Brussels sprouts have struck fear into the hearts of children (and adults) for decades.
Just the other week, my mother chastised me when I ordered a dish with a side of Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera while we were out for dinner.
When she was growing up, her mother regularly boiled them and served them plain. No seasoning, no roasting, nothing. It was clearly traumatizing.
These days, however, these cruciferous vegetables are having a resurgence. Diverse and flavorful Brussels sprouts recipes are available everywhere, making them easy to fit into any diet. Including them into yours can provide a variety of health benefits.
Being members of the same family as vegetables like broccoli, kale, and mustard greens, it is no surprise these mini-cabbage-looking veggies pack a serious nutritional punch.
All the valuable nutrients found within can make Brussels sprouts a very welcome addition to a healthy diet.
Brussels Sprouts Nutrition Facts
One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts features the following nutrients:
|Vitamin K||218 mcg||274%|
|Vitamin C||96.8 mg||162%|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||14%|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||0.2 mg||7%|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||135 mg||11%|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.2 mg||8%|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.4 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||1208 IU||24%|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||1 mg||4 %|
In addition to these vitamins and minerals, Brussels sprouts offer an abundance of antioxidants that have the potential to offer further health benefits.
Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are renowned for their unique nutritional content and potential to improve and protect health.
Eating cruciferous vegetables daily, with Brussels sprouts mixed into the weekly routine, is a great way to get the most from these veggies.
All you would need is roughly one cup per day as part of a healthy balanced diet.
May Lower Cancer Risk
Diets high in cruciferous vegetables are closely associated with a lower risk of certain cancers.
Researchers have identified the sulfur-containing compounds within them that may provide anticancer effects, which include glucosinolates and their byproducts like indoles and isothiocyanates.
Antioxidants in Brussels sprouts like kaempferol also help relieve oxidative stress on cells to battle cancer cells.
Research indicates that these compounds, and diets high in cruciferous vegetables, may help fight against colorectal cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma.
Promote Bone Health
Vitamin K intake is associated with bone fracture risk, and eating more of the nutrient may reduce the risk for breaks. Eating enough vitamin K helps improve calcium absorption, and research indicates it can increase bone strength and lower the risk of breaks in postmenopausal women.
Terrific Source of Fiber
Fiber plays a number of roles in promoting good health. For one thing, it contributes to improved digestion.
Getting adequate daily fiber reduces the risk of constipation and improves stool frequency and consistency.
Fiber also aids digestion and absorption by feeding healthy gut bacteria. When your gut bacteria are healthy and functioning optimally, you simply function better from a mental and physical standpoint.
Adequate fiber intake also has the ability to improve heart health, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
Help Regulate Blood Sugar
A number of studies link cruciferous vegetables to improved blood sugar levels. This could have something to do with their fiber content, as well as an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid.
Research has indicated that fiber moves slowly through the body, to ultimately slow sugar absorption in the blood. This helps keep blood sugar levels regular and avoids drastic spikes and valleys.
Further, alpha-lipoic acid can improve insulin sensitivity to aid sugar absorption, thereby helping with blood sugar regulation.
It’s possible that eating Brussels sprouts can help manage blood sugar and potentially prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
Rich in Omega-3s
There are numerous nutrients in Brussels sprouts that contribute to heart health, and omega-3s are one of them.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are most abundantly found in fatty fish, may contribute to improved heart health and cognitive function, lower inflammation, and enhanced insulin response.
The omega-3 in Brussels sprouts is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and it’s different from what is found fish. It is used less effectively in your body than fish varieties, but that simply means you need to eat more of it.
Therefore, having Brussels sprouts a few times per week would be recommended to help you get the most benefit—particularly if fish is not a regular part of your diet.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
If only my grandmother knew how to cook Brussels sprouts, my mother may not have been scarred for life.
There are a few ways to cook Brussels sprouts, so finding a way that best suits your palate is ideal. But before cooking, let’s take a look at what to look for when buying.
You want to purchase the sprouts when they’re bright green with tight, compact leaves. If they look yellow or wilted, they are beyond fresh.
When frozen, they have a lifespan of three to five weeks, and can stay fresh in the fridge for a week or two. Before cooking, give them a rinse to get rid of any dirt or debris.
One cooking method is steaming. This is likely the healthiest way to cook Brussels sprouts, as steaming typically involves short cooking times and does not provide as much opportunity for nutrients to leak from the sprout.
To steam, simply put about two inches of water into a pot and place the sprouts on a steaming tray in the pot. Cover, set heat to medium, and cook on the stove for six to eight minutes.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are more appetizing and are popping up on menus all over the place.
To make them at home, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve the sprouts and place flat-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with some olive oil and a little salt, then roast for 18 to 25 minutes.
You can also shave Brussels sprouts to add to salads or soups. They can be shaved and eaten raw or given a quick sauté according to your tastes and use.
Delicious Brussels Sprouts Recipes
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 30 Minutes Serves:6-8
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1 1/4” thick slice pancetta, cut into small cubes
Coarse sea salt
- Bring a few inches of salted water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Add sprouts and cook for two to three minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Drain.
- Place oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-low. Add pancetta and sauté for about eight minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the sprouts, and arrange them in a single layer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, turning occasionally, until the sprouts are tender when forked and golden brown.
- Put in serving dish and serve.
Fall Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Serves: 16
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 red onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse sea salt, pinch
Black pepper, pinch
1 tbsp chili powder
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Lay the squash on its side and slice off the top and bottom. Use a peeler to remove the skin and cut the squash in half at the neck.
- Cut the neck into a few large rings, then slice into rectangles. Next, slice the rectangles into cubes.
- Cut the body of the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Slice each half into matchsticks and each matchstick into cubes.
- Divide all cubes between two baking sheets.
- Trim Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Arrange on the baking sheets with the squash and add red onions. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt, pepper, and chili powder; and then toss. Place sheet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Put on serving dish and drizzle with pomegranate seeds and molasses. Toss and serve.
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