Brussels Sprouts

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 02. Oct. 2020
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​​Small but powerful: the vitamin C content of the small brussels sprout surpasses that of all the larger members of the cabbage family. Brussels sprouts are not only packed with nutrients, but also delicious, and have made a comeback in recent years as cooks have increasingly began to integrate this mighty vegetable into an array of dishes. 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts...

  • ...are loaded with vitamins. Brussel sprouts are packed with immune system-strengthening vitamin C: just 100 grams contains a full 112 milligrams of the essential vitamin, more than exceeding your daily dose. Brussel sprouts are also a great source of vitamins A and B.
  • ...stimulate digestion. The bitter substances in brussel sprouts also stimulate the digestive juices and enzymes in the liver, bile and pancreas.
  • ...promote blood formation. With 1.1 grams of iron per 100 gram serving, brussel sprouts supply a considerable amount of the mineral. This makes it particularly attractive for vegetarians or for those suffering from iron deficiency.
  • ...are good for almost everyone. Because of its structure and composition, brussels sprouts are particularly digestible. Even those who normally suffer from flatulence and stomach aches after eating cabbage can usually eat brussel sprouts without any problems.
  • ...can help protect against cancer. Studies have shown that brussels sprouts can help aid in preventing some types of cancer, including stomach, intestine and lung. Brussels sprouts also render harmless the cancer-promoting substances that can be formed in the body by grilled meat.
  • ...are good for your stomach. The bitter substances contained in brussel sprouts soothe irritated stomach lining, and can sometimes eliminate mild stomach aches.

What You Should Know About Brussels Sprouts

In recent years brussels sprouts have become a staple in home kitchens and high-end restaurants alike. For decades brussels sprouts weren’t nearly as popular as they are today, mainly due to the bitter taste that was long-associated with the vegetable. However that bitter taste has largely been harvested out of the newer breeds of brussels sprouts.

Origins

Brussels sprouts originate from Belgian, where they were first grown by farmers near Brussels towards the end of the 16th century. From there the vegetable spread throughout Europe and and eventually to the U.S.

Seasonality

Brussels sprouts’ peak season is from September to January, but you can still find them in many markets until early spring. Similarly to kale, brussel sprouts taste best after the first frost of the season, which is why many people prefer to enjoy them from October or November.

Flavor

Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family, and this shines through in their flavor. They have a strong, but unobtrusive and slightly peppery taste which is amplified when they are cooked.

How Healthy Are Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are rightly regarded as a vitamin bomb: they are among the top suppliers of vitamin C, with just 100 grams of the vegetable covering the daily requirement of 115 milligrams. Brussels sprouts also contain B vitamins, some potassium, zinc, vitamin K and fibre.

Since they contain relatively little water, brussels sprouts are slightly higher in calories than other types of cabbage. However with almost 0 grams of fat, they’re still a good option for those watching their figure or deiters. The sugar content in brussels sprouts increases after the first few frosts of the harvest, so later-season brussels sprouts are particularly digestible, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. 

Several studies show that frequent consumption of brussels sprouts has a detoxifying effect and may help reduce the risk of cancer. Researchers at the University of Vienna, for example, found that eating brussels sprouts can render the cell-damaging and cancer-causing substances from very strongly roasted or grilled meat virtually harmless.

Find all our brussel sprout recipes here.

Brussel Sprouts Nutritional Info  
Calories 36
Protein 4.5 g
Fat 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 3.3 g
Fiber 4.5 g 

Shopping and Cooking Tips


Shopping

When buying brussels sprouts, make sure the head is green, not yellow, and tightly closed. When touched, fresh brussels sprouts should feel firm to the touch and not give way to the touch. When cut, fresh brussel sprouts have a smooth and almost white surface.

Storage

Fresh brussels sprouts can be stored unwashed and uncleaned in your refrigerator for four to five days. Do not store them with apples or tomatoes, as they both contain a ethylene, a gas which will make the sprouts wilt faster. Freezing fresh brussels sprouts is also an option, however be warned this will make the sprouts lose some of their firmness.

Preparation

Preparing brussels sprouts takes some time, but it is very simple. First remove the outer leaves until only the smooth green head remains. Cut back the stems and cut them crosswise for larger heads so that the sprouts cook more evenly. Finally, wash and drain the sprouts.

After cleaning, cook for four to five minutes in boiling salted water, drain, allow to cool and pack in freezer tins or bags.

If you prefer brussels sprouts with a more subtle taste, add a pinch of sugar to the cooking water or cook the sprouts in vegetable stock. Both take away some of the brussels sprouts' intense cabbage flavor.

What To Make With Brussel Sprouts

Raw brussels sprouts are hard on the stomach and don’t have much flavor, so you should always cook them briefly no matter how you’re serving them. However make sure not to cook them too long, as overcooked brussels sprouts lose their taste and nutrients. When cooking brussels sprouts keep an eye on their firmness-- they are ready when they are still relatively firm to the bite.

Brussels sprouts are a perfect side dish for meat and poultry, and game, and great in vegetarian dishes as well. Try pairing brussel sprouts with a fresh pasta or tofu dish.  If you pluck the leaves off one by one and flash-steam them, you can also toss them in a delicious couscous salad.

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