Colorful Crucifer: A Brain-Building Purple Potion

Image courtesy Flickr/Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

My brain food recommendation for this post is Purple Cauliflower.

Cauliflower contains vitamin B6 and folate, two methylators that are vital to making neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which regulated mood, memory, sex drive, pleasure and attention. They also reduce homocystiene, high levels of which are associated with both depression and heart disease. It is a brainfood carb as it is very low in sugar, but high in fiber. This purple potion is also packed with vitamin C.

Why go purple? Purple cauliflowers arose from a specific genetic mutation that lead to increased production of anthocyanins, a set of purple pigments. These molecules travel to the brain where they act as powerful antioxidants and reducing inflammation. They are part of the reason we say blueberries, rapsberries and red wine are healthy. Also, cauliflower is a member of the superfood family called Brassica, which includes Brussell’s sprouts, Kale, and Broccoli. With this family you always get a good dose of the most powerful phytonutrients know to science-sulphorafane (which boosts natural detox systems and fights cancer), carotenoids (which protect brain fat), and anthocyanins (in puple members of the family).

Purple cauliflower is easy to find at your local Farmer’s Market (find yours https://www.locaharvest.org). Don’t boil cauliflower ever again as doing so takes away the purple color, leaving reduced amounts of anthocyanin. Many of the phytonutrients break down with cooking, so make it minimal. Do a quick, hot sauté, broil in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or try a lower temperature (350 degrees) oven roasting for 25 minutes. I generally toss in olive oil, or butter or lard to add my favorite brain-building fats and to make sure I absorb as many of the fat-soluble carotenoids as possible. Leftovers make a great omelet filling in the morning.

Welcome to The Farmacy. I hope these posts will help you eat for a healthier, happier brain…starting with purple cauliflower.

The above posting is my once-monthly blog for Psychology Today called, The Farmacy. I cross-post it here, but you can check out the original version online here: Colorful Crucifer: A Brain-Building Purple Potion

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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