Love them or loathe them, brussels sprouts are as much a part of Christmas as the twinkly lights, the tree and the turkey.
But this divisive winter veggie seems to be having a bit of a moment with many of us begging for them on our plates.
These leafy greens are a cruciferous vegetable, and while they may look bland, they’re actually one of the most nutritious side dishes around thanks to their high fibre content, rich vitamin profile and low-calorie count.
Famed for their nutty, earthy flavour, sprouts are a member of the brassicaceae family of vegetable and are cousins of the cabbage, broccoli and kale.
They’re often shamed for being rather soggy and pungent but, when cooked the right way, this humble winter staple has the potential to be the veg of dreams, rather than the stuff of childhood nightmares.
And with more of us turning to plant-based diets, chefs all over the UK are coming up with new and exciting ways to make the most of their unusual flavour, from serving them raw in salads, to frying them with pancetta as a delicious side and even shredding them for dessert.
But if you’re still on the fence about serving them to your dinner guests, musclefood has come up with six amazing reasons why the sprout should be for life, and not just for Christmas…
Brussels sprouts are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals with an 80g portion dishing up:
- 2g dietary fibre
- 81% RDI of Vitamin C
- 137% RDI of Vitamin K
Their high fibre content not only supports regularity and gut health, but it can also help regulate your blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol.
Sprouts are also high in Vitamin C, a rich antioxidant that promotes iron absorption, immune function and tissue repair.
What’s more, they’re especially rich in Vitamin K, which is essential for good bone health and blood clotting.
You’ll also find smaller amounts of Vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, all of which contribute to good overall health.
2. Low calories
An 80g serving of brussels sprouts will add just 28 calories to your daily calorie intake meaning your body will receive a massive vitamin and mineral bang for not much buck.
Of course, how you cook them can have an impact on this total. Frying them in butter with a couple of rashers of bacon may be super tasty but will add a stack of extra calories to your meal.
If you really want to keep the calories in check, shredding them and serving them in a raw salad is great way to reap all the rewards.
3. ALA Omega-3 fatty acids
As vegan diets continue to gain popularity, many followers struggle to get enough Omega-3 into their diets due to the lack of fish and seafood.
But Brussels sports are one of the best plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, with an 80g serving packing in 135mg of ALA – a type of Omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods. That’s 12% of the daily requirement for women and 8.5% for men.
These fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, reduce insulin resistance, slow cognitive decline and decreased inflammation.
While ALA is used less effectively in your body than the Omega-3 fats you derive from seafood or fish, by adding a few servings of sprouts to your diet each week you will easily reach your Omega-3 needs.
4. Inflammation reduction
Studies have shown that compounds found in cruciferous vegetable like brussels sprouts have anti-inflammatory properties and have even been associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.
They’re also rich in antioxidants, which can help neutralise the free radicals that can cause inflammation.
While inflammation is a perfectly normal immune response, chronic inflammation can contribute to more serious health concerns like diabetes and heart disease.
5. May cut diabetes risk
Recent studies have linked an intake of cruciferous vegetables, like brussels sprouts, to a decreased risk of diabetes.
This is because they can help keep blood sugar levels steady thanks to their high fibre content.
You see, fibre moves slowly through the body and actively slows the absorption of sugar into the blood.
This means the body won’t go through an insulin spike – the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from your blood to your cells – thus keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
6. Antioxidant abundance
It’s clear the humble brussels sprout has a lot of goodness wrapped up in its small green body, but above all else its antioxidant count really stands out.
Why is this important? Well, antioxidants are compounds that actively help reduce oxidative stress in cells, thus decreasing your risk of chronic illness.
Brussels sprouts are especially high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that’s been extensively studied for its health boosting properties and has been linked to a reduction in cancer cell growth, improved heart health and inflammation reduction.
Better yet, a recent study showed that when you eat about 300g of sprouts per day, the damage caused to cells by oxidative stress decreased by a massive 28%.
The Bottom Line
There is a wealth of health boosting greatness hiding inside this cruciferous winter veg. They’re high in fibre, rich in vitamins, packed with minerals and their antioxidant content makes them a must have for your dinner plate.