Surprising Superfoods : Brussels Sprouts

While Brussels Sprouts from childhood may conjure well earned feelings of contempt, give them another try. Before you go “uggh!” at the mere mention of the much maligned sprout note that it is packed full of good stuff. Yes, most vegetables are but did you know that in a 100grams of sprouts there is 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement? Even more importantly they have anti-cancer properties AND they can boost DNA repair in cells. That’s reason enough to buy these beauties! Also, for those of you who want to go easy on the calories there are only 43cals per 100g and a third of those are fibre. In the last few years sprouts have been reinvented – no longer the boiled mushy balls that rolled around on our plates, try roasting them and enjoy the taste!

What’s good about them?

So what makes sprouts so good for you?  Well, they’re loaded with nutrients of all kinds, both macro and micro, and most definitely help your body out in all sorts of ways.  Not to mention they can really bulk up a meal so you avoid overeating. When cooked just right, brussels sprouts are quite tender and delicious, and I bet if you haven’t had them in a few years (due to painful childhood memories) that if you tried them again in your maturity you’d be surprised to find they’re pretty tasty, especially compared to certain other veggies.  

In more detail:

Fibre:  Sprouts have quite a bit of fiber in them. One cup of brussels sprouts has about 7 grams of fibre (that’s a lot!).All this fibre supports digestive/colon health, and also can assist in slowing the digestion of food so that the body more effectively uses what it’s given. This can also prevent, to a certain degree, rapid fat gain, because it gives your body a longer time to use the food you’ve eaten.  So get your fibre, and stay on track

Heart Health:  Brussels sprouts are great for your heart in a couple different ways.  Firstly, they lower your LDL (so called ‘bad’) cholesterol.  They also help to create a substance in the blood called isothiocyanate (ITC) sulforaphane which has anti-inflammatory properties and may even be able to repair damaged blood vessels

Omega-3:  How on earth can brussels sprouts have an essential fatty acid in them, I hear you ask? After all there’s only 0.6 grams of fat in an entire cup!  But you’ll be happy to know that the little bit of fat brussels sprouts do have is ALL good for you, and is also is anti-inflammatory as an added bonus

Anti-Oxidants:  Brussels sprouts are chock full of anti-oxidants:  everything from vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, ferulic acid, and a special one called D3T (3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione) that’s actually quite rare in food.  All these anti-oxidants help to prevent oxidation damage to your cells, which in turn can have effects on preventing several kinds of cancer, including lung, colorectal, prostate and breast

Vitamins and Minerals:  Eating a serving of brussels sprouts is better than taking a multi-vitamin.  In one cup of brussels sprouts you’ll be getting nearly 200% of your daily value of vitamin K, and 120% of your daily vitamin C.  You’ll also be getting a large helping of folate, manganese, and vitamin A

And also: A diet high in sprouts can also lower your chances of developing multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure and diabetes

Preparing sprouts

In the home garden, “sprouts are sweetest after a good, stiff frost”

Selecting and storing Brussels sproutsSelect firm brussels sprouts and avoid any that have leaves that are wilting, yellow or loose. Sprouts are best eaten on the day of purchase but can be kept in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. To freeze, blanch for a few minutes. This is done by immersing in boiling water for a couple of minutes then removing, and placing in cold water to stop the cooking process. Place in a plastic bag or airtight container and freeze for up to one year

Cooking Brussels sprouts

Before cooking Brussels sprouts wash and trim off any brownish leaves. Cut an X in the bottom of the stem to help the heat disperse throughout the leaves and allow for even cooking. Immerse in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes. If not serving immediately plunge into cold water to prevent overcooking, and then reheat prior to serving. Overcooking brings out the strong sulphurous odour and flavour that puts many people off sprouts
Brussels sprouts are normally served as a side vegetable either boiled or steamed. For a bit of variety try roasting them along with your favourite herbs or spices. Other serving ideas include halving them and adding them to a stir-fry or slicing them to put in salads

Include a cup of steamed, boiled or roasted brussels sprouts in your diet twice every week, and you should notice changes in your general well being within a month

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