What is Brussels Sprouts?
Brussels sprout is a member of the Gemmifera Group of cabbages, grown for its edible buds. The leaf vegetables are typically 1.5–4.0 cm in diameter and resemble miniature cabbages. Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, from which it gained its name.
With their spherical shape and densely packed green leaves, they look like mini cabbages, and in fact, the cabbage and the Brussels sprout do both come from the same species of plant – the brassica oleracea. But this doesn’t mean that Brussels sprouts are just baby cabbages
Brassica contains high amounts of compounds called glucosinolates which, when metabolized in the body, give them their characteristic sharp or bitter taste.” And it is this sharp or bitter taste that people either like or hate.
Here are some of the major nutrients in a half-cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts (1):
- Calories: 28
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 81% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 9% of the RDI
Brussels sprouts are especially rich in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health.
They’re also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps promote iron absorption and is involved in tissue repair and immune function.
In addition to the nutrients above, Brussels sprouts contain small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium, and phosphorus (1).
12 Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
1. A powerful cold-weather superfood
Packed with immunity-boosting vitamin C and cancer-fighting glucosinolates, Brussels sprouts are among the most powerful cold-weather superfoods.
Based on these findings, a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts may reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of pro-inflammatory diseases. Summary: Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants and contain compounds that may help lower levels of inflammation
Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation can contribute to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Some test-tube studies have shown that the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts possess anti-inflammatory properties.
A large study found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables was associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.
Additionally, Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants, which can help neutralize the free radicals that can cause inflammation.
3. Clean you out
Brussels sprouts are high in sulfur, which helps to remove toxins from the blood. Eating a serving or two of Brussels sprouts daily will help sponge out toxins – whether they’re environmental or dietary.
4. Good for weight loss
Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin A, folacin, potassium, calcium. They have 3-5 grams of fiber per cup, and at 25 calories per 1/2 cup cooked. Brussels sprouts are one of those foods that will make you feel full for longer. All these reasons make it a good option to include it in your diet to reduce weight.
5. Rich in Antioxidants
Brussels sprouts have many health benefits, but their impressive antioxidant content stands out.
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress in your cells and help lower your risk of chronic disease.
One study found that when participants ate about 2 cups (300 grams) of Brussels sprouts daily, damage to their cells from oxidative stress decreased by 28%.
Brussels sprouts are especially high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that has been studied extensively for its many health-promoting properties.
Eating Brussels sprouts as part of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help supply the antioxidants your body needs to promote good health.
6. May Help Protect Against Cancer
Some studies suggest that the high levels of antioxidants in Brussels sprouts could help protect against certain types of cancer.
There are several possible ways this may work.
A 2008 study found that Brussels sprouts could protect against carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, and prevent oxidative damage to cells.
In another small study, eating Brussels sprouts increased the levels of some detoxification enzymes by 15–30%.
The researchers hypothesized that this effect could potentially lead to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer, though further research is needed.
Also, the antioxidants in Brussels sprouts can neutralize free radicals. These are compounds formed by oxidative stress that contribute to diseases like cancer.
Including Brussels sprouts as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle may help reduce the risk of cancer, but more research is needed.
7. High in Fiber
Just a half-cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber, fulfilling up to 8% of your daily fiber needs (1).
Fiber is an important part of health, and including a good amount of it in your diet affords many health benefits.
Fiber also promotes digestive health by helping feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Current guidelines recommend women eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should eat at least 38 grams of fiber per day.
Eating Brussels sprouts, along with other good sources of fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can easily help you meet your fiber needs.
8. Rich in Vitamin K
Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin K. In fact, just a half-cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 137% of your daily vitamin K requirement (1).
This important nutrient plays a vital role in the body.
It is essential for coagulation, the formation of blood clots that stop bleeding.
Vitamin K may also play a role in bone growth and could help protect against osteoporosis, a condition characterized by progressive bone loss.
In fact, one review of seven studies concluded that taking vitamin K supplements could increase bone strength and decrease the risk of bone fracture in postmenopausal women.
Keep in mind that those taking blood-thinning medication should moderate their vitamin K intake.
But for most people, boosting vitamin K intake may reap many health benefits.
9. May Help Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
In addition to their impressive nutrient profile and, long list of health benefits, Brussels sprouts may also help keep blood sugar levels steady.
This is likely because Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Brussels sprouts also contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that’s been researched extensively for its potential effects on blood sugar and insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that’s responsible for transporting sugar from your blood to your cells to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
In one study, 12 patients with diabetes who were given alpha-lipoic acid supplements experienced increased insulin sensitivity.
The researchers proposed this was because the alpha-lipoic acid allowed insulin to work more efficiently to lower blood sugar.
Increasing your intake of Brussels sprouts alongside an otherwise healthy diet may help you keep your blood sugar levels stable.
10. Contain ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids
For those who don’t eat fish or seafood, eating enough omega-3 fatty acids can be a challenge.
Plant foods only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s used less effectively in your body than the omega-3 fats from fish and seafood.
This is because your body can only convert ALA to the more active forms of omega-3 fatty acids in limited quantities.
For this reason, you would need to consume a greater amount of ALA omega-3 fatty acids to meet your daily omega-3 needs, compared to if you were getting your omega-3 fats from fish or seafood.
Brussels sprouts are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, with 135 mg of ALA in each half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts.
Including a few servings of Brussels sprouts in your diet, each week can help you easily meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs, with a half-cup (78 grams) providing 12% of the daily requirement for women and 8.5% for men.
11. High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C can also increase the absorption of non-heme iron, a form of iron found in plant foods that your body can’t absorb as easily as iron from animal sources.
In fact, one study found that taking 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal increased the absorption of iron by 67%.
Adding even just one or two servings of Brussels sprouts to your diet a few times a week can help you meet your needs.
12. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Brussels sprouts make a healthy addition to any diet and are easy to incorporate into side dishes and entrées.
People often enjoy roasted, boiled, sautéed, or baked.
Brussels sprouts can also be added to pasta, frittatas, or stir-fried dishes for a flavorful and nutritious dinner.
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Please let us know in the comments below:
1. Do you eat Brussels sprouts? Why or why not?
2. What health benefits do you get from eating Brussels sprouts?
Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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