7 Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts (yes with an s, like the city) are named after the veggie’s history of cultivation in Belgium. Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, the sprouts' cousins include cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, and bok choy.
Low in calories, at less than 40 per cup, Brussels sprouts are also low-carb, packing just 8 grams per cup raw, including 3 grams as fiber. And they’re nutrient powerhouses, providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a little bonus plant protein. Here are seven more impressive reasons to incorporate them into your regular eating routine.
Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants
Brussels sprouts are antioxidant powerhouses. One study found that when volunteers ate about two cups of Brussels sprouts per day, damage at the cell level was slashed by nearly 30%.
They’re high in fiber
The fiber in Brussels sprouts (about 4 grams per cooked cup) helps regulate blood sugar levels, supports digestive health, and helps feed the beneficial gut bacteria tied to positive mood, immunity, and anti-inflammation.
RELATED: 15 Best Superfoods for Fall
They pack a vitamin C punch
One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts packs over 150% of the minimum daily vitamin C target. This important nutrient acts as an antioxidant, supports immunity, vision, and iron absorption, and is needed for collagen production.
Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin K
Per cup, cooked Brussels sprouts pack over 250% of the recommended daily target for vitamin K. In addition to helping to clot blood, this nutrient plays a role in bone health and may help protect against bone loss.
They may reduce inflammation
The anti-inflammatory power of Brussels sprouts is tied to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Their anti-inflammatory compounds, which protect cells from DNA damage, also fend off aging and may help manage inflammatory conditions, including type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity. In one study, women who consumed more cruciferous veggies had lower levels of certain marketers of inflammation in their blood and urine.
Brussels sprouts provide disease protection
Compounds in Brussels sprouts act like natural detoxifiers, meaning they help deactivate potentially damaging chemicals or shuttle them out of the body more quickly.
In addition, the sulfur compounds in Brussels sprouts are known to reduce ulcer risk by limiting Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) overgrowth and preventing bacteria from clinging to the stomach wall.
They help with blood sugar regulation
Several studies have linked an increased intake of cruciferous vegetables to a decreased risk of diabetes.
This is likely due to their antioxidant power and fiber content. The latter helps regular blood sugar and insulin levels.. Brussels sprouts also contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid that’s been studied for its potential ability to help improve insulin function.
RELATED: 7 Delicious Brussels Sprout Recipes
How to prepare Brussels sprouts in a tasty way
Brussels sprouts often appear on the most loathed veggie list. I find that’s often the case when they’ve only been consumed boiled, which can result in a somewhat slimy, stinky experience.
One of the most delicious ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts is oven roasted. Simply slice or quarter, lightly toss in extra virgin olive (EVOO) or avocado oil, sea salt, and black pepper, and cook 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees until the outer leaves are golden and slightly crisp. They can also be shaved and added to garden salads or skewered whole and grilled. Use EVOO sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts as a bed for lean protein, like salmon or lentils. Or add them to omelets, stir-fries, and soups.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health's contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a nutrition consultant for the New York Yankees.
To get more nutrition and diet tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Balanced Bites newsletter.