Kidney Diet Tips

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Food Facts Friday: Cauliflower

Perhaps best known as the broccoli look-alike on raw vegetable platters, cauliflower is a more versatile vegetable than you may think. Because of its neutral color and mild flavor, this cruciferous vegetable is used in recipes including sauce, riced cauliflower, mock mashed potatoes or simply cooked as a side dish. Additionally, cauliflower boasts various health benefits. Keep reading to learn about this nutrition power-house and ideas for incorporating it into your diet.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower provides the following health benefits (1):

Immune support: Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, which can help to support immune health and wound healing.

Blood clotting and bone health: Along with vitamin C, cauliflower is also high in vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and building healthy bones.

Healthy blood cells: In addition to iron, your body needs folate and vitamin B6 to produce red blood cells. Cauliflower is a good source of both of these B vitamins.

Fiber: Fiber helps promote bowel regularity and blood sugar control, but eating enough fiber on a kidney diet can be challenging due to potassium and phosphorus restrictions. Daily fiber recommendations are 21 to 24 grams per day for women and 30 to 38 grams per day for men (2). With 3 g of fiber per 1 cup serving, cauliflower is a great option to add fiber to a renal diet since it is low in both potassium and phosphorus.

Antioxidants: Along with other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower contains multiple antioxidants: glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, carotenoids and flavonoids. These help reduce inflammation and have been shown to reduce the risk of multiple cancers.

Low in potassium and phosphorus: A half-cup serving of cauliflower contains 164 mg potassium and 24 mg phosphorus, making it a good vegetable option if you are limiting these nutrients (3).

Purchase Options

You can buy raw cauliflower in the produce section as a full head or florets. Your grocery store may also offer fresh riced cauliflower.

Frozen cauliflower provides the same nutrition as fresh and has a longer shelf life. Microwavable bags of frozen cauliflower can be a quick side dish or used in various cooked recipes.

If you are considering trying frozen cauliflower products such as mashed cauliflower, cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower gnocchi, etc., be sure to check the food label for potassium content and phosphorus additives before purchasing.

Cauliflower Serving Ideas

In addition to eating it raw, you can cook cauliflower and use it in various recipes. Check out the recipe ideas below from DaVita.com.

Fresh: Dip fresh cauliflower florets in this Easy Salt-Free Seasoning Dip or Lemon Pepper Hummus, or add to a salad for extra crunch.

Roasted: Toss cauliflower in butter or oil, vinegar, and spices or herbs, and roast for a crispy side dish such as this Roasted Cauliflower with Rosemary.

Steamed or boiled: This cooking method will lend a softer texture. Add herbs, spices and butter or oil for flavor. If you like garlic, try Cauliflower with Garlic Sauce, or if you prefer a cheesier side dish, try this Creamy Cauliflower or Baked Cauliflower and Broccoli Mac and Cheese.

Sauté: Sautéed cauliflower can stand alone as a side dish or be incorporated into a stir-fry or this Pasta with Cauliflower.

Riced: Throw cauliflower in a food processor or use a grater to create Cauliflower Rice. You can also sauté it and use it as a side dish. However, keep in mind that it is not a replacement for rice since it doesn’t have the same carbohydrate content or flavor. Rather, cauliflower rice is another way to enjoy this vegetable.

Puréed or mashed: Steam or boil cauliflower and purée with a blender to make a Creamy Cauliflower Sauce or Almost Mashed Potatoes.

No matter how you decide to prepare your cauliflower, this vegetable is a delicious way to add more nutrition to your diet.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/should-i-be-eating-more-fiber-2019022115927
  3. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103345/nutrients

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Talia Follador, RDN, LDN

Talia Follador, RDN, LDN

Talia Follador, RDN, LDN has been a dietitian for three years and has worked in retail, long-term care, eating disorders and behavioral health, and now dialysis. She is a Philadelphia-based dietitian who loves to try new restaurants and foods, watch baseball, tap dance, and bake. Talia aims to dispel nutrition misinformation and provide nutrition education that is realistic, compassionate, and guilt-free.