Brussels Sprouts: Superfood Spotlight

Brussels sprouts grace our plates during the holiday season, bringing back memories of childhood avoidance. But as we grew up, we (or at least most of us) started to appreciate their unique taste and superfood qualities. Whether we have them as a side during Thanksgiving or torture our kids with taking a bite, it’s important to realize that these little cabbages come with a story of their own. During the reign of the ancient Roman empire, athletes devoured Brussels sprouts because they were seen as symbols of endurance and stability. Because Brussels sprouts became so popular in 13th century Belgium, these little veggies were named after the country’s capital, Brussels. They soon took over Europe and were brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by French settlers.

Good Things Come in Small Sizes

Brussels sprouts are baby cabbages! They’re members of the cruciferous family, along with some of our other favorites including collard greens, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. And it looks like being a part of the cruciferous family has its benefits! Adored in the health world for their cancer-fighting compounds, Brussels sprouts continue to fascinate foodies and scientists alike.

Brussels sprouts also contain sulforaphane (a phytochemical containing sulfur), which can inhibit the harmful enzyme, histone deacetylase (HDAC). HDACs are known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. Consuming more sulforaphane containing foods may help stop the production HDAC and help prevent certain cancers.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances “that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.” Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants, including Vitamin A and organosulfur compounds. Organosulfur compounds are a form of antioxidant that may help protect your cells from oxidative stress, a type of damage that can harm DNA. 

A Veggie with Benefits

Vitamin K (195% AI, 156mcg)

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in fat tissue and the liver. This vitamin supports bone density, overall bone, and joint health. It also helps your blood clot, which helps prevent excessive bleeding when injured.

Folate (15% RDA, 54mcg)

Folate is a naturally-occurring form of vitamin B9 that helps develop a healthy nervous system. It’s especially crucial for women who are pregnant or might become pregnant because it reduces the risk of serious birth defects.

Vitamin C (125% RDA, 75mg)

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the immune system and tissue growth and repair. It has also been shown to assist a healthy aging process, aid the absorption of iron, and form proteins that make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.

Brussels Sprouts Three Ways

Cooking Brussels can release their sulfur-containing gas (hydrogen sulfide gas), which gives them that distinct Brussels Sprouts smell. You can avoid the smelliness and still get the all the benefits of these superfood sprouts by sautéing them or eating them raw.

Roasted: slice in halves then season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil. Roast in 400-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes.

Sautéed: slice into quarters and throw them into a pan of olive oil, cooked shallots, salt, and pepper. Add vegetable broth or water to bring-out moisture. Cook on a medium-low heat till soft.

Shredded (raw): you can shred brussels sprouts using a food processor or mandolin. Toss the thin shreds with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve raw as a side or mixed with a salad.