Exactly How Healthy Are Brussels Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts aren’t just healthy—they’re really healthy. For relatively few calories, they supply an unbelievable amount of nutrients and they even have anti-cancer properties. If you haven’t already worked this cruciferous into your regular diet, now is the time to start.
Keep reading to find out exactly how Brussels sprouts can promote good health, plus the best and easiest ways to cook them.
Brussels Sprouts Basics
Brussels sprouts are a member of the Brassicaceae, also known as the mustards, or cabbage family. These include a number of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and arugula. The peak season for Brussels sprouts is September to mid-February, but they’re readily available enough to be enjoyed year-round. That’s a good thing, because these pint-sized cabbage lookalikes can be as delicious as they are nutritious.
When roasted or sautéed until crispy and tender, Brussels sprouts have a pungent aroma and earthy, nutty flavor. They make an easy side dish to roast chicken, pork, or beef—and they can also add life to whole grain salads and egg dishes.
Brussels Sprouts Nutrition
Brussels sprouts are naturally low in calories and sky-high in nutrients. From a nutrition standpoint, they pack impressive bang for your buck. Here’s how a standard one cup serving of raw, uncut Brussels sprouts stacks up nutritionally:
Saturated Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fats: 0g
Added Sugars: 0g=
Calcium: 2% DV
Potassium: 8% DV
Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber, a key nutrient that helps maintain a healthy gut. Specifically, the type of fiber in Brussels sprouts is soluble fiber which helps keep food moving through our digestive tract. However, excessive amounts of soluble fiber are known to cause some not so fun side effects, such as bloating and gas.
While you won’t find vitamin K listed on nutrition facts, Brussels sprouts—as well as all members of the cabbage family—are an absolute goldmine for this nutrient. A one-cup serving supplies 156 mcg, which is well over 100% of your daily needs. To put that into perspective, the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin K is 120mcg. In the body, vitamin K produces proteins that help your blood to clot more normally.
In addition to vitamin K, Brussels sprouts are also an excellent source of vitamin C. A one-cup serving of Brussels sprouts contains 75 mg, a little over 75% of your daily needs (90 mg). Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which acts as a building block for the body by binding muscles, bones, and other tissues together. Vitamin C also promotes healthy gums and a strong immune system. If that isn’t enough, this nutrient also acts as a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant.
Brussels sprouts also contain phytonutrients, which are different from nutrients like vitamin K and C. Phytonutrients, or plant chemicals, are only found in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In the body, phytonutrients are believed to help ward off or reduce the risk for certain chronic diseases. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Brussels sprouts contain several different types of phytonutrients, specifically sulforaphane and isothiocyanates.
Healthiest Ways to Cook Brussels Sprouts
Now that you know all of the wonderful things that Brussels sprouts can do for you, it’s time to start cooking. If you aren’t sure how to prepare Brussels sprouts, worry not. Check out these healthy Brussels sprouts recipes for our best and most delicious ideas.