Pass the Veggies: Why Brussels Sprouts Rock!

I used to HATE Brussels sprouts so much when I was a kid…but, boy do I love them now! Not only are they a nutritional powerhouse, but they're one of the most versatile veggies out there. Plus, they’re so easy to prepare that I eat them a few times a week!!

Brussels sprouts look like little baby cabbages and are a part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, and kale.

They are low calorie, and are extremely nutrient-dense, which gives them a very high nutrient to calorie ratio.

Why you want them in your life

Did you know that one cup of Brussels sprouts contains more than your daily need of both Vitamin K AND Vitamin C?

Research indicates that 37% of Americans do not get the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. Just imagine…that number would be 0% if everyone just ate one cup of this yummy veggie per day!

Brussels sprouts are high in protein for a vegetable (4 grams per one cup serving). They also contain a ton of antioxidants that help repair damage from free radicals (oxidative stress) which can cause systemic inflammation, as well as autoimmune and other diseases.

Nutritional highlights:*

*from one cup, raw, shown as % of Daily Value

Breaking Down the Amazing Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts:

1. Dental and Bone Health

  • Brussels sprouts are very high in Vitamin K, which protects us from conditions resulting from loss of bone density, such as osteoporosis and bone fractures

  • Vitamin K is also vital for blood clotting and protects neurons from oxidative damage.

2. Controls inflammation

  • The anti-inflammatory properties of Brussels sprouts come from Vitamin K, Vitamin C, various antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Good fiber content also helps lower levels of inflammation

[if !supportLists]3. [endif]Heart Health

  • Vitamin K, Vitamin C, various antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids all work together to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and keep arteries healthy to reduce the risk of heart attack.

4. Healthy Digestion

  • These veggies contain 4g of fiber per one cup serving!

  • Fiber regulates digestion, helps maintain a healthy gut flora, and protects the gut from damage.

  • Vitamin A also helps maintain the gut lining to help prevent leaky gut, which is a pre-cursor to autoimmune disease.

5. Reduces risk of cancer

  • Antioxidants and manganese protect against and repair free radical damage, or oxidative stress, which can lead to cancer.

  • Studies show that eating Brussels sprouts specifically can reduce the risk for colon cancer.

6. Immune Health

  • Vitamin C helps control persistent infections.

  • Vitamin A & antioxidants help regulate the immune system and assist with normal functions of inflammatory cells.

7. Nerve Function

  • Vitamin K protects nerves from oxidative damage

  • Potassium – necessary for nerve function, as well as cardiac function and muscle contraction. Potassium is also critical for proper function of every single cell of the body

8. Decreases risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

  • Antioxidants help slow absorption of glucose into the blood and increase insulin sensitivity, which will in turn reduce risk of developing diabetes.

9. [endif]Multiple benefits of Folate (Vitamin B9)

  • Folate is essential for the metabolism of carbs, proteins, and lipids (fats) in EVERY cell of the body

  • Red blood cell production

  • Normal cell division

Tips for Buying & Storing Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a cool-weather crop that can be purchased loose or on the stalk. Look for heads that are about ¾” to 1½” in diameter. The leaves should be tightly wrapped – the fewer open leaves, the better – and should be light green in color with no brown spots.

Remove loose or yellowed leaves and store Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge. They should be used within 3 - 4 days to minimize the loss of vitamins and nutrients. Brussels sprouts also tend to lose their sweetness the longer they are stored.

While it’s best to leave them untrimmed, they can also be trimmed ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Avoid washing them until you are ready to prepare them, as washing them earlier can help speed decay.

Tips for Preparing Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are amongst the most versatile of veggies. They can be roasted, baked, steamed, sautéed, or shredded into a salad. They can be made sweet or savory, simply or more elaborate. The number of recipes are endless!

Note: Because Vitamins K and A are fat-soluble vitamins, preparing Brussels sprouts using a “good” fat such as olive oil, camelina oil, avocado oil, coconut oil or ghee can help with vitamin absorption.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare them:

Super simple:

  1. Trim ends and slice in half.

  2. Toss in oil of your choice.

  3. Season with salt & pepper

  4. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender enough to eat

Additional ingredients to add on their own or in combination:

  • Onions

  • Walnuts

  • Bacon or Turkey bacon

  • Walnuts

  • Pine nuts

  • Maple syrup

  • Honey

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Cranberries

  • Butternut squash

And...a few of my favorite recipes:

Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts (The Paleo Mom/Lisa Bryan)

Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash & Cranberries (AIP/Paleo)

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Leeks (Kevin Is Cooking)

Shaved Brussels Slaw with Hazelnuts, Apple, & Mint (The Paleo Mom)

Do you have a favorite Brussels Sprouts recipe? If so, please share in the comments below!

Resources:; Effects of consumption of Brussels sprouts on intestinal and lymphocytic glutathione S-transferases in humans; 1995.; Brussels Sprouts, Raw: Nutrition Facts & Calories.; The Best Way to Store Brussels Sprouts.

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body; Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, 2013.

Janelle is a Certified Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor who is passionate about helping people find their best health and happiness. She specializes in helping those with Crohn's and other autoimmune diseases optimize their nutrition and lifestyle to reclaim their lives. Whether you want to make big changes, or simply want to learn how to bring healthier choices and more energy into your life, she can help!!

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