The Increased Use of Cauliflower In Baby Food
Summary: Cauliflower is an increasingly popular ingredient in all sorts of different baby foods. Before you try incorporating delicious and nutritious cauliflower into your baby's diet, however, you should learn as much as possible about this intriguing vegetable.
Even if you aren't a huge fan of cauliflower, your kids will love eating this vegetable in its baked or pureed form. There are plenty of benefits of eating cauliflower, and this vegetable can help ensure that your kids will grow up big and strong. However, there are also some avoidable dangers that you should keep in mind as you start serving cauliflower to your babies and toddlers, and since it's becoming so trendy to give this vegetable to kids, you should become aware of these potential pitfalls as early as possible.
Benefits of Cauliflower in Baby Food
Even though cauliflower might not look like much in comparison to other vegetables since it's white as snow, this unassuming food is filled with tons of nutrients that your kids need to stay healthy. Here are some of the benefits of eating cauliflower for people of any age:
Cauliflower contains an incredible amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Among other functions, vitamin C contributes to collagen production throughout your body, and collagen is the primary component in joints. When your joints are healthy, your bones are protected from damage, and this remains the case no matter what age you are. Cauliflower also contains vitamin K, which some scientists believe contributes to bone growth. Some researchers even go so far as to postulate that vitamin K2, which is a particular form of vitamin K, can reverse tooth decay.
Ideally, babies wouldn't have any toxins in their bodies, but it's unfortunately easy for babies to pick up toxins both in the womb and after they're born. However, cauliflower contains a substance called indole-3-carbinol, which is a type of phytonutrient. According to scientific research, indole-3-carbinol helps the liver detoxify your body, and this substance can also remove any toxins that have accumulated in your baby's liver.
Blood Pressure Aid
While high blood pressure isn't usually an issue in children, you can provide your little ones with a leg up in circulatory health by feeding them cauliflower from a young age.
Cauliflower contains choline, which is a common substance in vegetables. This substance helps improve the health of your digestive system, which in turn boosts your immune system. Cauliflower also contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body stave off the risk of infection.
Reduces Cancer Risk
The indole-3-carbinol in cauliflower pairs with another substance called sulforaphane to impart anti-inflammatory benefits throughout your body. Some scientists believe that inflammation is the root cause of all types of disease, and whatever the case may be, it's clear that protecting your tissues from inflammation defends your DNA from damage. These substances may also help deactivate carcinogens, which are the nefarious substances that can sometimes lead to the development of cancer.
Potential Dangers of Cauliflower for Babies
Even though cauliflower has all of these health benefits, it can still be dangerous if you pick the wrong vegetable off the shelf or you feed cauliflower to your little ones at the wrong time. Here are some of the dangers that this vegetable can pose:
Feeding Cauliflower Too Soon
While organic cauliflower is a great food to feed your kids once they're ready for it, you probably shouldn't feed them this vegetable as you're introducing your baby to solid food. Your baby's developing digestive system won't be ready to handle foods like cauliflower until it has matured to a significant degree, and feeding this vegetable to your kids before they are 8-10 months old is probably a bad idea. If cauliflower makes your baby gassy or constipated, you should stop feeding him or her this vegetable and try again in a few months. Once your baby's ready for it, however, cauliflower can be a great finger food.
Residual Pesticides and GMOs
Even though cauliflower isn't counted among the "dirty dozen" foods that have the most residual pesticides in them, it's still best to pick cauliflower that local farmers grew with organic agricultural practices. If your baby or toddler eats cauliflower that has residual pesticides in it, they could have developmental issues and become more prone to disease. Even when you're selecting from among different organic cauliflower heads, you should always prefer heads that have more leaves. These leaves wrap around the body of the cauliflower, and they provide protection from mold and bruising.
Like many other vegetables, cauliflower can sometimes contain high levels of dangerous heavy metals. While heavy metals are a natural part of the environment, unsafe manufacturing processes also produce these heavy metals, and they soak into vegetables through their roots. It's hard to find cauliflower heads that are completely uncontaminated with heavy metals, but selecting organic vegetables is a good place to start.
Best Ways to Prepare Cauliflower for Your Little Ones
In general, you should use preparation methods that preserve the nutritional content of cauliflower. While steamed vegetables are easy for babies to eat, steaming veggies removes a lot of their vitamins and minerals, and if you do pursue the steaming method, you should steam cauliflower as little as possible. Never boil cauliflower before you feed it to your baby since boiling removes a large amount of the nutritional content of this vegetable. Instead, baking and roasting are great ways to prepare this vegetable, and once your cauliflower is perfectly cooked, you can pop it in a food processor to make it mushy and delicious. If you feed cauliflower to your baby raw, they'll get even more nutritional benefits from this veggie, but they'll need to have at least a few teeth before they can crunch through this fibrous vegetable.
- Jennifer Akiyama