Cauliflower is a commonly consumed winter vegetable which is grown extensively in India. Usually we cook the white or yellow colored flower portion, and throw away the green leaves in the garbage bin or utilize them to feed domestic animals. These wasted leaves account for almost same volume as the used portion of the cauliflower. Cauliflower leaves are less commonly used and inexpensive leafy vegetable whose nutritive potential has not yet been adequately utilized. It is rich in various nutrients but has the highest waste index.
Do you know cauliflower leaves are nutritionally superior than cauliflower?
Based on the data provided by Food Composition Table, National Institution of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India, the nutritive value of fresh cauliflower and its leaves compare as follows-
Comparison of nutritive values of cauliflower and cauliflower leaves on a fresh basis (values per 100 g of edible portion)
|Name of the Nutrient(s)||Cauliflower||Cauliflower leaves|
|Total ash (g)||1.0||3.2 g|
The table clearly indicates that –
1. Cauliflower leaves contain more than twice the amount of protein than that in cauliflower.
2. It provides more than 3 times the fat compared to cauliflower.
3. It supplies almost double the amount of carbohydrate than cauliflower.
4. Cauliflower leaf is a richer source of dietary fiber.
5. The greens provide thrice the amount of minerals than that in cauliflower.
6. The leaves supply just double the calories than the cauliflower itself.
7. Cauliflower leaf is an exceptionally good source of calcium, providing 626mg of calcium /100g of fresh leaves which is around 19 folds than that provided by the cauliflower (i.e. 33mg /100g).
8. The greens supply almost double amount of phosphorus compared to cauliflower.
9. Cauliflower leaf is also a very rich source of iron, providing 40mg of iron /100g of fresh leaves which is around 32 folds than that provided by cauliflower (i.e. 1.23mg /100g).
So, next winter think twice before you ignore and throw these leaves out. Before cauliflower leaf becomes an expensive “superfood”, start making use of it. After all, it is free till now.
Not convinced till now? Well, not only nutritional benefits, the following health benefits may help you to change your mind.
What are the health benefits of cauliflower leaves?
Several clinical studies are carried out by many researchers on the health benefits of cauliflower leaves which are summarized below-
1. Daily intake of cauliflower leaves is very beneficial for undernourished children. This helps to increase their height, weight and hemoglobin level.
2. Since fresh cauliflower greens are good sources of minerals, they are helpful to prevent micro nutrient deficiency.
3. As cauliflower leaf is an excellent source of iron, it is able to prevent and treat anemia among children, adolescent girls, and women.
4. Regular intake of dried cauliflower leaf powder can efficiently improve the serum retinol level and thus is very useful to maintain eye health and prevent night blindness.
5. Since the cauliflower leaf is a very good source of different types of antioxidants, it can protect us against free radical damage and oxidative stress and thus help reduce the risk of chronic diseases by protecting against free radical damage.
6. The protein present in the cauliflower leaves can reduce the blood glucose level. So, the consumption of these leaves is beneficial for diabetic patients.
7. Cauliflower leaf powder (CLP) has anti-inflammatory properties.
But cauliflower/cauliflower leaves are seasonal… what to do?
You are right. You should always plan your menu as per the seasonal and local availability of foods. Cauliflower is a seasonal vegetable. So, the good quality fresh cauliflower greens are only abundantly available during the winter season. It is not available throughout the year. Another problem is that like other green leafy vegetables, cauliflower leaves contain a large amount of moisture and thus they go bad too soon. So, to ensure regular intake of this nutritious greens, you can dry the leaves (sun-dry/ shade-dry or roasting it on low flame), crush the dried leaves and make a powder and then store the powder in an air-tight container in a cool and dry place. Don’t worry, it’s not a very difficult task.
Cauliflower leaf powder (CLP) is ideal for –
CLP can be incorporated into any day-to-day recipe to improve the overall health and nutritional status of family members. It is especially good for –
1. Diabetics as it contains moderate carbohydrate with high protein and fiber content.
2. Cardiac patients as it is low fat, high fiber food.
3. Malnourished children as it is a rich source of protein and energy.
4. Vegetarians as it is a good plant source of energy and macro nutrients.
How to use cauliflower leaf powder?
The fresh leaves can be fried, or it can be used in the mixed vegetable curry during winter. Otherwise, the cauliflower leaf powder can be added to many day-to-day recipes like dal, masala paratha or chilla or roti or puri or body to increase the taste and nutritive value of the recipe.
So, time to introduce new recipes in your daily menu. Do not throw the cauliflower leaves as cattle feed. Before it becomes the next Indian “super food” and starts appearing in the shelves of high-end health stores with an exorbitant price tag, start taking cauliflower leaves seriously.
Cauliflower leaves are widely grown but rapidly perishable, neglected, highly nutritious green leafy vegetable which can be dried quickly and preserved for future use. Don’t forget that cauliflower leaves are nutritionally superior to cauliflower itself.
Fresh cauliflower leaves are low in calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat but high in micro nutrient content. Why not avail the several health benefits of cauliflower greens and improve the nutritional status of you and your family? Next time before purchasing some expensive micro nutrient supplements, give these greens a try.
Sagarika Chakraborty was awarded her doctorate in Food and Nutrition (Home Science) from University of Calcutta (C.U.) in 2017. She is an experienced Researcher, working in the field of Food Science for more than 12 years and published five (5) papers in four (4) international journals and 1 national journal. She has also presented papers in national conferences.
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