Both cauliflower and broccoli are great sources of nutrition.
In a nutritional showdown between broccoli and cauliflower, which vegetable is healthier?
Both veggies are nutritional powerhouses, says Angie Kuhn, a registered dietitian nutritionist who is director of research and nutrition for Persona Nutrition. She’s based in Seattle.
“Both are really strong when it comes to nutritional content,” Kuhn says. “They’re both high in nutrients and low in calories.”
It stands to reason that broccoli and cauliflower provide similar nutritional benefits, because both are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, Kuhn says.
Cruciferous vegetables include:
While broccoli and cauliflower have similar nutritional profiles, there are differences.
Here are nine ways that broccoli and cauliflower compare when it comes to nutrition:
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Many people know that blueberries and dark chocolate are good sources of antioxidants – natural substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which research suggests play a role in chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
It may be less well-known that broccoli and cauliflower are also good sources of antioxidants and help fight inflammation, says Margaret Mangan, a registered dietitian with UNC REX Nutrition Services and Diabetic Education Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. UNC REX is a not-for-profit health care system and a member of UNC Health Care.
Both veggies are good sources of an array of nutrients, but “what really makes these vegetables all-stars are their antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties,” Mangan says.
Broccoli and cauliflower both contain modest amounts of calcium, which helps your body build and maintain bone strength. Calcium also helps muscles contract properly and promotes normal blood clotting.
A cup of raw broccoli has 4% of the recommended daily amount of calcium for adults. The same amount of cauliflower has half that amount.
If you’re trying to lose weight or eat more vegetables, either broccoli or cauliflower is a good choice to put on your plate, says Helen Kollias, director of science for Precision Nutrition. She’s based in Toronto. The company provides nutrition education and tools to health and fitness professionals and individuals in 120 countries.
A cup of raw broccoli or raw cauliflower is 3.5 ounces. A cup of broccoli has 34 calories, while 1 cup of raw cauliflower contains 24 calories.
“For context, the average plain bagel is 4 to 4.5 inches in diameter, weighs about 100 grams and has 257 calories,” Kollias says.
Broccoli contains a significant amount of vitamin A, which is important for eye health and your immune system. The vitamin also supports the proper function of your heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
Raw cauliflower has no vitamin A. Cooked cauliflower contains a small amount of the vitamin. For context, a medium-size raw carrot has 509 micrograms of vitamin A, while a cup of cooked cauliflower contains about 1.5 micrograms of the vitamin.
Vitamin B is actually a collection of eight B vitamins.
- Vitamin B1.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
- Vitamin B3 (niacin).
- Vitamin B5.
- Vitamin B6.
- Vitamin B7.
- Vitamin B9 (folate).
- Vitamin B12.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin B9, or folate, which helps your body make red and white blood cells and convert carbs into energy. “One cup of raw broccoli packs about 14% of the recommended dietary intake for folate,” says Erika Fox, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Los Angeles. She’s the community manager at 310 Nutrition, which sells dietary and health products including meal replacement shakes, teas, nutritional supplements and gym accessories.
Cauliflower also has folate, as well as vitamin B6, which helps keep the nervous and immune systems healthy. It’s important for brain development, too. One cup of raw cauliflower provides about 10% of your recommended dietary intake of folate and vitamin B6, Fox says.
If you want to meet your recommended daily amount of vitamin C, broccoli gets the nod over cauliflower. Vitamin C is important for skin and heart health, and research suggests it could be helpful in warding off cancer, Mangan says.
There are more than 89 milligrams of vitamin C in about 1 cup of raw broccoli. The same amount of raw cauliflower contains 48 milligrams of the vitamin. The recommended daily allowances for vitamin C for adults are 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.
“Without a doubt, broccoli is the better choice for vitamin C, compared to cauliflower,” Mangan says. “Vitamin C is found in colorful fruits and vegetables, and broccoli is near the top of this list, whereas cauliflower has much less.”
There’s not much vitamin D in either broccoli or cauliflower.
“Vitamin D is difficult to get from food, unless it’s fortified,” Kuhn says.
Broccoli, however, has much more of the vitamin, Kollias says. One hundred grams of broccoli provides 127% of your recommended daily value of vitamin K, while the same amount of cauliflower provides 20% of the recommended amount.
“When it comes to vitamin K, broccoli wins hands down,” she says.
Both broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of fiber – but broccoli is a little better.
A cup of raw broccoli has 2.4 grams of fiber, while 1 cup of raw cauliflower has 2.1 grams.
“Both vegetables provide fiber benefits,” Kuhn says.
Nutritionally, broccoli gets the nod – but cauliflower is good too.
Broccoli and cauliflower contain many of the same nutrients, but broccoli has more of them, Kuhn says.
“Overall, that makes it a healthier choice,” Kuhn says.
However, cauliflower is also a healthy veggie that’s low in calories, high in fiber and packed with nutrients. “You can’t go wrong with either broccoli or cauliflower,” she says.