Nutrition: Scuba Diving and Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. Its family members include broccoli, Bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale, and mustard greens, amongst others.

These vegetables bring many valuable nutrients to the table (see what I did there..)

  • Vitamin A carotenoids
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Folic acid
  • Fiber
  • Iron

Clearly they come with carbs, as any good vegetable would do. But they also provide a substantial amount of protein and even a little bit of our omega-3 fats (World’s Healthiest Foods, 2019).

Cauliflower is unique because it tastes like bland garbage on its own. But give it a little love, and it suddenly becomes a versatile substitute in a variety of dishes. I’m not going to try to convince you that it’s a direct comparison to pasta or meat. But if your goal is to eat more vegetables and replace refined carbs with a more nutrient dense food, cauliflower is the way to go. One of my favorites is cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese. There are many different recipes available online. I’ve made it all on the stove before and it came out nicely, but the best one is made in the oven.

Here’s a great recipe to follow – I add jalapeños to mine!

Even though it’s still not a “healthy” dish with all the cheese and heavy cream, I think this meal balances healthy choices and fun food nicely. It helps to increase vegetable intake and reduces the number of calories one would consume eating the regular noodle version. I’ve also made it with almond-coconut milk instead of heavy cream. It’s a little runnier but I didn’t feel like I was compromising anything by using this healthy alternative.

Cruciferous vegetables contain glucoraphanin, a sulforaphane (SFN) precursor. This organosulfur compound has been heavily researched and is associated with numerous positive biological effects, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, neuroprotective, and antidiabetic effects (Kim & Park, 2016). Cauliflower on its own isn’t terribly exciting, but add cheese to just about anything and I’m all for it!

So what does all this have to do with scuba diving? Active divers require more calories (cheese..!) and will benefit from nutrient dense foods (cauliflower!). Under the supervision of a medical professional, supplements may be recommended – such as calcium and iron (Benardot, Zimmermann, Cox, & Marks, 2014). According to MyFitnessPal, an entire head of cauliflower will only ding you 25 calories. That’s 3 minutes of cycling or 9 minutes of cleaning (MyFitnessPal, 2019) – or anywhere from 6-12 minutes of scuba diving (Gronfeldt, 2015). It’s a negligible source of calories but also comes with (minimal) protein, carbs and fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron (MyFitnessPal, 2019).

I am not a medical professional. I am merely a scuba diver in nursing school, here to share my thoughts and love for cauliflower mac n’ cheese.


Benardot, D.,  Zimmermann, W., Cox, G. R., & Marks, S. (2014). Nutritional Recommendations for Divers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 24:4, 392-403. doi:
Gronfeldt, T. (2015). Does Scuba Diving Burn Calories? Scuba Diver Life. Retrieved from

Kim, J. K., & Park, S. U. (2016). Current potential health benefits of sulforaphane. EXCLI journal, 15, 571.

MyFitnessPal. (2019). Cauliflower – Raw. Retrieved from

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