Brussels Sprouts are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale) and are named after the city in Belgium where they were first referenced in the 1200s – Brussels!
They are an extremely nutrient-dense food - providing you with 20 essential vitamins and minerals. Top of the list are vitamin K and vitamin C but they are also a great source of fibre, riboflavin, magnesium, and phosphorus as well as vitamins A and B6, thiamin, folate, potassium, and manganese, copper, calcium, and iron. With the added benefit of being low in saturated fat and cholesterol it's no wonder they're referred to as a superfood!
Why you should eat them!
- vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant.
- vitamin A supports healthy eyesight.
- vitamin K is intrinsic to the blood’s ability to clot.
- vitamin content keeps your skeleton strong because of the vitamin C, a nutrient you need to make the collagen abundant in bone tissue, and vitamin K, a vitamin that promotes bone mineralization.
- folate bolsters red blood cell health and is important to pregnant women as it helps prevent specific neural tube defects.
- brussels sprouts are a rich source of potassium which can help regulate your blood pressure and fluid balance.
- fibre protects the health of your colon, prevents constipation and contributes to lower cholesterol.
Anti-Inflammatory and Powerful Antioxidants
Brussels sprouts are also very important for their antioxidants and phytochemicals, which have been proven to fight chronic disease.
Not only do Brussels sprouts contain well-known antioxidants like vitamin C, but also others that are much less known but equally as important, like kaempferol, isorhamnetin, caffeic and ferulic acids, and a fairly rare sulfur-containing compound called D3T (3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione).
This means that once consumed, Brussels sprouts help the body to ward off chronic oxidative stress, which is a major risk factor for many types of chronic diseases.
At the same time, Brussels sprouts’ anti-inflammatory compounds will combat chronic inflammation in your body, another risk factor for chronic disease. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is also anti-inflammatory and it operates on a genetic level, helping to prevent inflammatory responses at the very early, initial stages of disease development. It’s due to Brussels sprouts’ anti-inflammatory properties that they may also offer benefit for heart problems, including heart attack and atherosclerosis.
Tips to jazz up your sprouts!
You may be part of a large portion of the British population who deem Brussels sprouts to be rather bitter and a bit smelly but treat them right and they're actually delicious. If your Brussels Sprouts do become overly smelly, mushy, or turn a muted green they’re probably just overcooked - simple to fix!
Here's some kitchen inspiration:
- steam Brussels sprouts and toss them with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, or butter.
- roast them and quarter them, then toss them like a salad with onions, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.
- try serving steamed Brussels sprouts as a side dish with a honey mustard or cheese sauce, or roasted and tossed together with toasted pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
- add flavor to your sprouts by using fresh herbs, such as rosemary or basil.
- alternatively, eat the sprouts raw - simply combine thinly sliced brussels sprouts with chopped kale and a vinaigrette, or mix chopped brussels sprouts with broccoli florets and chopped cooked sweet potato.
Or you can even just keep a bowl in the fridge, seasoned with salt and pepper, to snack on throughout the day. They're the perfect for popping in your mouth!
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.