The Benefits of Eating Cauliflower During Pregnancy

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Cauliflower has become a trendy food recently since the vegetable has been consumed in newer more exciting ways such as cauliflower pizza, cauliflower “buffalo” wings and cauliflower rice. But before you decide to order a cauliflower pizza to satisfy your pizza cravings, what are the benefits of eating cauliflower during pregnancy?

Cauliflower is a nutritious vegetable high in Vitamin C and folate which are very important during pregnancy. This low-calorie veggie is versatile enough to enjoy in a wide variety of dishes which makes it a handy way to consume important vitamins during pregnancy. 

Read on and I’ll walk you through the benefits of cauliflower and how to prepare it to get the most out of this veggie during pregnancy.

Why Cauliflower is Good for Pregnant Women

Cauliflower is a low-calorie vegetable with only 23 calories per 100 grams and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. 

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C with 74% of the recommended daily amount in a 100-gram serving (source: Nutritionix). For comparison, the same amount of orange juice contains 83% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C!

Therefore if you find orange juice and citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits or limes too difficult to stomach during pregnancy then cauliflower is a much more palatable choice – and with much less sugar, too.  

Vitamin C is important at any stage of pregnancy. In particular, during the third trimester, levels tend to be lower during this stage of pregnancy than in the first two trimesters due to physiological changes. Vitamin C deficiency can be also associated with some pregnancy complications, so it’s important to get enough in your diet (source: IJPM.)

Some studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce the risk of premature births, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, premature rupture of placental membranes, and more. It is also responsible for enhancing iron absorption, which is integral for fetal grown and pregnancy maintenance (source: IJPM). 

fresh raw cauliflower

Cauliflower also contains small amounts of vitamin A. It only contains 0.2% of the RDA in a 100-gram serving, but every little counts! A portion of cauliflower this size will also provide 1.2% of your daily dose of calcium and 1.8% of normal daily iron requirements (source: Nutritonix). 

100 grams of cauliflower contains 11% of the recommended daily amount of folate (source: Nutrition Data). Folate (aka vitamin B9)  is one of the most important vitamins during pregnancy, and even before falling pregnant.

It is important for grown and development of the fetus, while deficiencies have been linked to anemia and peripheral neuropathy in mothers and congenital abnormalities in the fetus, as well as premature birth (source: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Cauliflower also contains trace amounts of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pathogenic acid, zinc, and selenium (source: Nutrition Data).

A 100-gram serving of cauliflower also contains 17% of your daily dose of vitamin K (source: Nutrition Data). Vitamin K deficiency is crucial to avoid during pregnancy, due to the way it helps your blood clot (source: Nature Research). 

All in all, cauliflower is a low calorie, nutrient-packed veggie that is a great idea to eat during pregnancy. All you have to do is prepare it properly, so we’ll cover any safety considerations below.

cooked grilled cauliflower

Is It Safe to Eat Cauliflower When Pregnant?

Cauliflower and other cruciferous plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale are safe for human consumption, including during pregnancy, unless you have allergies or hypersensitivity to those plants – or take warfarin (source: Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology).

However, like all vegetables, cauliflower is prone to contamination. Buy cauliflower that is as fresh as possible and cut away any bruised or damaged areas. Rinse under running water for at least 30 seconds. It’s best to give vegetables another rinse again after cutting them. 

Cauliflower is a high FODMAP food which means people with irritable bowel syndrome or similar conditions are prone to cramps and gas when eating certain kinds of carbohydrates. The fiber content in cauliflower can also trigger gas (source: World Journal Of Gastroenterology).

Low FODMAP vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes may be more suitable if cauliflower upsets your stomach. 

Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw Cauliflower?

It is relatively safe to eat raw cauliflower if it has been washed properly. For more on washing veggies during pregnancy, you can read our produce prep guide. Cauliflower is often sprayed with pesticides and sometimes contains little bugs hidden in the florets – two good reasons to give it a good wash!

Bear in mind that digestive discomfort is common in pregnancy which is why cooked, rather than raw cauliflower will likely be easier on your digestive system. 

baked cauliflower cheese

Cauliflower Dishes and Pregnancy Safety

Cauliflower appears in many popular dishes these days, so here’s a guide to eating them when you’re pregnant:

Cauliflower cheese is generally safe but it depends on the kind of cheese that you intend to use. Hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan that appear in most cauliflower cheese recipes are safe.

Feta, brie, gorgonzola, camembert, queso fresco and Roquefort are not advisable to eat during pregnancy as they can be made from unpasteurized milk (source: USDHHS).

Listeria bacteria are killed when heating all cheeses, so if you’re eating hot/melted cauliflower cheese, then it should be fine. Gouda and swiss are also safe “hard cheeses” while feta, halloumi and mozzarella are safe if they’re made with pasteurized milk. Read more about cheese safety during pregnancy here

Cauliflower pizza is made with a cauliflower crust instead of a flour pizza base, which is safe to eat as long as the pizza toppings are pregnancy safe.

With pizza, it’s not the base, but the topping that you need to check when you’re pregnant. As long as the cheese, meat and veggies are cooked properly then cauliflower pizza is safe. For more on this, check out our pizza during pregnancy guide.

Cauliflower rice is grated cauliflower, which can be both cooked or uncooked. It’s great for light meals if you’re finding that regular rice is too heavy and is a handy way to eat some more veggies.

It’s best to cook the rice or fry it and season it with spices – most of which are safe in food (source: American Pregnancy Association). My favorite way of preparing it is to blitz it for two minutes in the microwave with some Pilau seasoning stirred in.

Overall, cauliflower is beneficial during pregnancy due to its high vitamin C and folate content, and it can be incorporated into countless dishes for an extra nutritional boost. If you aren’t allergic to it and don’t have digestive issues, it can also be eaten raw in salads or used for dips. Enjoy your cauliflower!