Life Extension Magazine®

Purple cauliflower rich in anthocyanins and glucosinolate

Purple Cauliflower

Abundant in anthocyanins, purple cauliflower helps fight cardiovascular disease and provides anti-cancer properties.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in March 2021. Written by: Garry Messick.

What you need to know

Compounds found in purple cauliflower, such as glucosinolates, offer multiple health advantages.

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae family of plants. As such, it’s related to a number of other healthy foods, including kale, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

In its most common form, white cauliflower, the vegetable has substantial nutritional value. Purple cauliflower adds an important ingredient to the mix. Let’s take a closer look at this, as well as other benefits to be derived from this valuable vegetable.


Purple cauliflower’s color is due to its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are part of the flavonoid family of phenolic compounds. They are pigments that lend color to everything from blueberries to red wine, and are the reason leaves change color in autumn.

Research shows that anthocyanins may help fight cardiovascular disease. One study that followed over 34,000 postmenopausal women over a 16-year period found that those who ate anthocyanin-rich fruits on a weekly basis had significantly reduced risk of dying from coronary artery disease.1 Another study found that anthocyanins were associated with lower arterial stiffness and significantly lower systolic blood pressure.2

Due to their status as oxidant reducers, as well as an ability to activate detoxifying enzymes, anthocyanins have also shown remarkable anti-cancer properties, including preventing cancer cell proliferation, inducing cancer-cell death, and inhibiting the formation of blood vessels that promote tumor growth.3


Cruciferous vegetables such as purple or white cauliflower are rich in the sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates, which, among other benefits, have significant system-wide anti-inflammatory effects.4


Purple and other varieties of cauliflower contain the compounds gluconasturtiin, glucoraphanin, and glucobrassicin, which stimulate Phase II enzymes. These act as the body’s natural oxidant reducers and support liver function by helping to prompt detoxifying enzymes that block damage from free radicals.5


  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(3):895-909.
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(4):781-8.
  3. Cancer Lett. 2008;269(2):281-90.
  4. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2015;1(3):179-96.
  5. Front Genet. 2012;3:7.