Substance Info: (and synonyms)

Background Info:

Common names: Cauliflower, Broccoflower, Calabrese, Romanesco

It is believed that both Broccoli and Cauliflower were developed from a wild Cabbage ancestor by gardeners in the eastern Mediterranean just three or four hundred years ago.

Cauliflower is a cool-season annual; coming in white (the most popular and readily available), lime green and purple varieties. On clusters of stalks are of thousands of meristems which would produce flowers but are aborted, malformed flower buds that have stopped developing in the bud stage. The entire floret portion (called the "curd") is edible. The green leaves at the base are also edible.

Cauliflower plants are limited to cultivated beds. The florets can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways, including boiling, baking and sautéing. They often wind up in soups, or as a side dish smothered with a cheese sauce, or served raw on a crudité platter. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C and is a fair source of iron.

Cauliflower (and other members of the genus Brassica) contain very high levels of antioxidant and anticancer compounds. Vitamins and nutrients typically are more concentrated in flower buds than in leaves, and that makes Cauliflower a better source of vitamins and nutrients than Brassica crops in which only the leaves are eaten. Other research has suggested that the compounds in Cauliflower and other Brassicas can protect the eyes against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.

Sulphurous compounds can emit unpleasant smells when cooking; boil in open pan to avoid this and tainted flavor (see: Indoles).

Cauliflower is said to cause flatulence. Digestive discomforts are eased when eaten with garlic, caraway, coriander and cumin. Other herbs which aid the digestion are tarragon, bay and fennel.


Adverse Reactions:


[ 1 / 7 ]

The present manuscript provides data on food allergens such as peas and cauliflower, which have been reported as rare causes of anaphylaxis. (Dolle 2012 ref.28181 8)

Dölle S, Hompes S, Grünhagen J, Worm M. Food-associated anaphylaxis. Data from the anaphylaxis registry. [German] Hautarzt 2012 Apr;63(4):294-298

[ 2 / 7 ]

A 12-year-old boy developed urticaria, dyspnoea and a reduction in blood pressure after eating cauliflower in combination with physical activity. (Striegel 2011 ref.29324 3)

Striegel AK, Buderus S, Lange L. Verdacht auf eine Exercise-induced Anaphylaxis auf Blumenkohl bei einem 12-jährigen Jungen. Allergologie 2011; 34: 555–559.

[ 3 / 7 ]

A 30-year-old LTP-sensitized Spanish woman with a history of severe anaphylactic reaction to grapes, apple and cauliflower in which the detection of specific IgE against the recombinant protein Pru p 3 led to the diagnosis. (Brans 2010 ref.25231 7)

Brans R, Merk HF. Component-based diagnostic approach. Detection of sensitization to lipid transfer proteins in food allergy. [German] Hautarzt 2010 May;61(5):382-385

[ 4 / 7 ]

Immunological contact urticarial and/or protein contact dermatitis. Classically, the protein sources are divided into 4 main groups: group 1: fruits, vegetables, spices, plants, and woods; group 2: animal proteins; group 3: grains and group 4: enzymes. Taking into account the nature of the causal proteins, a wide variety of jobs can be affected. (Amaro 2008 ref.20923 7)

Amaro C, Goossens A. Immunological occupational contact urticaria and contact dermatitis from proteins: a review. Contact Dermatitis 2008 Feb;58(2):67-75.

[ 5 / 7 ]

A 70 year-old man who suffered an acute oropharyngeal itching, facial and hand swelling, dyspnea and severe bronchospasm within a few minutes after eating vegetable paella containing cauliflower, green beans, red and green pepper. He also suffered from oral allergy syndrome with some fruits (apple, peach, melon, apricot) and nuts (walnut, peanut). A strong skin prick test response was obtained with cauliflower and peach lipid transfer protein. Specific IgE determinations were positive to cabbage (0.79 kU/ L), cauliflower (0.49 kU/L) and apple (1.54 kU/L), and negative to mustard. The authors conclude that the patient experienced an IgE-mediated anaphylactic reaction to cauliflower. (Hernandez 2005 ref.12557 5)

Hernandez E, Quirce S, Villalba M, Cuesta J, Sastre J. Anaphylaxis caused by cauliflower. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2005;15(2):2-159

[ 6 / 7 ]

