Raw Versus Cooked Cauliflower: Which One Is Better For You?

Cauliflower has exploded in popularity in recent years. Once, it was forgettable and bland, disappearing into the background on our white dinner plates, but no longer. Because low-carb diets have become increasingly common, cauliflower can now be found practically everywhere — from pizza crusts and cauliflower "rice" to vegan cheesecakes (yes, really!).

But some might wonder what is the best way to actually eat cauliflower in order to get the most out of this nutrient-packed vegetable. Is it better to cook it or just eat it raw?

The answer is a little complicated. Fresh cauliflower has much more protein than cooked — 30% more — and retains more nutrients overall (via Psychology Today). However, not everyone can tolerate it well when they eat it fresh. For some, the high fiber content of cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, can cause stomach aches, bloating, and gas (via Livestrong). Cooking can make them easier to digest, but does this mean it's not as beneficial to eat?

Cauliflower pizza is a popular low carb meal

If raw cauliflower upsets your stomach, there are some tips you can try in order to eat this nutritious vegetable.

"You can eat these veggies raw, but to curtail the digestive issues that may arise, try them in small quantities, chew them well, and if your system is not used to them, don't eat them all together at one sitting," dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix told Insider. "You'll have an easier time moving them through your system if they are cooked vs. eating them raw."

Also, indole, an organic compound that is known to kill precancerous cells before they turn malignant, is formed when certain cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, are cooked (via Scientific American).

More cauliflower in our meals — in any form — is a good thing for our notoriously under-vegged American diets. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a staggering 91% of adults don't eat the recommended amount of vegetables. "We cook them so they taste better," Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University, told Scientific American. "If they taste better, we're more likely to eat them."