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Brussels Sprouts: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Introduction:

Brussels sprouts are grown for their edible buds, and it is a part of the Gemmifera cultivar group of cabbages (Brassica oleracea). The leaf vegetables are about 0.6-1.6 inches in diameter and look distinctly similar to a miniature version of cabbages. Brussels Sprouts got its distinct name from Brussels, where it gained a lot of popularity. Although this vegetable is native to the Mediterranean region, it first showed up in the 5th century in Northern Europe. They came to be later cultivated near Brussels, Belgium, in the 13th century, and that is how this vegetable obtained its name.

Brussels sprouts

The first written citation of Brussels sprouts dates back to 1587. They were immensely popular in the Southern Netherlands, where they eventually spread to other parts of Northern Europe where the temperature was cooler. The taste of Brussels sprouts is held to be the sweetest after a frost.

Brussels sprouts can taste slightly bitter, and the reason for this was identified by the Dutch scientist Hans Van Doorn who attributed the bitterness to the presence of the chemicals progoitrin and sinigrin.

Nutritional Value of Brussels Sprouts:

Brussels sprouts are 9% carbohydrates, 3% protein, 86% water and a negligible amount of fat. With reference to 100 grams of Brussels sprouts, they provide about 20% of the daily value, 102% of the daily value of vitamin C, and 169% of the daily value of vitamin K. They also contain small amounts of B vitamins such as vitamin B6, essential minerals, folate and dietary fibre.

Brussels sprouts contain the phytochemical sulforaphane, which is lauded for its potential biological properties. Here are some major nutrients of 78 grams of cooked Brussels sprouts at a glance:

                       Nutrient                      Value
Calories28
Protein2 grams
Fibre2 grams
Carbs5.5 grams
Vitamin K91% of Daily Value (DV)
Folate12% of DV
Vitamin C53% of DV

Properties of Brussels Sprouts

  • Contains a high amount of vitamin K-1
  • It may be able to lower the risk of bone fracture and promote healthy growth.
  • Brussels sprouts are also a good source of calcium
  • Brussels sprouts are beneficial for people with diabetes
  • They may be able to reduce the risk of cancer due to sulphur-containing compounds
  • Brussels sprouts contain a significant amount of vitamin C, which improves skin health and maintains the vision
  • Brussels sprouts also support collagen production.
  • It may be able to help repair tissues.
  • Contains a high amount of antioxidants which neutralise free radical damage

Potential Uses of Brussels Sprouts

1. Rich in Antioxidants

Brussels sprouts have a number of health benefits, such as being rich in antioxidants. This compound prevents cell damage and promotes overall health. Consuming Brussels sprouts as part of one’s diet full of vegetables and fruits can help to provide the necessary quantity of antioxidants that the body needs in order to develop the aspect of good health.

2. Good Source of Vitamin K

Brussels sprouts are a vital source of vitamin K which is an important nutrient that plays a number of roles in one’s body. The nutrient aids in coagulation, which forms blood clots that help stop bleeding.

Vitamin K also plays a function in bone growth and provides protection against the condition osteoporosis, which is marked by progressive loss of bone density. So, if someone is on blood thinners, it is highly recommended that there is adequate consistency of vitamin K intake on a daily level. It is also important to be mindful of Brussels sprouts consumption which is high in vitamin K.

For those who are not on blood thinning medication, consuming a higher amount of vitamin K-enriched Brussels sprouts can prove to be beneficial.

3. Brussels Sprouts Have a Good Amount of Fibre

A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts supplies about 2 grams of fibre which is very important for one’s health. A significant amount of fibre in one’s diet provides a number of health benefits.

Dietary fibre is very essential because it helps alleviate the symptoms of constipation by softening stool consistency and increasing the frequency, making it easier for the stool to pass. A higher amount of fibre in one’s diet has also been found to provide other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disorders. For optimum fibre intake, consume Brussels sprouts along with other fibre sources such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables.

