Brussels Sprouts: Health Benefits and How To

Brussels Sprout

(HealthCastle.com) Brussels sprouts tend to bring out strong opinions: You either love them or you hate them. If you love them, you're in luck – these tiny cabbages are packed with nutrition. As a bonus, they thrive in colder temperatures, so they're at their peak when there are few other fresh, local produce options available. If you've always thought you hated them, you just might want to give them another chance. Brussels sprouts are enjoying a moment in the spotlight, which means there are all kinds of new ways to prepare them. These new methods might just be tasty enough to make you forget all about those childhood dinners of overcooked, mushy "little brains."

Nutrition Data for Brussels Sprouts

100 grams of boiled and drained Brussels sprouts (about 5 sprouts) contains:

  •     Calories: 36 kcal
  •     Carbohydrates: 7 g
  •     Fat: 0 g
  •     Protein: 3 g
  •     Fiber: 3 g
  •     Glycemic Index: Low
  •     Gluten Free: Yes

Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts

Heart Health

Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, and folate, which can help lower homocysteine – a risk factor for heart disease. Plus, they're a good source of lutein, which appears to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. They also contain compounds that reduce inflammation in the body, and in the cardiovascular system in particular. However, if you are taking anticoagulants, you should be careful about eating too many Brussels sprouts. They contain Vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting and can reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications – as one man in Britain found out last year after being admitted to hospital.

Cancer Prevention

Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients that promote apoptosis, a process that kills pre-cancerous cells. They are also a good source of sulforaphane, a phytochemical that has been found to detoxify cancer-causing chemicals before they damage the body, and they are loaded with antioxidants. They have been shown in particular to help ward off colon, bladder, breast, and prostate cancers.

A Healthy Vitamin Load

Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins, including Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as several B vitamins.

How to Choose Fresh Brussels Sprouts at the Store

Look for bright green sprouts with no mushy or brown spots. They should be round (not elongated), with tightly packed leaves. Go for sprouts that seem heavy for their size. Smaller sprouts are sweeter – so go for these if you have any doubts about your love for these sprouts!

How to Get More Brussels Sprouts in Your Diet

  • Try shredding raw Brussels sprouts over a salad for some extra crunch.
  • Steam or boil them just until they turn a brighter shade of green. Cut them in half or cut an X into the bottom of each sprout to speed the cooking process and prevent them from turning bitter.
  • Try roasting them in the oven on their own or with other fall vegetables to maximize their sweetness.
  • Slice them thin and cook them in a pan, as in this recipe for Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Caraway & Lemon.
  • Embrace the current trend and cook them with bacon.
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HealthCastle, founded in 1997, is the largest online nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.