Ross Geller hated Brussels sprouts on popular TV sitcom Friends, leading to an entire generation staying away from this member of the Gemmifera Group of cabbages. But far from hating these small leafy green buds that look like miniature cabbages, known as a zero-calorie food, it’s time to make – yes – friends with them.
The vegetable, supposed to have originated in Brussels, Belgium, are exceptionally rich sources of protein, dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Brussel sprouts belong to the same family as collard greens, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi – all cruciferous. Many cultivars are available, with some purple in colour.
Why should you have them, you ask? We give you seven reasons:
- Brussel sprouts are extremely low in calories: A half cup of boiled and unsalted brussel sprouts contain 28 calories, 2 gm protein and trace amounts of fat.
- Brussel sprouts have high levels of nutrients: Brussels sprouts provide you with 20 essential vitamins and minerals. They have vitamin C and vitamin K, and moderate amounts of B vitamins, such as folic acid and vitamin B6. Brussels sprouts are also a source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, calcium, manganese and selenium.
- Brussel sprouts are high in fiber: Of the 6 gm of carbohydrates a half cup of boiled sprouts contain, 2 g come from fiber. Adequate fiber – 25 gm for women and 38 gm for men each day – can help protect the health of the colon, prevent constipation and contribute to lower cholesterol.
- Brussel sprouts can help prevent retinal damage: The vegetables contain Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid. This is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula-lutea in the eyes where it provides anti-oxidant and protective light-filtering functions from UV rays.
- Brussels sprouts are packed with antioxidants: These flavonoid antioxidants, including thiocyanates, indoles, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, protect from prostate, colon, and endometrial cancers. Boiling is said to considerably reduce the sulforaphane level, so try and steam or stir fry.
- Brussel sprouts can promote bone health: The presence of vitamin K – 100 g provides about 177 µg – can promote bone formation and strengthening.
- Brussel sprouts can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease: Adequate levels of vitamin K in the diet can help limit neuronal damage in the brain and preventing or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, keep in mind that Brussels sprouts lack several of the amino acids necessary to make it a complete protein like meat or dairy. So consume grains to get all the essential amino acids. Consuming Brussels sprouts are not recommended for patients taking anticoagulants as the vitamin K can affect the blood-clotting factor.
Brussel Sprouts Recipe to Try
Stumped at how to cook those Brussels sprouts? Try this simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apple
recipe. You’ll love the sweet-tart contrast of Fuji apples with the bitter Brussels sprouts. Leave the red skin on for a pretty contrast, or peel the apple, if you prefer.
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
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2 tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine apple and Brussels sprouts in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish. Add apple cider, olive oil, minced fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; toss well. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender.