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Kristine Mahan / Spoon

Cauliflower is Overrated

Cauliflower has been the internet’s sexiest “health” trend in recent years, receiving the royal treatment right alongside kale and mushrooms. Don’t get me wrong—cauliflower can be delicious. However, chefs, dieticians and Pinterest bloggers are trying to turn this vegetable into something it isn’t—pizza crusts, mashed potatoes, wings and the infamous cauli-rice.

Yes, this cruciferous vegetable does have several health benefits. One cup of cauliflower has 100% of your daily Vitamin C and about 25% of your Vitamin K. It is also a good source of fiber and water, which will keep you hydrated and “regular.” If you like cauliflower, then you should eat it! However, this veggie isn’t as amazing as the health food industry wants you to believe. Here are a few things to consider about the cauli-craze.

False Marketing and Gluten Fears

Packaged replacement products made of cauliflower are often marketed to be low in carbohydrates. However, many of these items are held together by binders such as cassava flour or rice flour. These products have just as many carbs as their wheat equivalents, and the price tag can be outrageous. Cauliflower pretzels (such as these) don’t even have the vegetable as the first ingredient, so it’s not like you’re eating a salad when munching on them.

These cauli-substitutes are a good option if you’re gluten-free, but there is no real reason to avoid gluten if you aren’t intolerant or have Celiac disease. Cutting out gluten to be “healthier” has definitely emerged as another trend. This choice can lead to nutritional deficiencies, and it can cause you to build a sensitivity to gluten that you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you like regular pretzels and don’t genuinely need to avoid gluten, save some money and just buy the wheat ones. 

Cauliflower Won't Fill the Void

Some cauliflower products are naturally low in carbohydrates if they are mostly made of the actual vegetable. Does that mean that they are inherently better? Probably not. The USDA recommends that humans should consume 45-65% of their daily calories through carbs. The ideal macronutrient breakdown varies for everyone, but carbs are still the body’s main energy source. Modern diet culture tries to convince us that we can survive off of vegetables and protein alone, but that’s an unsustainable (and boring) way to live. 

Cauli-rice is the substitute that sparked the “cauliflower revolution.” If you can’t seem to fit enough vegetables into your day, then adding some riced cauliflower to your meal may be a useful way to sneak some more in. However, it isn’t going to keep you full and give you the same energy as “real” rice. While I sometimes crave a cauliflower steak, I know that it doesn’t provide me with adequate protein to fuel my endeavors. Cauliflower should be an addition to your meal, rather than just a replacement.


Choose What Will Actually Satisfy You

If you’re craving pizza, a cauliflower crust probably won’t satisfy that desire. Your experience will likely leave you a bit disappointed, wishing you could just eat the regular pizza. There is no shame in enjoying the traditional versions of foods that haven’t been modified by diet culture. It can be fun to try a new veggie-packed recipe from Pinterest, but there shouldn’t be pressure to remove those foods you love. Eat the cauliflower if you like it, but don’t treat it like royalty, and don’t judge those who would rather just eat the rice.

Abigail "Abby" Reasor is a senior at VCU. She is majoring in public relations and minoring in French. She loves to talk about Disney World and vegan food.
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