Let’s see, you are probably one of two teams when it comes to thinking about the health benefits of brussels sprouts:
- You love them and eat them frequently
- Or you feel absolutely repulsed by the thought of them and don’t even know how you ended up reading this article
Statistically speaking, you are more likely part of team B. According to a 2008 survey by Heinz shows that brussels sprouts make it to the top five in surveys of the most-hated vegetables around the world. But give me a few minutes and by the end of this article, I’ll most likely convince you to try them… and who knows you may just love them after that!
Brussels have been getting a lot of attention lately, because of their health benefits besides being a low-calorie food. I usually buy organic sprouts at the regular market or grown them myself during the summer, and we consume them regularly. Most nutritionists and food experts refer to them as a natural multivitamin– like many vegetables, and they are truly one of the healthiest foods in the pyramid.
But I understand…
They have a strong smell, may taste bitter for some and a have distinct taste.
Some describe them as slimy, smelly green creatures and you don’t want to try them. I get it, but I am going to tell you why you should them at least once anyway(I have a secret I’ll share so keep on reading…)
The Benefits of Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are green small cabbage looking with a very big nutrient profile! Furthermore, few other foods pack the same amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, nutrients per cup. Natto (fermented soy) and Kale are up there, but they are often more dreaded than the lovely sprouts.
Eating real food can be expensive, but brussels sprouts are a noteworthy exception! Sprouts are one of the few super-healthy, calorie dense, and relatively easy to find food. Ideally, you want to buy organic to reduce exposure to pesticides and other toxins.
Here are six reasons you should learn to love them:
Brussels sprouts have unique health benefits in the area of DNA protection. According to this article, A recent study has shown improved stability of DNA inside of our white blood cells after consuming about a cup or so of Brussels. Interestingly, it’s the ability of certain compounds in Brussels sprouts to block the activity of sulphotransferase enzymes that researchers believe to be responsible for these DNA-protective benefits.
Many people consume are constantly exposed to radiation, X-rays, CT scans and traveling. This may change your DNA composition in the body and lead to a variety of diseases including breast and other cancers. The cancer protection we get from Brussels sprouts is largely related to four specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin, and gluconasturtiian. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-preventive components in special combination. (source)
Additionally, several studies reveal the importance of consuming brussels sprouts to keep cholesterol levels within a healthy range. Researchers have looked at a variety of cardiovascular-related issues — including heart attack, ischemic heart disease, and atherosclerosis — and found evidence that the anti-inflammatory nature of Brussels sprouts and their fellow cruciferous vegetables can lower your risk of these conditions.
Another area that you can rely on Brussels sprouts for cardiovascular assistance involves their cholesterol-lowering ability. Cholesterol is used by your liver as a fundamental building block to produce bile acids. Bile acids are specialized molecules that aid in the digestion and absorption of fat through emulsification. These molecules are typically kept in fluid form in our gallbladder, and when we eat a fat-containing meal, they are released into the intestinal tract where they assist the fat for interaction with enzymes and ultimate absorption up into the body.
Brussels sprouts provide us with this cholesterol-lowering benefit whether they are raw or cooked. However, a recent study has shown that the cholesterol-lowering ability of raw Brussels sprouts improves significantly when they are steamed. In fact, when the cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed Brussels sprouts was compared with the cholesterol-lowering ability of the prescription drug cholestyramine (a medication that is taken for the purpose of lowering cholesterol).
When we consume Brussels sprouts, fiber-related nutrients bind together with a few of the bile acids in the intestine in a particular way so they remain inside the intestinal tract and leave the body in a bowel movement instead of being absorbed along with the fat they have emulsified. When this occurs, our liver needs to replenish the lost bile acids by calling upon our existing supply of cholesterol, and, as a result, our cholesterol level drops down. Whether cooked or raw Brussels sprouts offer our bodies this cholesterol-lowering advantage. Brussels sprouts have the ability to bound 27% as many bile acids (on a total dietary fiber basis).
Super Source of Vitamin K
A second important anti-inflammatory nutrient found in Brussels sprouts is vitamin K. Vitamin K is a direct regulator of inflammatory responses, and we need an optimal intake of this vitamin in order to avoid chronic, excessive inflammation.
Experts like Dr. Mercola and studies by Oregon State University explain the importance of vitamin K, mainly for heart and bone health. Several studies in recent months have determined that vitamin K, is a pretty complex nutrient because it comes in several parts, is responsible for very important jobs in your body, especially your bones and your heart. Vitamin K2, for example, has two basic but crucial functions for cardiovascular health and bone restoration. It helps prevent osteoporosis and hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, and other valuable things including:
Vitamin K2 directs calcium to different areas in the body like your bones, making them stronger, and your teeth to help prevent cavities. Additionally, it prevents calcium from going to the wrong places, such as to your kidneys, where it could lead to kidney stones, or your blood vessels, where it could trigger heart disease.
