By: Amy Dusseldorp, Nutritionist
There's no coincidence that Brussels sprouts resemble a miniature cabbage; both are members of the Brassica family of vegetables. The name of this nutritious vegetable can be traced back to its origins, as the Brussels sprout is thought to be native to Belgium, in particular a region near the nation's capital, Brussels. They were a local crop in the area until World War One when their use spread across Europe and are now cultivated all over the world.
While the western population appears to be divided in their opinion of Brussels sprouts there is no denying that they have many health benefits. in this article, we explore the 4 health benefits of eating Brussels sprouts.
An excellent source of vitamins
Brussels sprouts are high in Vitamin K, a nutrient that protects against blood clots, immune-boosting Vitamin C, and folate, the vitamin necessary for healthy brain and nerve function and the proper development of growing babies.
Digestion, satiety, and to feed our gut biota
A cup of sprouts contains about four grams of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, helping keep bowels regular and promoting satiety after a meal. Fibre from Brussels sprouts is also great fuel for our bacteria, which we now know leads to a healthy and happy mind.
Scientists have found that sulforaphane, one of the powerful phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, enhances the body's detoxification enzymes, possibly by changing gene expression, thereby helping to clear potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances more quickly. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition also suggests that sulforaphane may help stop the proliferation of breast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.
Researchers in the Netherlands examined the effect of a diet high in Brussels sprouts on DNA damage. They compared two groups of healthy male volunteers, during which five men ate a diet that included 300 grams of cooked Brussels sprouts daily, while the other five men ate a diet that contained no cruciferous vegetables. After three weeks, the group that ate Brussels sprouts had a 28 percent reduction in measurable DNA damage. Decreased DNA damage may translate to a reduced risk of cancer since mutations in DNA allow cancer cells to develop. (Source: whfoods.com)
Selecting, storing and cooking
Good quality Brussels sprouts should be firm and bright green in colour, with no evidence of yellowing or wilted leaves. Buy loose to inspect for any discolouration. The best time to buy Brussels sprouts is when they are in season, from late Autumn through Winter. Store in plastic bags in the crisper section of the fridge, where they should last for about 10 days.
Rather than a tip this should be a rule - over-cooked Brussels sprouts are probably the reason many people loathe them - they are mushy and they smell. A perfectly cooked sprout should be neither crunchy nor mushy, just tender enough for the knife to slide through. One serve is equal to about three Brussels sprouts.
Cooking Tip:Trim off any loose outer leaves and clip the end stalk. Using a small sharp knife make a cross base of each stalk (approx 5 mm deep) and boil in plenty of water uncovered for 5 - 8 minutes until tender.
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