Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Worship #11: Brussels Sprouts

I know what you're thinking...I'm crazy.  Those nasty little cabbages you used to hate as a kid?  Why would those be a super food?  Well as you might have guessed, their green exterior and dense, veggie "aura" means that like your mother said, they're remarkably good for you.  And you know what?  I personally believe they're absolutely delicious.  They're packed with fiber, and when cooked right they're dense and provide an incredibly satisfying bite, requiring just the right amount of effort to really know you've got some substantial food in your mouth.  Yup, I love brussels sprouts.  Sue me.

So what makes these things so good for you?  Well, they're loaded with nutrients of all kinds, both macro and micro, and most definitely help your body out in all sorts of ways.  Not to mention they can really bulk up a meal (these little guys fill you up fast, they're quite substantial for sure.)  Also, when they're cooked just right, brussels sprouts are actually quite tender and delicious, and I bet if you haven't had them in a few years (due to painful childhood memories) that if you tried them again in your maturity you'd be surprised to find they're pretty darn tasty, especially compared to certain other veggies.  Let's explore a little more in detail about why you should do just that, and how exactly you'd be doing your body good.

Fiber:  As I alluded to earlier, brussels sprouts have quite a bit of fiber in them.  In today's world, the more fiber you can get, the healthier you'll be and the better you'll feel.  One cup of brussels sprouts has about 7 grams of fiber (THAT'S A LOT!), and one sprout has about 1 gram of fiber.  All this fiber supports digestive/colon health, and also can assist in slowing the digestion of food so that the body more effectively uses what it's given. This can also prevent, to a certain degree, rapid fat gain, because it gives your body a longer time to use the food you've eaten.  So get your fiber, and stay on track.

Heart Health:  Brussels sprouts are great for your heart in a couple different ways.  Firstly, they lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.  That's awesome, because with all the processed food out there today you'll need a good cholesterol-lowering tool that's easy to cook up and munch on.  Brussels sprouts also help to create a substance in the blood called isothiocyanate (ITC) sulforaphane which has anti-inflammatory properties and may even be able to repair damaged blood vessels.  That's pretty awesome if I don't say so myself.

Omega-3:  Now I know what you're thinking, how could brussels sprouts have an essential fatty acid in them, after all there's only 0.6 grams of fat in an entire cup!  But you'll be happy to know that the little bit of fat brussels sprouts do have is ALL good for you, and also is anti-inflammatory.  Oh, and it'll support good cholesterol too, as an added bonus (as if there aren't enough bonuses to brussels sprouts already...)

Anti-Oxidants:  Brussels sprouts have so many of these it's astounding:  everything from vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, ferulic acid, and a special one called D3T (3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione) that's actually quite rare in food.  All these anti-oxidants help to prevent oxidation damage to your cells, which in turn can have effects on preventing several kinds of cancer.  Make brussels sprouts a lifetime habit and perhaps you'll have a better chance of warding off cancer throughout your entire life.  I'll take that kind of benefit any day.

Vitamins and Minerals:  Oh boy do brussels sprouts have a bunch of these.  Eating a serving of brussels sprouts is almost like taking a multi-vitamin.  In one cup of brussels sprouts you'll be getting nearly 200% of your daily value of vitamin K, and 120% of your daily vitamin C.  WOW!  That's impressive.  You'll also be getting a heaping helping of folate, manganese, and vitamin A.  But that's not even close to the whole story.  Here's the nutritional profile of brussels sprouts, courtesy of

Brussels Sprouts
1.00 cup, raw
88.00 grams
37.84 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin K155.76 mcg194.792.6excellent
vitamin C74.80 mg124.759.3excellent
manganese0.30 mg15.07.1very good
folate53.68 mcg13.46.4very good
dietary fiber3.34 g13.46.4very good
vitamin A663.52 IU13.36.3very good
potassium342.32 mg9.84.7very good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.19 mg9.54.5very good
tryptophan0.03 g9.44.5very good
vitamin B1 (thiamin)0.12 mg8.03.8very good
iron1.23 mg6.83.3good
phosphorus60.72 mg6.12.9good
protein2.97 g5.92.8good
molybdenum4.40 mcg5.92.8good
magnesium20.24 mg5.12.4good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin)0.08 mg4.72.2good
choline16.81 mg4.01.9good
vitamin E0.77 mg3.91.8good
omega 3 fatty acids0.09 g3.81.8good
calcium36.96 mg3.71.8good
vitamin B3 (niacin)0.66 mg3.31.6good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellentDV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very goodDV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
goodDV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

Also, at the top there you can see that one cup of brussels sprouts has only about 40 calories.  This WILL vary depending on how big the sprouts are, but never will brussels sprouts be considered a calorie dense food.  If you decide to munch on these babies you'll get full far before you do your figure any damage. sprouts!  They're FANTASTIC!  They taste great, are tender and juicy, go great with almost any lunch/dinner, and are packed with all the health benefits you could ever want.  Try them out ASAP, there are a lot of AMAZING recipes out there for them.  I like mine boiled/steamed, but you can add all sorts of things to them.  In fact, here's a fantastic yet simple recipe I found online that'll really spice up a plain dish of brussels sprouts:

Give them a try, what do you have to lose except an unhealthy body?  GOOD LUCK!!


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