Although Kale contains the most Vitamin K out of any vegetable. Brussels sprouts contain almost the entire RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin K and 129% of Vitamin C among other nutrients and minerals. It’s important to balance Vitamin C with Vitamin K in order for the latter to be more effective when it comes to absorption. A few more benefits of brussels sprouts.
Personally, I’ve found that when I consume high food sources of Vitamin K (like brussels sprouts, Kale, omega 3’s) my hormones and lymphatic system function much smoothly. Less fatigue, sleep better, feel better. However, you can supplement vitamin K or even take a multivitamin (This is what I use), if your nutritional panel came back with low numbers or you know you are lacking certain vitamins.
Ready for this one? Great Source of Omega 3
We don’t generally have the tendency to consider veggies as crucial sources of omega-3s, and definitely, no veggies that are as low in overall fat as Brussels sprouts. However, 100 calories’ worth of Brussels sprouts (about 1.5 cups) offer about 480 milligrams of one of the most basic omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). That’s more than one-third of the RDA suggestion, and it’s about half of the ALA in a teaspoon of whole flaxseeds. Omega-3 fats are the foundation for the among the body’s most efficient kind of anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.
Many of us experience nutritional deficiencies without even realizing it. This may be even more problematic if you don’t have a balanced diet! Some experts are adamant about nutritional deficiencies today, especially Vitamin C, and D deficiency- which contributes to many chronic diseases– including cancer.
One cup of cooked brussels sprout contain about twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C. You can also supplement with liposomal Vitamin C. (This is what I take)
Brussels sprouts detox support is both complicated and extensive.Human studies reveal that enzyme systems in our cells required for detoxification of cancer-causing substances can be activated by compounds made from glucosinolates. Brussels sprouts are a great source of glucosinolates.
The body’s detox system requires large amounts of sulfur to work properly. Brussels sprouts are rich in sulfur-containing nutrients.
Finally, Brussels sprouts contain an ample variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including many antioxidant flavonoids. Scientific evidence reveals that DNA in our cells is protected by naturally occurring compounds in Brussels sprouts, and since many environmental toxins can trigger unwanted changes in our DNA, Brussels sprouts can definitely help prevent these toxin-triggered DNA changes.
How to Choose Tastier Brussels Sprouts
If I have convinced you at this point about health benefits to give them a try, make sure to find organic or low sprayed ones. I learned when preparing to grow brussels sprouts in my organic garden that they taste better when grown in in the cooler weather. Even after a light frost. Also, the smaller ones are less bitter and the most important tip (cut them in half). That reduces the bitterness as well.
Ways to Eat Brussels Sprouts (Without Dry Heaving)
Ok, you’ve got the brussels sprouts– woohoo! You’ve learned how healthy they are for you. Yet, you look at them, they look at you and memories of… Brussels come to mind!
If you’re new to eating brussels sprouts, I recommend starting with roasting or pan frying them in olive or coconut oil in a safe cooking pan (I use this one) or a cast iron pan instead of boiling them. Roasting or pan frying them definitely improve the taste for many people.
The most common way to consume them is by boiling, but I discovered a recipe that is super easy to make, absolutely delicious and always a hit during the holidays or get-togethers. Check out my roasted brussels sprouts recipe. I know they are a little bit of an acquired taste, but you can learn to like.. And hey maybe even love them. Promise!
If you’re having a hard time learning to actually *like* them, try these ideas:
- This simple yet tasty recipe is a great start too
- Wash and eat them raw. Yes, I wasn’t much of a fan of spinach until I ate them raw.
- This parmesan crusted brussels sprouts are to live for
- Pan fried with bacon and onions
- Try grilling them and get creative (add Himalayan salt, and even some mango pieces) Sweet, salty… Yum!
- How about bacon BBQ brussels sprouts? Hells yeah!!
Brussel Sprouts Cautions
Brussels sprouts contain Vitamin K which is also great for its blood clogging properties. Therefore, if you are on blood thinners use caution on the amount of Vitamin K2 you consume. Most likely if you supplement it.
Additionally, there is scientific evidence that people with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s should be careful when eating raw cruciferous. This article explains it in detail.
In conclusion: Give them a Try!
You’ve made it this far? High fives! Did I convince you to try brussels sprouts?
These nutrient-packed brassicas are the real deal and now you know why. They are really fabulous when prepared correctly and your body will love the nutrient boost. Go ahead buy some sprouts and give them a shot, they may just become your favorite veggie.
Do you like brussels sprouts? Will you try them at least once? Let me know in the comments below.