Brussels sprouts comprise of a wild variety of cabbage, belonging to the plant family Brassicaceae. Available all round the year, they come in branches of around 20 to 40, on the stem of a plant, and have a sweet taste, with crisp and slightly dense texture. Although the exact origin of this crop is unknown, Brussels are thought to be native to Belgium, particularly to a region called Brussels, after which the vegetable has been named. The ideal temperature for the cultivation of this vegetable is around 45 to 75° F or 7 to 24°C. It has a high nutrition levels is are especially rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and folic acid. Hence, it enhances the body’s resistance to a number of health problems and immunological defects. In fact, they are thought to be very effective against colon cancer, due to the presence of a compound called sinigrin. Given below are some of the most important health benefits of Brussels sprouts.
Health Benefits Of Eating Brussels Sprouts
- Recent studies and continuous research has revealed that phytonutrients present in certain cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, initiate the production of certain enzymes that are involved in the process of detoxification, by sending certain signals to human genes. It is this process of detoxification that helps in the elimination of harmful compounds from the human body.
- Consumption of cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, also provides defense against prostate, colorectal and lung cancer. However, it is always advisable to choose the organically grown varieties, as they are higher in the phytonutrient levels.
- Vitamin C, one of the most important water-soluble antioxidant in the body, is present in high amounts in Brussels sprouts. This vitamin is very essential for the production of collagen (a protein), which is the basis of a number of body structures, like the skin, connective tissue, tendons, and cartilage. In addition, the vitamin is important for strengthening the body immune system.
- Brussels also aids in promoting a healthy colon and helps in preventing diseases like colon cancer and diverticulosis. This is due to the presence of high amounts of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) in sprouts. It is approximated that a single cup of Brussels sprouts contains around 4 grams of fiber. In addition, the regular intake of fiber helps in the easy passage of stool.
- The vegetable is also effective in the prevention of plague formation in blood vessels of the body. Apolipoprotein, a cholesterol transporter, is considered to be the main carrier of LDL to tissues and high levels of this cholesterol have a negative effect on normal cardio-vascular function. Sprouts prevent this by lowering the secretion of this transporter, with the aid of a phytonutrient, indole-3-carbinol.
- Folic acid, an essential vitamin for the proper development of neural tube in babies, is present in Brussels sprouts. Deficiency of this vitamin is linked with the development of a number of congenital defects in newborns, like spina bifida. It is estimated that a single cup of sprouts has around 93.6 mg of folic acid.
- Research has also indicated that vitamin C-rich foods, like Brussels sprouts, provide protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a type of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) involving two or more joints.
- Intake of sprouts can sometimes cause flatulence, because of their high carbohydrate content, which is very difficult for the body to digest.
- Brussels sprouts do not normally cause allergic reactions and are low on oxalate and purine content.
- A popular method of preparing sprouts is by removing the buds from the stalk first, cutting any additional stems, and then discarding the surface leaves that get loosened by this cut.
- The common techniques for cooking this vegetable include steaming, boiling and roasting.
- For the purpose of cooking the vegetables, always choose the ones that are similar in size.
- While cooking, ensure that the vegetable is not over cooked, as this will cause the release of the sulphur-smelling glucosinolate, sinigrin. To avoid this, the sprouts should be cooked for a maximum of 6 to 7 minutes.