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6 Reasons to Eat Brussels Sprouts

6 Reasons to Eat Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts deserve to be featured on dinner plates more often than they usually are. The unfortunate fate of many Brussels sprouts is overcooking, which is why so many people have unpleasant childhood memories of a nasty, sulfurous odour emanating from the stove. That smell is glucosinolate sinigrin, an organic compound containing sulfur that is released when Brussels sprouts become too soft. (You’ve got to respect a vegetable that has built-in protection against overcooking.)

Once you figure out a tastier way of cooking them — such as roasting with olive oil, or catching them in the steamer before they turn to mush — Brussels sprouts are a wonderful vegetable to add to your diet. Here are some interesting facts to inspire you to add them to your shopping cart immediately:

 

1. Brussels sprouts grow well in cool climates, making them ideal for locavores across North America.

They are hardy plants, able to survive frost and continue growing until a hard freeze hits. Some northern farmers bury their stalks of Brussels sprouts under hay and pick off the sprouts as needed throughout the winter. Where I live, Brussels sprouts are one of the few Ontario-grown vegetables available at supermarkets during the cold months.

 

2. Brussels sprouts are part of the Brassica family, also known as Cruciferous vegetables.

This includes vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and cress, among others. Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting glucosinolates, but Brussels sprouts top them all when it comes to total content.

 

3. Brussels sprouts are known to have health benefits.

In Chinese medicine, they are prescribed to help with digestion. There have been many U.S. studies done on the relationship between this vegetable and cancer prevention. Brussels sprouts are able to provide special nutrient supportfor the body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system, all of which are important for fighting cancer. Ironically, the benefits come from those same stinky glucosinolates that may have turned you off sprouts.

 

4. When combined with whole grains, Brussels sprouts make a complete protein.

That means they’re a great option for vegetarian meals. Like all fresh vegetables, they’re naturally low in sodium and fat, but they have a ton of vitamins A, K, C (more than an orange), B6, folate, potassium, fibre, iron, selenium, and calcium, plus all those antioxidant, cancer-fighting compounds mentioned above. Brussels sprouts are also said to increase male virility.

 

5. Brussels sprouts can help lower cholesterol.

The fibre-related nutrients in Brussels sprouts bind with intestinal bile acids, helping them to pass out of the body. This forces the body to replenish lost bile acids by tapping into the existing supply of cholesterol, which reduces it. One study showed that steamed Brussels sprouts bound 27 percent as many bile acids as a cholesterol-lowering prescription drug called ‘cholestyramine.’

 

6. Brussels sprouts have mysterious origins.

Food Republic says they were bred originally from wild cabbages found in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, though their name suggests otherwise. Brussels sprouts were cultivated in Belgium from the 16th century onwards, though other earlier versions were reported in ancient Rome. Another source says they’re native to Belgium, and were cultivated exclusively in a region near Brussels until World War I, when consumption spread across Europe.

 

Article by Katherine Martinko

Photo: CC BY 2.0 Nick Saltmarsh

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Vegetarian

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

159 comments

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10:58AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

I love them! But they forgot to add that brussels sprouts are a GORGEOUS plant that can get 3' high or higher!

3:42AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

Thanks

5:13AM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

thank you

12:38AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

::sigh:: Can we please move on from the "complete protein" myth? It was a flawed theory put out by a sociologist in a 70's book and she has since retracted it but now it's even being taught as fact (though without any basis) in medical and nutritionist/dietician schools (so how poor must those be?).

http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

As long as you are meeting your caloric needs with whole foods (not refined such as sugar, distilled alcohol, etc) then you are meeting your protein needs even if all you eat are Brussels sprouts.

~~
Also, these little gems are not called "Brussels sprouts" all over the world which might be an interesting consideration for anyone willing to step outside the English-centric universe.

"French fries" are called "pommes" in some countries near France, and in Belgium they are called "frites" instead.

3:58PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

believe it or not, I can't get my own Mother to eat them. The only real green veggie we ate when I was growing up was broccoli. So when I finally starting eating brussel sprouts, I fell in love....I cook them in a very simple way. First blanche them in boiling water for like a few minutes, drain and while that's happening, start cooking minced garlic with olive oil. But slow cook otherwise you'll burn the garlic. Begin sautéing the sprouts in with the garlic and add red pepper flakes for a little kick. My mom still won't eat them even when prepared this way. But my two year loves them as long as I cut them up. Enjoy!

11:41PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Thank you.

11:40PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Thank you.

5:32AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Novel idea to roast them,must give it a try.

10:30AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Funny I never ever tried them until a few yrs back and tho my version is less healthy I like to steam them and add a little butter and parmesan cheese. Delish!!!

1:05PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

thanks

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