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Brussels Sprouts PDF Print E-mail

October 2012
by Chris Ellis, Staff Nutritionist

One of the two vegetables I did not like when I was a child was Brussels sprouts (the other one was mushrooms). My mother pushed them on all three of the children in my family because she was really into good nutrition—which meant trying to get a lot of veggies into us. The smell and taste of Brussels sprouts is intense and I could barely get past it when I had to force them down in small amounts, at least four to six of them before I was allowed to leave the table. I am sure I put a few in my napkin or hid them in various places when my mother wasn’t looking. They were a favorite vegetable of my parents so we had them quite often when they were in season. To my surprise, many years later I hold Brussels sprouts in high regard and now find I could eat them almost daily.  

Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family and are related to cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and others. They have so much to offer nutritionally but are often forgotten or ignored due to their strong smell. However, Brussels sprouts have too many health attributes to be ignored and for that reason should be included in your diet frequently. They have cholesterol-lowering abilities, though to take advantage of this they need to be steamed. They also are a source of a chemical that research has shown increases DNA repair in cells and prevents cancer from developing. They are one of the best sources of the plant compounds glucosinolates and these are the backbone of a variety of cancer-protective substances. Their sulfuric taste (sulforaphane) is derived from the glucosinolates and this component also prevents bacterial overgrowth in our stomach lining, which over time can be damaging. Their rich vitamin-K and other antioxidant content lead them to be very helpful with inflammation. In fact, early research shows that the anti-inflammatory properties from vitamin K, antioxidants, and the glucosinolate content of Brussels sprouts may assist with treating inflammation-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and others.
Brussels sprouts provide a wealth of nutrients along with their concentration of antioxidants, specifically isorhamnetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. They are an excellent sources of vitamin K, fiber, and vitamin C, and provide good amounts of folate, manganese, and vitamin A. For a vegetable, they contain a whopping amount of omega-3 fatty acids, with the equivalent of half of a teaspoon of flax seeds in a cooked, 1½-cup serving.

Brussels sprouts are very pungent, there is no doubt about it, but there are ways to prepare them to alleviate that and make them so tasty! You need to give them a fair chance because they can be so delicious and nutritious!! We are just beginning the season for Brussels sprouts so we have the next couple months to enjoy them locally. When buying them, choose Brussels sprouts that are firm and have a vibrant green color. Wash them, remove discolored leaves, and trim the ends before steaming. Here are a couple easy recipes that will make you change your mind about poor Brussels sprouts—unless you are already a fan of them.