Health

All Hail Brussels Sprouts!

brussels sproutsOn the tail end of the Brussel Sprout season, let’s talk a little about how their simple addition to your diet can deliver several health benefits.

High in Nutrients

Brussels sprouts are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re especially rich in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. They’re also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps promote iron absorption and is involved in tissue repair and immune function. What’s more, their high fiber content helps support regularity and gut health. In addition to the nutrients above, Brussels sprouts contain small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus.

Rich in Antioxidants

The last time we talked about antioxidants we were discussing blueberries, but Brussels sprouts have an impressive antioxidant content themselves. To refresh your memory, antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress in your cells and help lower your risk of chronic disease. One study found that when participants ate about 2 cups (300 grams) of Brussels sprouts daily, damage to their cells from oxidative stress decreased by 28%! Brussels sprouts are especially high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that has been studied extensively for its many health-promoting properties such as reducing cancer cell growth, easing inflammation, and improving heart health.

May Help Protect Against Cancer

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that the high levels of antioxidants in Brussels sprouts could help protect against certain types of cancer and there are several possible ways this may work. A 2008 study found that Brussels sprouts could protect against carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, and prevent oxidative damage to cells. In another small study, eating Brussels sprouts increased the levels of some detoxification enzymes by 15–30%. The researchers hypothesized that this effect could potentially lead to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer, though further research is needed.

High in Fiber

Just a half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber, fulfilling up to 8% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber is an important part of health and including a good amount of it in your diet affords many health benefits. Studies show that dietary fiber can relieve constipation by increasing stool frequency and softening stool consistency to ease passage and promotes digestive health by helping feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Increased fiber intake has been associated with other health benefits too, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and improved blood sugar control.

Rich in Vitamin K

Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin K. In fact, just a half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 137% of your daily vitamin K requirement! This important nutrient plays a vital role in the body and is essential for coagulating blood when needed. Vitamin K may also play a role in bone growth and could help protect against osteoporosis, a condition characterized by progressive bone loss.

May Help Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

In addition to their impressive nutrient profile and long list of health benefits, Brussels sprouts may also help keep blood sugar levels steady. Multiple studies have linked an increased intake of cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, to a decreased risk of diabetes. This is likely because Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels as it moves undigested through our bodies and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood.

Contain ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

For those who don’t eat fish or seafood, eating enough omega-3 fatty acids can be a challenge. Plant foods only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s used less effectively in your body than the omega-3 fats from fish and seafood. Brussels sprouts are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They have 135 mg of ALA in each half-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts.

May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation can contribute to diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies have shown that the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts possess anti-inflammatory properties.

High in Vitamin C

Brussels sprouts provide 81% of your daily vitamin C needs in each half-cup cooked serving. Vitamin C is important for the growth and repair of tissues in the body. It also acts as an antioxidant, is involved in the production of proteins like collagen and may even enhance immunity. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, but Brussels sprouts are one of the best vegetable sources available. Adding one or two serving of Brussels sprouts to your diet a few times a week can help you meet your needs.

Easy to Add to Your Diet

Brussels sprouts make a healthy addition to any diet and are easy to incorporate into side dishes and entrées. People often enjoy them roasted, boiled, sautéed or baked. Brussels sprouts can also be added to pasta, frittatas or stir-fried dishes for a flavorful and nutritious dinner.

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

INGREDIENTS

Yields 6 servings

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup; toss to coat. Sprinkle with bacon; season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy and Brussels sprouts are caramelized, 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

We’d love to hear from you! How do you like your Brussel Sprouts? Leave us a comment here or head over and join in the conversation on Facebook (don’t forget to give us a “like”) and Twitter.

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Let’s catch up soon,

Julie

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