Broccoli vs Cauliflower: Which is Healthier?

Zoomi Singh

October 12, 2022

Cruciferous vegetables are a leafy group of veggies that are very healthy to consume. Cauliflower and broccoli are two popular cruciferous vegetables. Both are foods that you should include in a well-balanced diet. They belong to the same plant family, Brassicaceae.

These vegetables are related but not identical. They both have their own set of health benefits. Besides their visible colour differences, broccoli and cauliflower have different nutritional values. 

Nutritional Differences

Broccoli contains more calories than cauliflowers. Additionally, it is rich in folate. Cauliflowers are suitable for people trying to lose weight because of their low-calorie content. Although both the vegetables are high in manganese, broccoli has a higher manganese level. It improves bone density. Broccolis are therefore better suited for people with weak bones and arthritis.

Broccoli is high in vitamins A, C, and K, making it an excellent vegetable for a well-balanced diet. Cauliflower does not contain vitamin A and has a lower vitamin K and C content than broccoli. Vitamin A is vital for strong vision, and vitamin C is good for improved skin and heart health. Moreover, vitamin C has antioxidant properties that help the body get rid of free radicals. Vitamin K is required for normal blood clotting and strong bones.

Broccolis have lower saturated fatty acids and higher polyunsaturated fatty acids. As a result, these foods are high in dietary fibres, which keeps the body full for longer. Additionally, it helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Broccoli and cauliflower, on the other hand, are abundant in protein. As a result, taking them on a regular basis may help enhance metabolism.

Broccoli and cauliflower both contain calcium, which helps build and maintain healthy bones. Additionally, it aids in muscular contraction and blood coagulation. One cup of broccoli provides 4% of the daily calcium requirement of the human body. Cauliflower contains half of this amount.

If we look at the nutritional values, broccoli is a better source of nutrients than cauliflower. However, both vegetables contain almost the same nutrients. 

Health Benefits

Benefits of Broccoli and Cauliflower- HealthifyMe

1. Contain Antioxidants

As per studies, antioxidants help mitigate cell damage, inflammation and protect against chronic diseases. Both vegetables have high antioxidant properties. For example, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, two sulfur-rich antioxidants, both are present in broccoli and cauliflower.

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and sulforaphane provide anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-estrogenic qualities. Indole-3-carbinol is also used to treat fibromyalgia, virus-induced tumours of the voice box (laryngeal papillomatosis). It is also suitable for virus-induced tumours of the respiratory tract (respiratory papillomatosis). In addition, it treats irregular cell formation in the cervix (cervical dysplasia) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Additionally, indole-3-carbinol boosts the immune system, regulates hormone levels, and detoxifies the intestines and liver. 

Broccolis are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants beneficial for eye health. It aids in protecting the eyes from damaging UV rays in the sun. They are suitable for vision in the dark or places with a lot of glare. 

As per studies, protocatechuic acid and quercetin are cell-cleaning antioxidants. Cauliflower is a good source of them. As a result, they help keep the blood vessels and arteries flexible and healthy. In addition, they ensure better blood circulation. They also cause the body to produce more insulin. Insulin is a hormone that directs the body to respond to blood sugar to release energy. 

Insulin resistance is a problem that occurs when the body fails to respond effectively to insulin and doesn’t absorb blood sugar properly. It leads to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. Additionally, it helps the immune system tackle infection and disease. Polyphenols also stimulate the development of good bacteria in our stomach while inhibiting the growth of dangerous bacteria. 

2. Prevents Cancer

Free radicals are unstable molecules present in our bodies. Due to their highly reactive nature, they trigger oxidative stress inside the cells. Oxidative stress is harmful to the body as it damages the essential parts of cells, including DNA, cell proteins and cell membranes. This damage further contributes to cancer formation. However, the presence of antioxidants stabilises the molecules of free radicals and prevents any potential damage to the cells. 

Broccoli and cauliflower both have a high concentration of antioxidants. In addition, research suggests that eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower regularly may reduce the risk of some cancers.

Broccoli and Cauliflowers also include Vitamin C. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is famous as a supplement along with medications for cancer. 

