What are Brussels Sprouts?
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, with relatives including cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy and broccoli, Brussels Sprouts are the marmite of the vegetable world. You either love or hate them – and this is often due to the fact they are often overcooked and unpleasant to eat. Cooked properly, these cute cabbage-like sprouts are truly delicious and packed full of nutrients.
As more of us move to plant-based diets, Brussels Sprouts are experiencing a true rejuvenation in the nutrition world, with chefs adding them to salads or sautéing with honey and balsamic vinegar for delicious rich nutty goodness. In this article, we’ll explore just how good Brussels Sprouts are for you, and why you should introduce them into your diet outside of Christmas!
1 – Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances which can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are waste substances produced by cells that attack important molecules within our body. Free radicals cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to a variety of conditions including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and many more. Tests have shown that Brussels sprouts are absolutely jam-packed with antioxidants – most notably an antioxidant called kaempferol which has the potential to slow cancer cell growth.
2 – May Help Protect Against Cancer
Whilst any claims of cancer prevention through nutrition are widely unproven, initial research has demonstrated some possibility that the nutrient-dense powerhouses within the cruciferous vegetable family can activate a cancer-fighting enzyme system in your body and even trigger pre-cancerous cells to self-destruct. This suggests that adding more of this superfood to your diet could be a powerful anti-cancer strategy, most beneficial against cancers including melanoma, prostate, esophageal, pancreatic, liver, colon and ovarian cancers.
Whilst more research into their benefits is needed, we would always recommend eating a vegetable-rich diet, and the nutrients present in sprouts are too good to be ignored.
3 – High in Fibre
As the old Christmas jokes go, we have all heard about what will happen if you eat too many sprouts! But, in reality, brussels sprouts can be extremely beneficial to your digestive health. Like most cruciferous vegetables and types of cabbage, brussels sprouts contain a high level of dietary fibre. Fibre can help to bulk up the stool and promote healthy digestion by reducing constipation and stimulating peristaltic motion, which helps food move through the digestive tracts more smoothly and prevent intestinal discomfort.
4 – Rich in Vitamin K
Studies have also demonstrated that the wonderful Vitamin K present within Brussels Sprouts can contribute to strong bones and protect you against osteoporosis. Vitamin K helps to seal the calcium into the bones, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures. By sealing the calcium into your bones, it also prevents calcium from hardening in your arteries and causing cardiovascular disease. Most prominently, Vitamin K is known for helping to ensure your body clots properly, allowing wounds to heal quickly and with as little scarring as possible – in addition to reducing bruising after injury.
5 – May Help Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Containing an anti-oxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, Brussels Sprouts have been researched extensively for potential effects on blood sugar and insulin – a hormone that’s responsible for transporting sugar from your blood to your cells to keep your blood sugar under control. As such, Brussels Sprouts may have a preventative anti-diabetic effect and improve symptoms for diabetics.
6 – Contain ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, Brussels Sprouts have an amazing 135mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in each 78g serving. Whilst this form of omega-3 fatty acids is less effective than fats from fish and other seafood, for vegans, veggies and seafood-haters – it’s an ideal choice. Omega-3 has been linked to a tonne of wonderful health benefits including the slowing of cognitive decline, reduction of insulin resistance and a decrease in inflammation.
7 – May Reduce Inflammation
Suffering from an inflammatory condition like arthritis or gout? Our little mini-cabbage friends can help! Brussels Sprouts contain a substance called glucosinolates which regulate the body’s inflammatory response, helping you to get back on track and manage pain. Within your body, glucosinolates are broken down into metabolites, which have an antibiotic-like effect and help to ward off bacterial, viral and fungal infection in the intestines and other parts of the body.
8 – Boost Immune System
One of the singularly most impressive characteristics of brussels sprouts is their high Vitamin C content – amazingly, a single cup of brussels sprouts contains more than 120% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C! This is critical for the health of your immune system, as vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, reducing oxidative stress from free radicals and lowering your chances of chronic diseases and infections. Vitamin C has also demonstrated immunity super-strengths such as aiding your skin’s defence system, shortening wound healing time and shortening the recovery time from conditions such as pneumonia.
9 – Increase Metabolism & Boost Weight Loss
Becoming increasingly popular with dieters, Brussels Sprouts have a great effect on weight loss by helping you to feel more full, whilst delivering a whole plethora of vitamins and minerals to boost your health. Maintaining a low sodium and fat content, Brussels Sprouts work alongside low-sodium and low-fat diets very easily. Brussels Sprouts also contain a lot of B-family vitamins which help to achieve a health metabolism, enabling your body to easily digest food, use nutrients more effectively and burn calories faster.
The Bottom Line
From reading this article, it’s easy to see that there’s not much that Brussels Sprouts can’t do. Whether you’re suffering from health problems or are seeking preventative or healthier nutrition options, we urge you to reconsider your hatred! Introduce these little wonders into your diet tomorrow. Just remember – don’t overcook them.