CFAES Give Today
News Releases Archive (Prior to 2011)

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Chow Line: Close, but broccoli beats cauliflower (for 11/27/11)

November 18, 2011

Do broccoli and cauliflower offer similar nutrients? My husband says they do, but I think he just doesn’t like broccoli. (I prefer broccoli over cauliflower, so I might be biased, too.)

Broccoli and cauliflower are both from the cabbage family, and so they do offer many of the same nutrients and chemical compounds, some of which help prevent some types of cancer. But you’ll be pleased to learn that broccoli does have an edge, nutrient-wise, over cauliflower.

That’s not to say that cauliflower is a slouch when it comes to nutrition. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, a half-cup of cooked (boiled) cauliflower contains just 14 calories, plus:

  • Nearly 30 milligrams of vitamin C. (Men should get 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day; women, 75.)
  • Nearly 1.5 grams of fiber. (Adults should get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed over the course of a day.)
  • Nearly 9 micrograms of vitamin K. (Men should get 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day; women, 90.)
  • More than 27 micrograms of folate, a B vitamin. (Both men and women need 400 micrograms of folate per day.)

The same amount of boiled chopped broccoli contains 27 calories, and:

  • More than 50 milligrams of vitamin C.
  • More than 2.5 grams of fiber.
  • A whopping 110 micrograms of vitamin K.
  • More than 84 micrograms of folate.
  • Abut 60 micrograms of vitamin A (Men should get 900 micrograms per day; women, 700.)
  • Nearly 230 milligrams of potassium. (Men and women should get 4,700 milligrams a day.)

Both cauliflower and broccoli contain smaller amounts of many other nutrients, including  manganese, phosphorus, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and even some protein. If you steam the vegetables instead of boiling them, you can boost the amount of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins, which are water-soluble and end up in the cooking water when boiled.

Other tips:

  • Cook broccoli only until it’s bright green. If it’s cooked longer, until it’s dull green, you’ll notice a strong sulfur odor.
  • For whiter cauliflower, add a tablespoon of milk or lemon juice to the water. And, avoid cooking cauliflower in aluminum or iron cookware; compounds in cauliflower will react with aluminum and turn the vegetable yellow; they’ll react with iron and turn it brown or blue-green.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Hugo Melgar-Quinonez, food security specialist for Ohio State University Extension and associate professor in human nutrition for the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Martha Filipic
Hugo Melgar-Quinonez