Chances are, your mother told you to eat your Brussels sprouts, that they were “good for you.” You probably heeded her advice, but did you ever stop to think about why they were good? Today you’ll find out.
Brussels sprouts are packed with nutrients
Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and have several of the same health benefits as broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, collards, and kale, which similarly are brassicas. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamins A (as beta carotene), C, and K, several of the B-complex vitamins, and potassium, manganese, and iron. A 100-calorie serving also has almost seven grams of fiber! Somewhat more surprisingly, Brussels sprouts provide useful amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids at very low caloric cost.
Can Brussels sprouts help reduce disease risk?
Brussels sprouts confer exceptional benefits in reducing risk of common diseases, in part because of their phytonutrient content. Brussels sprouts, like other brassicas, are rich in glucosinolates; the body uses those phytochemicals to make compounds called isothiocyanates. These in turn have several amazing properties:
- They reduce oxidative stress and keep systemic inflammation in check. One glucosinolate, glucobrassicin, is converted to a compound, ITC, which modulates expression of genes that are part of the body’s inflammatory response.
- Brussels sprouts contain compounds that are central to detoxification, which requires sulfur. The isothiocyanates AITC, I3C, PEITC, and SFN each play a role in activating the detox response. Antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin, caffeic acid, and kaempferol, all abundant in Brussels sprouts, play a prominent role in detoxification.
- Sulfur-containing compounds likewise serve as the raw material for D3T, a compound supplied by few other brassicas. D3T works in concert with vitamins A, C, and K to support the body’s antioxidant response.
- Glucosinolate-derived SFN helps protect the cardiovascular system by quenching inflammation in blood vessels.
Reduction of oxidative stress, detoxification, and control of the inflammatory response are central to reducing cancer risk. However, they also play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, fiber in Brussels sprouts helps lower total cholesterol by binding bile acids. When Brussels sprouts are lightly steamed, their ability to trap bile acids and carry them safely out of the body is markedly enhanced.
Brussels sprouts are also great for your digestive system. They reduce the risk of everything from Crohn’s disease and IBS to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. In addition, they help normalize immune response and lessen the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
What else should I know about Brussels sprouts?
Eating large amounts of Brussels sprouts daily was once believed to diminish thyroid hormone output, but recent tests suggest that there is no danger, especially if they are mildly steamed rather than consumed raw. Steaming also makes many of the phytonutrients more available, so enjoy your Brussels sprouts without regret. And look forward to a long, healthy life.
CATEGORIES: Diet, Vegetarian, Health Benefits, Cruciferous Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts, Green Vegetables