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Broccoli vs. Cauliflower: Which One Is Healthier?

If versatility was the defining factor in a head-to-head comparison of broccoli and cauliflower, the pale white cruciferous vegetable would be the clear winner. After all, cauliflower has expanded well beyond just the produce section in the grocery store to make its way into a variety of surprising places: pre-made pizza crust, to-go oatmeal cups and various types of “rice” (here’s how to make cauliflower rice at home).

But which cruciferous veggie is actually going into our carts and onto our dinner plates? And which one should we be stocking up on regularly? In two informal surveys (on Instagram and with my kids), broccoli reigns supreme. Broccoli is also more Googled than cauliflower. But which one is better for you? Here’s how they stack up nutritionally.

Getty Images / Hüseyin Günerergin / EyeEm

Is broccoli or cauliflower more nutritious?

Here’s what’s in 1 cup of raw broccoli:

  • Calories: 30
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrate: 6g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sodium: 29mg

You get more than a day’s worth of vitamins C and K in a 1-cup serving. There’s also a healthy amount of vitamin A, folate and manganese (all more than 10% of your daily value).

Here’s what’s in 1 cup of raw cauliflower:

  • Calories: 27
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrate: 5g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sodium: 32mg

There’s about the same amount of folate in cauliflower and broccoli. When it comes to vitamins A, C and K, cauliflower comes up short compared to broccoli: It has very little vitamin A, and a 1-cup serving of cauliflower only has about three-quarters of your daily vitamin C needs and 20% of your vitamin K recommendation.

But cauliflower does have a tiny bit more potassium than broccoli. And it truly deserves its low-carb crown, with just 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup (that’s slightly less than broccoli).

If this feels like splitting hairs, it sort of is—both veggies are low in carbohydrate and even for someone with, say, diabetes, choosing one vegetable over the other wouldn’t make much of a difference. But if you’re on the keto diet, a very low-carb way of eating, cauliflower might be the smarter veg.

Should I buy broccoli or cauliflower?

Both broccoli and cauliflower are members of the cruciferous vegetable family. Much of the research looks at that family as a whole unit, and doesn’t drill down to compare its various family members. All include health-promoting compounds (namely isothiocyanates) that may protect against various types of cancer and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other benefits.

One study did look at the amount of a certain health-promoting compound (the glucosinolate count) in broccoli versus cauliflower and other crucifers, and found very little difference between broccoli and cauliflower. So, much like carb count, we’re splitting hairs here, too.

The upshot is that there are quite a few incredible health benefits to eating cruciferous vegetables regularly. Research shows broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers; may help keep our arteries more flexible and improve blood pressure; and potentially protect us against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Let’s recap—broccoli vs. cauliflower

Popularity: Broccoli

Versatility: Cauliflower

Cost: Tie

Vitamins: Broccoli

Low-Carb: Cauliflower

Overall nutrition: Tie

Who is our winner? Skip the drum roll, because it’s a tie. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your taste buds. Plus, we know that eating a variety of foods is important for overall health—so it would be silly to pick just one vegetable here, even if there was a more clear winner.

Cauliflower is delicious as its own side dish, or even as a “steak.” It can step in for rice, gnocchi and pizza crust, which makes it a good choice if you’re looking to cut back on carbs. It also blends into oatmeal and smoothies for a barely noticeable boost of vitamins and minerals (try it in our Berry-Banana Cauliflower Smoothie).

Broccoli is slightly less versatile, but is a great addition to egg dishes, casseroles and pasta salads. It makes for a delicious base to soup or salad, and, of course, is incredibly tasty on its own.

If you can’t decide, grab yourself one of those bags of florets that has a 50/50 split of cauliflower and broccoli. Both can be roasted, steamed, blanched, eaten raw or added to soup or a stir-fry.


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