3. Improves Heart Health

Studies have found that cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are good for heart health. These vegetables are rich in fibre, which lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels. When your blood cholesterol levels are too high, it accumulates in the walls of arteries, initiating atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease. As a result, this narrows the blood vessels and obstructs the normal flow of blood. 

Blood carries oxygen with it to the heart. The delayed and blocked blood flow leads to a shortage of sufficient oxygen supply and results in chaste pain. When the accumulated cholesterol completely clogs the arteries, it leads to a heart attack. Inflammation in the arteries can further lead to plaque buildup. Consequently, this blocks the blood passage and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. 

These vegetables also contain sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. As per studies, broccoli can help prevent oxidation and inflammation in the arteries. 

4. Improves Gut Health

Studies have found that broccoli lowers inflammation in the colon and reduces the risk of colon cancer. In addition, broccoli works to treat leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition where the intestinal barrier breaks, allowing toxins and microbes to enter the gut and making it tough for the gut to absorb nutrition. 

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is essential in regulating gut barrier function. When the gut comes in contact with toxins, this receptor works to maintain the gut’s response to environmental pollutants by triggering a reaction. For example, the indole glucosinolates in broccoli further break down in the stomach as indolocarbazole (ICZ). ICZ sticks to and stimulates AHR on the intestine lining. As a result, it boosts the immune system and promotes gut flora balance. The said phenomena protect the body from certain types of cancer and Crohn’s disease, a disorder related to bowel movement. 

Due to sulfur-rich content, cauliflower may help to improve gut health. A healthy gut keeps harmful microbes and toxins away. Therefore, it further leads to a healthy immune system. As a result, sulfur promotes the formation of glutathione, which is necessary for the preservation and regeneration of the gut lining. In addition, glutathione possesses antioxidant properties that protect cells from inflammatory damage.

5. Other Benefits

  • Broccoli and cauliflower make a wide range of dishes. Both of them are consumed raw, steamed, sautéed, grilled, or roasted. Additionally, cauliflower substitutes specific grains to make low-carb pizza crusts, rice meals, veggie blends, tortillas, and pasta.
  • Broccolis are helpful for healthy skin. Antioxidants promote skin health and assist in slowing down the ageing process. Vitamin C in broccoli helps collagen formation, resulting in younger-looking skin. Additionally, broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane. They help in skin restoration and enhance overall skin health. As a result, broccoli helps to regenerate the skin faster and gives a natural glow.
  • Cauliflower contains beta-carotene, which is beneficial for healthy hair. Conversely, hair breakage and thinning can be because of a lack of beta-carotene. Consuming cauliflower, therefore, promotes hair regrowth on the scalp.

Possible Side Effects

Cauliflower and broccoli consumption might have a few unfavourable side effects, especially if you consume them in large quantities. Both are rich in Vitamin K. Vitamin K promotes the blood to clot. Consuming high levels of it can cause issues for people who use blood thinners. Anyone on blood-thinning medicine, such as Coumadin or warfarin should avoid eating high amounts of vitamin K-rich foods all of a sudden.

Raffinose, a carbohydrate, is found in broccoli and cauliflower. Our bodies lack the enzyme needed to break it down. When you consume raffinose food, it passes through the small intestine and into the large intestine. On reaching the large intestine, the bacteria ferment it, resulting in bloating and gas.


Although both vegetables are low in calories and high in minerals, including folate, manganese, fibre, protein, and vitamins, they are not the same. In addition, the variation in nutrient content and cultivation methods significantly differentiates these two crops. Still, both vegetables can form a valuable and nutritious part of a well-balanced diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Which is healthier: cauliflower or broccoli?

A: Both the vegetables belong to the same plant family. Therefore, they contain almost the same nutrients. Yet, broccoli contains these nutrients in a more significant amount than cauliflower. As a result, eating the same quantity of broccoli as cauliflower, broccoli will provide the body with more nutrients.

Q: How is broccoli different from cauliflower?

A: Broccoli and cauliflower are distinguishable by their colour. Broccoli is green, and cauliflower is white. Broccoli has more calories, protein, lipids, and carbs than cauliflower. 

