6 amazing health benefits of seasonal Brussels sprouts
As sprout season is in full swing, Liz Connor finds reasons to pile more of these nutrient powerhouses onto your dinner plate this winter
They’re the divisive festive vegetable that often split opinion at the dinner table more than Brexit or football. But there’s good reason why your mum insisted on making you endure a forkful of Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day.
These little vegetables, known as cruciferous, might look mediocre, but they’re quietly one of the most nutritious side dishes going, thanks to their high antioxidant content, rich cocktail of vitamins and surprising versatility.
Loved and loathed in equal measure, sprouts have a nutty, earthy taste and are a member of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables; their close relations include the cabbage, broccoli and kale. They gained their name after becoming a staple of the Belgian diet in the 16th Century, although they’re thought to have originally found their way to the UK from Afghanistan.
Sprouts often get a bad rep for being soggy and slightly pungent, making them fated to be scraped into the bin. But the key to getting the best out of their unusual flavour is often in cooking them correctly.
With more of us turning to plant-based diets, the humble sprout is experiencing something of a rejuvenation, with chefs stirring them into raw salads or sauteing them with honey and balsamic vinegar to make exciting flavour combinations.
If you’re still on the fence about serving them to your dinner guests, we’ve found plenty of good reasons why sprouts are for life, and not just for Christmas…
1. They could protect against cancer
While quitting smoking and regularly exercising is sensible advice to reduce your risk of cancer, the NHS also advises eating a vegetable-rich diet to safeguard your health.
Several studies have suggested that sprouts have particular cancer-fighting potential, thanks to their high antioxidant count, which can ward off harmful free radicals that contribute to diseases like cancer.
Research from a 2008 study found that sprouts could protect cells against carcinogens and from oxidative DNA-damage, although more research into the subject is needed.
2. They’re high in fibre
Fibre is not only important for regular bowel movements, but it can also improve cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels and can help to prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
A 100g serving of the winter sprout contains 3.5 grams of fibre, and we all know that every little bit helps when it comes to hitting your daily count.
Not only is fibre handy for digestive issues, it can also help you to feel fuller for longer, curbing the cravings for seconds or thirds of Christmas pudding, if you’re trying watch your waistline.
3. Sprouts are rich in vitamins and nutrients
One of the best things about the humble sprout is its portfolio of nutrients, minerals and all-important vitamins. As well as fibre, each sphere packs a punch of vitamin K (which helps blood to clot), vitamin C (necessary for growth and repair) and vitamin A (good for vision and eye health).
They’re also high in folic acid, which is important for producing and maintaining red blood cells, and maganese – an essential nutrient for optimum brain health. That means you’re keeping the nervous system in good nick and some of your body’s enzyme systems too when you serve up sprouts.
4. They’re low in calories
Half a cup (or 78 grams) of sprouts contains just 28 calories, which is why you’ll often find them included in healthy weight loss recipes.
Of course, it all depends how you prepare them – frying them with butter and bacon is never going to be super healthy – but adding sprouts raw to a salad is a good way of reaping their low-calorie benefits.
5. They contain ALA omega-3 fatty acids
You’d have to be living under a very large rock to miss the rise in veganism. And for those of us who chose not to eat fatty fish, getting enough omega-3 can be a challenge.
These fatty acids are crucial for brain health, helping to slow cognitive decline and fight against depression and anxiety.
Sprouts are brilliant source of omega-3 fatty acids, with around 135 mg of ALA in each 78 gram serving. Although it’s worth noting that plant-based omega-3 is used less effectively in your body in comparison to fish and seafood, because your body needs to convert it to more active forms. For this reason, vegans and vegetarians are encouraged to eat a greater amount of plant-based sources to reach their daily recommended amount.
6. They’re good for bone health
Thanks to their high vitamin K content, sprouts are a great way to keep your bones in tip top shape. Studies have found that this essential vitamin is helpful in increasing bone density and limiting fractures in osteoporosis patients, as well as decreasing the risk of bone injury in postmenopausal women.
Most doctors would advise that anyone taking blood-thinning medication should moderate their vitamin K intake, but your GP can advise you on any questions or concerns you might have about your diet.
If you’re thinking of upping your cruciferous veg intake, but you’re still developing a stomach for sprouts, you can balance out the flavour with a bit of garlic and olive oil in a hot pan. Or, if all else fails, whizz them up in the blender with banana, mixed berries, oranges and honey, to create a super sprout smoothie with a sweeter kick.
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- World Penguin Day: Test your knowledge with our penguin-themed quiz - April 25, 2019
- Want to cut down on sugar? How to slash your intake in 6 simple steps - April 24, 2019
- Kate shares snaps of Louis to mark prince’s first birthday - April 23, 2019
- MS Awareness Week - April 22, 2019
- ‘Deadly pollen bomb’ due over Easter – 10 tips to ease allergy symptoms - April 17, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!