Vegetable of the season: the Romanesque Cauliflower.

As we head into winter here's hoping that  everyone is in good spirits and keeping well.

Particularly for the older woman this season presents many health challenges. However, there's one really great way to look good, feel well and function at your best no matter what the winter has to throw at you. With that in mind how's about eating your way to good health and well being this winter. Of course we all know about the health benefits of vegetables, particularly the brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli. However, top of the tree sits the stunning beauty of the Romanesque Cauliflower. (Sometimes called Romanesco Broccoli. )

First documented in Italy this light green vegetable is packed with vitamins, carotenoids and dietary fibre.  It also contains phytochemicals that have been shown to benefit arthritis, the immune system, blood pressure, skin, vision and blood/sugar disorders. So a great choice for the older woman.

The Romanesque Cauliflower also contains  the amino-acid Tryptophan, required for the formation of Serotonin - otherwise known as the "feel good" neuro-transmitter. The body also needs Serotonin  for the manufacture of Melatonin which is required for a naturally good sleep. Issues with sleep and seasonal low mood can be a problem for older women in winter. So another good reason why we need to include this stunning seasonal vegetable in our diet.

However, the good news just got better. Some scientists are now saying that simply looking at the vegetable can make you feel better. Apparently that's down to the natural patterns formed by the head of the vegetable that is made up of striking pyramidal shapes or buds called fractals. Each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds arranged in a logarithmic spiral. These types of naturally occurring patterns are seen elsewhere in nature - for instance in ferns and some tress. However, this spiralling effect is most notable in the Romanesque Cauliflower which, for that reason, is now being referred to as "fractal food" or the "ultimate fractal vegetable".

According to a leading expert - Dr Matilda van den Bosch, of the Swedish University if Agricultural Sciences - the people studied  who looked at these kind of fractals shapes demonstrated higher alpha band activation on brain scan; indicating a relaxed state. These claims were made at the  Royal Horticultural Society's 4th annual Lecture which took place last month.

I've recently stumbled upon the weird and wonderful world of Fibonacci numbers and fractal shapes in nature. For me though it's not about the science. Next time you are lucky enough to be able to buy a Romanesque take a look yourself.  If you're anything like me you'll be enthralled by the sheer simplicity and the breath-taking precision of  it all.