A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brussels sprouts are thought to be native to Brussels, Germany, after which they are named. While they have an unique flavor profile that many may find bitter, when cooked perfectly, these little cabbage heads have a crisp, dense flavor that will leave you hooked. Plus, Brussels sprouts provide immense health benefits especially in cancer prevention.

Disease/Ailment:

Chronic inflammation
Inadequate detoxification
Oxidative stress
Cancer prevention
Cardiovascular disorders
Elevated cholesterol

Health Benefits:

Anti-inflammatory: Isothiocyanate compounds present in Brussels sprouts help to shut down the metabolic processes that produce components needed in the inflammatory system.

Antioxidant: Brussels sprouts are one of the most concentrated vegetables with vitamin C, a premier antioxidant nutrient. In addition, it has phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids that function as key antioxidants.

Detoxification: Phytochemicals in Brussels sprouts called glucosinolates are converted into isothiocyanates in our bodies, which aid in both phases of the detoxification process. In addition, Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-rich nutrients, which are needed in the second phase of detoxification.

Cancer prevention: Due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-detoxification properties, Brussels sprouts are highly influential in cancer prevention.

Lowering cholesterol: The fiber-related nutrients in Brussels sprouts bind some of the bile acids in the intestine and are eliminated in the stool. When this happens, the liver needs to replace the lost bile salts by drawing from its cholesterol stores and thus lowering cholesterol levels.

Good source of:

Vitamin C, K, manganese, folate

Purchasing, storing, and enjoying:

Purchasing: Brussels sprouts are frim, compact, and vivid green. Avoid sprouts with yellowed or wilted leaves. Brussels sprouts are sold prepackaged or in bulk and are available year-round, but their peak growing season is from autumn to early spring.

Storing: Keep unwashed and untrimmed sprouts in the refrigerator where they can be kept for ten days. If you want to freeze Brussels sprouts, blanch them for 3-5 minutes and freeze them for up to a year.

Enjoying:

  • Before washing Brussels sprouts, remove stems and damaged outer leaves.
  • Steamed: Steaming will retain the most nutrients in Brussels sprouts and is the most effective in gaining the health benefits of lowering cholesterol and eliminating toxins.
  • Roasting: Roasting brings out the flavors of the vegetables which still maintain a bit of the crunch. Cut Brussels sprouts in halves and sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper for an easy and delicious side dish.

Resources & recipes:

Roasted Brussels sprouts: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-brussels-sprouts-recipe2/index.html

Cranberry Citris Brussels Sprout Salad: http://foodsforlonglife.blogspot.com/2010/11/raw-vegan-brussels-sprouts-salad-with.html

Caramelized Brussels sprouts: http://theveganroad.com/recipes/caramelized-brussels-sprouts/

 

References:

Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):298-300. 2009.

Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March; 55(3): 224-236. 2007.

Hoelzl C, Glatt H, Simic T, et al. DNA protective effects of Brussels sprouts: Results of a human intervention study. AACR Meeting Abstracts, Dec 2007; 2007: B67. 2007.

Kahlon TS, Chiu MC, and Chapman MH. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage. Nutr Res. 2008 Jun;28(6):351-7. 2008.


About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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