Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. They are a rich source of fiber and vitamins C and K, which can support overall health.  

You can prepare Brussels sprouts by sautéing them with garlic and olive oil or serving them with lean protein and whole grains. Just keep in mind that Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and gas if you eat too many. Read on to learn about the nutrition of Brussels sprouts and how to incorporate them into your diet.

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There are a little over 3 grams (g) of fiber in one cup of Brussels sprouts. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels, support digestive health, and feed beneficial gut bacteria. Gut bacteria have been shown to boost mood, support immunity, and reduce inflammation.

Vitamin K helps blood clot and may protect against bone loss. Brussels sprouts contain 156 mcg of vitamin K per cup. This amount is more than the recommended daily value (DV) for adults, which is 90–120 micrograms (mcg).

Brussels sprouts are also a source of vitamin C, with about 74 milligrams (mg) per cup. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which protects against cell damage. The vitamin also helps repair tissue and supports immune health. Vitamin C is essential to the growth of bones, teeth, skin, and cartilage.

Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Phytonutrients are plant nutrients that lower inflammation and protect cells from damage to the DNA. The potential anti-inflammatory power of Brussels sprouts is tied to a reduced risk of cancer.

The antioxidant power of Brussels sprouts has been associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Research has shown that an increased intake of cruciferous vegetables might decrease the risk of diabetes.

Cruciferous vegetables also regulate blood sugar. Managing blood sugar is an important part of treating diabetes. Brussels sprouts are non-starchy vegetables. These vegetables tend to be low in carbs and can, therefore, keep blood sugar levels from getting too high.

Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants, which protect cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are harmful substances that might increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. Some of the antioxidants in Brussels sprouts include chlorophyll, flavonoids, and polyphenols.

The nutrition of one-half of a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts is as follows:

  • Calories: 28.1
  • Fat: 0.39 g, or 0.5% of the DV
  • Sodium: 16.4 milligrams (mg), or 0.7% of the DV
  • Carbohydrates: 5.54 g, or 2% of the DV
  • Fiber: 2.03 g, or 7.25% of the DV
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 1.99 g, or 3.98% of the DV

Brussels sprouts are also a source of folate, in addition to vitamins C and K. Folate, which is one of the many B vitamins, helps form red blood cells and DNA.

Brussels sprouts have quite a few benefits, but there are some things to consider before eating them. You may want to avoid the vegetable, for example, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The fiber content in Brussels sprouts might worsen IBS symptoms.

Be mindful of how many Brussels sprouts you eat at one time. Consuming too much fiber can lead to digestive problems, such as bloating and cramps.

You’ll also want to be cautious if you take blood thinners. Brussels sprouts are a source of vitamin K, which can interact with blood thinners.

These vegetables can affect levels of iodine, or a mineral that helps produce thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the center of your neck that helps regulate metabolism, among many other bodily functions. Brussels sprouts contain goitrogens, or substances that affect the body’s iodine use. This impact on iodine levels can affect the ability of the thyroid to produce hormones for metabolism.

Make sure you prep Brussels sprouts properly before eating them. You’ll want to rinse and scrub the vegetables with cold water. Remove leaves that look damaged, as well as the stem.

One of the best ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts is by oven-roasting them. Slice or quarter and then lightly toss Brussels sprouts in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook for 30–40 minutes at 400 degrees until the outer leaves are golden and slightly crisp.

Other ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts include:

  • Adding the vegetables to omelets, stir-fries, and soups
  • Pulling them apart and baking them with EVOO to be served as chips
  • Sautéing and shaving them as a bed for lean protein (e.g., salmon or lentils)
  • Shaving and adding them to garden salads or as part of slaw
  • Skewering and grilling the vegetable whole

Brussels sprouts are a source of fiber and may reduce inflammation. This cruciferous vegetable offers nutrients, including antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

There are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts, from roasting and grilling them to adding them to salads and soups. You may want to be cautious when eating Brussels sprouts if you have IBS or take blood thinners.

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