kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and more) are great for fighting inflammation, explains ketogenic diet expert Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC. “These vegetables are all considered sulfuric, aiding in methylation—your body’s biochemical superhighway that down-regulates inflammation and keeps your detox pathways functioning optimally.” They can also boost heart health, ward off cancer and rebalance your blood sugar.

What's the Best Way to Eat Them?

We've already determined the cauliflower and broccoli are super versatile, but if you're looking for delicious ways to add them to your daily diet, read on.

1. Raw

Unlike some veggies (ahem, potatoes and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower and broccoli taste delicious raw. If you do want a little more flavor, might we suggest a spicy avocado hummus or honey ricotta dip?

2. Cooked

Steamed, roasted—you name it. You can even fry these guys, which, yes, makes them a little less healthy, but everyone deserves a cheat day every now and then.

Try: Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad, Charred Broccoli with Sriracha Almond Butter Sauce, Roasted Cauliflower Dip

3. As Substitutes for Less Healthy Foods

As previously mentioned, these cruciferous veggies are great, lower-calorie substitutes for some of our carb-laden favorites. Oftentimes, all you need is a head of cauliflower and a food processor to craft a delicious, healthier dupe of one your guilty pleasure foods.

Try: Cauliflower 'Potato' Salad, Cauliflower Fried Rice, Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower, Gluten-Free Cheese and Cauliflower 'Breadsticks', 'Everything Bagel' Cauliflower Rolls

RELATED: Food Combining Is Trending, but Does It Actually Work?