Brussels Sprouts 101

BrusselsSprouts (1)

People either love them or hate them, but there’s no denying that Brussels sprouts do wonders for your health. These little cabbage-looking veggies are loaded with nutrients that serve as anti-cancer agents. It’s never too late to overcome your childhood phobia of Brussels sprouts. Cooked properly, Brussels sprouts have a deliciously sweet taste that can be enhanced with a touch of salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Identification

Brussels sprouts look like miniature cabbages. The crop is made up of tiny leaves that stem from a stalk to form a compact round head. The color of the stalk and the sprouts ranges from lime to dark green.

Taste

The texture of fresh Brussels sprouts is crisp and dense. When cooked, Brussels sprouts taste richly sweet, with a hint of a delightful earthy flavor. They taste remarkably sweeter when roasted and drizzled with lemon juice.

Availability

Fresh Brussels sprouts are widely available in many supermarkets and food stores.

Season

Brussels sprouts are a cold-weather vegetable, thus their peak season runs from autumn until early spring.

Selection

Fresh Brussels sprouts feel firm and compact. Pick sprouts with the greenest leaves and tightest buds. Try choosing sprouts with a uniform size so they will cook evenly.
When choosing sprouts, watch out for yellowish and wilted leaves. Yellow leaves are a sign that the sprouts are old. Inspect the sprouts for dark spots, and avoid sprouts that are soft and puffy.

Organic Benefits

When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides. Currently, Brussels sprouts do not appear on any EWG list, so the non-organic version is not likely to be strongly affected by pesticides.

Storage

Gather unwashed sprouts in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for a week or longer. Sprouts that are still attached to the stalk remain fresh longer than individual sprouts.

Always blanch Brussels sprouts before freezing them. Start by plucking any coarse or loose outer leaves, then wash the sprouts thoroughly until you’re sure there are no residing insects. Boil the sprouts for 5 minutes, then plunge them into ice water to cool. Drain them, and pack into freezer containers. Keep sprouts in the freezer for up to about a year.

Preparation

Start by trimming the stems and removing any loose outer leaves. Rinse the sprouts thoroughly, or let them soak in salt water to eradicate any insects that might be crawling among the leaves. Cut large sprouts in half before cooking.

Sprouts can be boiled, microwaved, braised, roasted, or steamed. Be careful not to overcook sprouts, otherwise they lose a substantial amount of their anti-cancer compounds and nutrients. Sprouts usually take up to 10 minutes to cook.

Nutrition Summary

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eye that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bones. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.

Vitamin C

This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.

Fiber

A non-digestible carbohydrate, fiber provides a feeling of fullness, aids digestive support, helps provide the movement and excretion of bodily wastes, and aids blood-sugar stability.

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral responsible for building dense bones and teeth, muscle contractions, neurotransmitter health, and cardiovascular health.

Potassium

Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Medical studies claim that Brussels sprouts contain a chemical, sulforaphane, which acts as a cancer-preventive component. Glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts are also thought to fight against various common cancers, like breast, ovarian, lung, and prostate cancer. Moreover, ongoing research suggests that glucosinolates can be vital in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, amongst other conditions.
Brussels sprouts are also a rich source of fiber, which aids digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. Steaming Brussels sprouts ensures that you are getting the most out of the vegetable’s high fiber content.

Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins K and C, both of which function as antioxidants. One cup of sprouts contains 273.5 percent of the daily value of vitamin K and 161 percent of the RDA of vitamin C.

Little Known Facts
  1. Brussels sprouts are a member of the Brassica family, which also includes cabbages, collard greens, broccoli, and kale.
  2. Surveys conducted in the US and Britain reveal that Brussels sprouts are among the most-hated vegetables!
  3. Brussels sprouts are often cheaper if you buy them on the stalk.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.