On the other hand, cauliflower has more sugars, and broccoli has more dietary fibre. Broccoli has more vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, K, A, and C, as well as calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. On the other hand, cauliflower has a lower sodium content and a higher choline content.

Q: Which is better for weight loss: cauliflower or broccoli?

A: Broccoli contains more calories than cauliflower. Cauliflower is suitable for anyone trying to reduce weight due to its low-calorie level. Cauliflowers have only 25 calories per cup, allowing consumption of large quantities without gaining weight. In addition, cauliflower’s high fibre content aids digestion and helps feel full. Therefore, this can limit the number of calories one consumes daily, essential for weight loss.

Q: What has more nutritional value, broccoli or cauliflower?

A: Although the nutrients are the same, broccoli is more nutritious than cauliflower. It is primarily because of the nutritional quantities that broccoli contains.

Q: Why cauliflower is bad for you?

A: If consumed in excess, all cruciferous vegetables cause stomach problems. Overeating cauliflower can cause bloating and issues with the proper digestion of food. However, this is because of the high fibre content of the vegetable. It also irritates the stomach. Moreover, attributed to its high vitamin K content, it also enhances blood clotting. In addition, this can trouble people taking blood thinners. 

Q: Can I substitute cauliflower for broccoli?

A: Given their similar nutritional content and texture, they substitute each other. Consumption of broccoli has the added advantage because it contains a higher amount of every nutrient than cauliflower. The only problem can be taste preference.

Q: Is cauliflower a superfood?

A: Cauliflower is a superfood because of the multiple health benefits it has to offer. It is rich in essential nutrients needed for the body’s healthy functioning. In addition, it has antioxidants, prevents the growth of harmful free radicals, is good for the skin, detoxifies the body and is also suitable for gut health. 

Q: Is broccoli the healthiest vegetable?

A: Broccoli is very healthy food. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is a good source of protein, vitamin E, and thiamin. There is an abundance of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. Additionally, it is a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, potassium, and manganese.

Q: Why do bodybuilders eat cauliflower?

A: Cauliflowers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids necessary for muscle growth. Omega-3 fatty acids promote protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is essential for converting the protein consumed into the fuel needed by the muscles to grow and strengthen. 

Q: Does cauliflower have more protein than broccoli?

A: Broccoli contains more protein than cauliflower. One hundred grams of cauliflower contains 1.92gm of proteins. The exact amount of broccoli contains approximately 2.82 grams of proteins.

Q: Is cauliflower high in carbohydrates?

A: Cauliflowers contain very low amounts of carbohydrates. Therefore, it is an excellent addition to your weight loss diet. 

Q: Is broccoli Keto-friendly?

A: The cruciferous vegetable broccoli is a non-starchy food that does not make you gain significant weight. It is also high in fibre and low in carbs, making it an ideal keto diet.

About the Author

Zoomi, holds Masters degree in Nutritional Sciences from University of Allahabad, qualified CBSE-UGC-NET in Home Science and pursuing PhD in Nutritional Sciences, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. A Strong research professional focused in Nutritional Sciences where she have more than 8 yrs of work experience in the field of Nutrition and Research, had work experience as a Dietician at Super-specialty hospitals. Skilled in Weight Management, Hypertension, Diabetes and Micronutrient related deficiencies. Additionally, she is well-versed in biostatistics and proficient in statistical tools such as SPSS and STATA. She is endowed with strong writing abilities and has authored her own book, more than six research papers, and six book chapters. Holder of various awards like Excellent Dietician, 2019 and 2020 by Saksham Society, Jaipur, Rajasthan, Academic Excellence at National Conference by Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University, Jaipur (Rajasthan), India and Research Achievement Award-2020 for Research & Innovation by ACAIRS Global Network Pvt. Ltd. Life Member of Nutrition Society of India, NIN, Hyderabad and participated and presented papers in four International and six National conferences. Zoomi believes the right habits play the most crucial role in one’s health and wellness journey. The key to fit body is a fit mind and mental state.

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