What’s So Great About Brussels Sprouts?

What’s So Great About Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts.

Horrible, bitter, little cabbages…


Delicious and good for you?

Depends on who you ask. Ceri is not a fan.  I, on the other hand, love Brussels sprouts, which is nice for me, because these little guys pack a big punch in cancer prevention. If you, like Ceri, are not a flag waver for Brussels sprouts not to worry because the nutritional power balls belong to the cruciferous family and if you prefer, you can find similar health benefits in arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and radishes, to name a few.

As with most fruits and vegetables, Brussels sprouts and their cruciferous cousins get a lot of attention for their cancer fighting attributes. What sets cruciferous vegetables apart, however, is their superior detoxification properties, which can be credited to the glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates help rid the body of toxins before they can damage cells and potentially cause cancer. And the glucosinolates content in Brussles sprouts is high even for cruciferous veggies –  higher even than kale. Furthermore, there is some evidence that eating cruciferous vegetables may slow or stop tumor growth.

The cancer battling Brussels sprout is loaded with antioxidant vitamins C, A and E, fiber, folate and iron. Much of the research conducted examines Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables in relation to hormonal cancers such as prostate, breast and ovarian cancers, but they are being examined for impact with colorectal and lung cancers as well. While none of the research I came across suggested eating Brussels sprouts would cure cancer, there is the suggestion that where nutrition and prevention are concerned, these vegetables play a vital role.

Dr. Emily Ho at The Linus Pauling Institute has conducted extensive research on cruciferous vegetables and prostate cancer. Her research has found that the sulforaphane (found in high levels in cruciferous vegetables) is an effective weapon against prostate cancer as it attacks unhealthy cells, but leaves healthy cells alone. While there are no official recommendations on how many servings of cruciferous vegetables one should eat a week, Ho says she personally tries to eat two servings a day. I can’t imagine that I could eat two servings of cruciferous vegetables a day (never mind getting them into the kids), but knowing how good they are for you, I’m going to try to mix it up a little more often.

If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it may be because you recall your grandmother boiling them within an inch of mush and slathering on the butter.  Instead, try cutting them in half, tossing them with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, and popping them in the oven for 20 minutes at 450 – give them a toss at the half way point.  Once cooked, they give off a nutty flavour and are a very satisfying side dish. If you want to get fancy, grate some parmesan over top when they come out of the oven. Sometimes, I roast mine with walnuts or try tossing in caraway seeds after 10 minutes of roasting, and then pop back in for another 10 minutes.  Di-vine. So who’s with me?

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  1. Yuki
    December 13, 10:16 Reply

    I grew up with them being boiled to brown-and-yellowy mushiness…then tossed in Imperial margarine. Blech. Love them now sauteed with good-quality natural bacon, especially a brown-sugar-and-brine cured bacon. I know, I know: bacon. But you really only need two strips to add a lot of flavour so it’s not that unhealthy!

  2. Courtney
    December 13, 11:08 Reply

    I used to hate Brussels sprouts until I made Julie’s Brussels sprouts with maple buttered pecans. {http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2010/10/11/brussels-sprouts-with-maple-buttered-pecans/} Sooooo good!

  3. Blake
    December 13, 14:29 Reply

    I love Brussels sprouts. My family eats them steamed with a pseudo-Hollandaise sauce made of sour cream and yellow mustard (mixed to taste–a light sunshiney yellow).

    I know, it sounds awful, but the mustard tang balances the Brussels bitterness very nicely. The sauce is also excellent with asparagus.

  4. trixi rittenhouse
    December 13, 18:32 Reply

    “Mush Ado About Nothing”
    Guilty as charged!
    Serving brussels sprout mush to Heidi.
    My sprout judgement was not impaired.
    Just following a family tradition.
    I had no qualms with mush.
    Those were my pre-Martha Stewart days.
    Now I am untethered and al dente.

    Crucivociferously yours
    Aunt T

    Brussels Scriptum
    Try hot pancetta instead of bacon.

    • Ceri Marsh
      December 20, 10:24 Reply

      Trixi! It’s good to see you here again! Thank you for the lovely Sprout Sonnet. And although I am not a Brussels Sprout lover I like the idea of pancetta, which improves just about anything.

  5. Al
    December 14, 11:02 Reply

    Amanda makes great sprouts with a recipe wherein she roasts them. Very good. In recent competition dishes she has carefully removed the leaves and given them a very brief deep fry, then seasoned very lightly. The slight crispyness with that sprout flavor is awesome.

  6. Jyll
    December 26, 07:42 Reply

    I’m with you! Well, I am now. I’m gonna give those bad boys another shot. Purple cabbage is about my favourite thing, but you’ve inspired me to attempt to bring these green balls back into my life too. 🙂

    • Ceri Marsh
      December 26, 10:05 Reply

      Did you give them a whirl for Christmas? I did and I must confess…. they were delicious!

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