As per expert recommendations, for every 1,000 calories consumed, one should eat 14 grams of fibre.

4. Brussels Sprouts May Be Able to Reduce Inflammation

Although occasional inflammation is a normal response, chronic inflammation can have adverse health effects and can lead to disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Brussels sprouts are a rich source of antioxidants which help to negate the damage caused by free radicals, such as promoting inflammation. A high containing a good amount of cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts can lower the risk of pro-inflammatory disorders along with reducing inflammation.

5. Brussels Sprouts Can Maintain Blood Sugar Levels

Many studies conducted have revealed that consuming cruciferous vegetables in high amounts, such as Brussels sprouts, led to lowered chances of diabetes. This is due to the fact that Brussels sprouts which are high in fibre, help keep blood sugar levels stable.  So, consuming Brussels sprouts along with other nutritious food items can keep blood sugar levels steady.

6. Can Help to Improve Skin Health

Brussels sprouts are a good source of provitamin A which is available in the form of beta-carotene. A cup of raw Brussels sprouts can provide about 396 mcg of beta carotene, which is very important for improving the health and appearance of your skin.

Also Read: Alfalfa Sprouts Benefits: Uncovering Their Research-Based Health Properties

How to Use Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels Sprouts can be consumed in the following ways:

  • Boiling
  • Stir-frying
  • Steaming
  • Grilling
  • Roasting
  • Slow cooking

It can take about 45 minutes to cook Brussels sprouts evenly throughout.

Side Effects of Brussels Sprouts:

Although a healthy vegetable, consuming too many Brussels sprouts can be unsuitable for people on anticoagulants since it contains vitamin K, which results in blood clotting.

Another issue with consuming Brussels sprouts excessively is that it can lead to gas and bloating. Therefore, those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be found to be suffering painfully from consuming Brussels sprouts due to aggravated symptoms of gas and bloating.

Precautions to Take With Brussels Sprouts:

If you are consuming Brussels sprouts for the first time, you should incorporate them into your diet gradually to see if you are experiencing any gastrointestinal issues. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome are likely to experience a higher intensity of gas and bloating.

Additionally, if you are taking anticoagulants, you should consult a doctor before adding Brussels sprouts to your diet, as the vegetable contains vitamin K, which can interfere with the effects of the medications.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. How to purchase the best quality Brussels sprouts?

Ans: To buy fresh Brussels sprouts that are not unpalatable bitter, try to look for sprouts that are on the stalk. Such kinds of sprouts, along with small variants, tend to be more sweet, tender and fresh as opposed to their larger counterparts.

Q2. Do Brussels sprouts provide vitamin C?

Ans: Yes, every half a cup of Brussels sprouts provides about 48 mcg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the repair and growth of tissues in one’s body because it functions like an antioxidant boosting the production of proteins and strengthening immunity. So, incorporating about one to two servings of Brussels sprouts into the diet a couple of times a week can help one to meet their vitamin C requirements.

Q3. What are some ways I can add Brussels sprouts to my diet?

Ans: Brussels sprouts can be easily added to one’s diet and can be done so by incorporating them into entrees and side dishes. They can be added to frittatas, pasta dishes, stir fries and grills for a nutritious yet flavour-packed meal.

Q4. How long does Brussels sprout last?

Ans: If you are buying Brussels sprouts that are bright green and firm to the touch, they can last in the refrigerator for about one week before they start to spoil.

Q5. Can Brussels sprouts protect one against cancer?

Ans: Cruciferous vegetables that, include Brussels sprouts, are often bitter to taste because they contain sulphur compounds that, upon consumption and subsequent digestion, break down into active compounds that may be able to reduce the risk of cancer in certain organs. Additionally, Brussels sprouts contain the molecule chlorophyll that imparts the vegetable its distinct green pigment. Chlorophyll inside the body functions quite similarly to antioxidants counteracting the effects of the compounds contributing to certain types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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