Allergy for cauliflower is only mentioned sporadically in literature before 1970 (1932, 1954). (Touton 1932 ref.23464 7) (Vaughan 1954 ref.23465 0) (In: van Ketel 1975 ref.1708 8)

van Ketel WG. A cauliflower allergy. Contact Dermatitis 1975;1(5):324-5

[ 7 / 7 ]

A 43-year-old male suffering for the past 10 years from eczema on his hands. He is a plant grower; his main crops are cauliflower, potatoes, tulip bulbs and onions. The skin became more severe after contact with cauliflower. Patch testing was performed with Micropore tape because the patient had a very strong reaction to colophony. The patient reacted strongly to all cauliflower extracts and less so to extracts of tulip bulbs and onions in patch tests. No reaction was observed with potato extracts. The patient reacted positively to tulipalin A. This explains at least partially the troubles caused by tulips. (van Ketel 1975 ref.1708 3)

van Ketel WG. A cauliflower allergy. Contact Dermatitis 1975;1(5):324-5

Non-Immune reactions

[ 1 ]

Maternal intake of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cow's milk, onion, and chocolate were significantly related to colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants (Lust 1996 ref.1448 9)

Lust KD, Brown JE, et al. Maternal intake of cruciferous vegetables and other foods and colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants. J Am Diet Assoc 1996;96(1):46-8

[ 2 ]

The mean plasma half-life of caffeine was reduced by approximately 20% following a Brassica diet, suggesting that Brassica vegetables stimulate caffeine metabolism. (McDanell 1992 ref.6786 8)

McDanell RE, Henderson LA, Russell K, McLean AE. The effect of brassica vegetable consumption on caffeine metabolism in humans. Hum Exp Toxicol 1992;11(3):167-72

Occupational reactions

[ 1 ]

Fifty-four employees working with cauliflower (Brassica oleracea botrytis) and broccoli (B. oleracea italica/cymosa) pollen were evaluated for allergic symptoms to these vegetables. Work-related symptoms such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma and urticaria caused by B. oleracea pollen were reported by 44% of the participants (24/54), of whom all but one had positive SPT for cauliflower- and/or broccoli-pollen/flower extracts and 58% (14/24) had positive RAST results (Cauliflower (0.45-60.37 (n=14)), Brocolli (0.65-86.91 (n=13))). Of all participants, 39% (21/54) were found to be sensitized by SPT to cauliflower and broccoli pollen/flower extract, 4% (2/54) had positive SPT for broccoli pollen only, and 4% (2/54) for cauliflower pollen only. RAST for both broccoli and cauliflower pollen was positive in 28% (15/54) of the participants, whereas 6% (3/54) had only specific IgE to cauliflower. RAST values varied from 0.32 to 60 IU/ml. Symptoms had developed within the first 2 years in 33% of the patients. Six patients had to stop or change work. (Hermanides 2006 ref.13823 5)

Hermanides HK, Lahey-de Boer AM, Zuidmeer L, Guikers C, van RR, Knulst AC. Brassica oleracea pollen, a new source of occupational allergens. Allergy 2006 Apr;61(4):498-502

[ 2 ]

Occupational asthma due to the inhalation of cauliflower and cabbage vapors. A 41-year-old woman suffered recurrent episodes of ocular and nasal itching, sneezing, watery nose, tearing, dry cough, chest tightness, and dyspnoea within a few minutes after inhaling cauliflower and cabbage cooking vapours in the hotel kitchen. She had previously suffered an acute episode of generalised urticaria, facial and oropharyngeal angioedema 6 hours after eating cabbage. Skin specific IgE testing was positive to raw and stewed cauliflower, cabbage and radish and negative to turnip, Brussels sprouts, mustard, cress, and brocolli. Serum specific IgE was positive for cabbage (0.77 kU/l), Brussels sprouts (0.74 kU/l), broccoli (0.63 kU/l), cauliflower (0.40 kU/l), and oilseed rape (0.46 kU/l), and was negative to mustard (<0.35 kU/l). An inhalation challenge to boiling cauliflower was positive. (Quirce 2005 ref.11842 2)

Quirce S, Madero MF, Fernandez-Nieto M, Jimenez A, Sastre J. Occupational asthma due to the inhalation of cauliflower and cabbage vapors. Allergy 2005 Jul;60(7):969-970.

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Allergy Advisor  - Food Additive and Preservative Allergy and Intolerance Database