While the origins of Brussels sprouts are unknown, the first mention of them can be traced to the late 16th century. They are thought to be native to Belgium, specifically to a region near its capital, Brussels, after which they are named. They remained a local crop in this area until their use spread across Europe during World War I. Brussels sprouts are now cultivated throughout Europe and the United States. In the U.S., almost all Brussels sprouts are grown in California.
Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family and therefore kin to broccoli and cabbage. They resemble miniature cabbages, with diameters of about 1 inch. They grow in bunches of 20 to 40 on the stem of a plant that grows as high as three feet tall. Brussels sprouts are typically sage green in color, although some varieties feature a red hue. They are oftentimes sold separately but can sometimes be found in stores still attached to the stem. Perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts have a crisp, dense texture and a slightly sweet, bright, and “green” taste.
Brussels sprouts are available year round; however, they are at their best from autumn through early spring when they are at the peak of their growing season.
Brussels sprouts is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, E and one of those few vegetables that have traces of the B vitamins.
In the minerals department, this “tiny cabbage” is rich in manganese, potassium iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, molybdenum, and even some omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
Some of the known disease-fighting phytochemicals include coumarins, dithiolthiones, glucosinolates, indoles, isothiocynates, phenols and sulforaphane.
Brussels sprouts provide numerous health benefits including:
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Antioxidant properties
- Cancer prevention
- Cardiovascular support
- Digestive support
Anemia: Brussels sprouts have high iron content, a vital mineral that together with vitamin B6 release energy used in the manufacture of red blood cells for the prevention of anemia.
Blood pressure: As with most vegetables, the high amount of potassium in this food helps regulate the body’s cells that are essential for most metabolic processes, including maintaining a normal blood pressure.
Bone and dental health: The high calcium content in Brussels sprouts aids in maintaining high bone density and dental health.
Cancer prevention: The Brussels sprouts together with the others in the same family, i.e. broccoli and cabbage, offer anti-oxidant indole, and other compounds that are unique for preventing cancer.
Cardiovascular support: Various necessary compounds are packaged into these “little cabbages” to work synergistically to help regulate blood circulation for the prevention of inflammatory problems in, and the support of, the cardiovascular system.
Colon health: Brussels sprout has anti-inflammatory effect that help prevent chronic inflammation that leads to certain bowel conditions. When eaten, its dietary fiber is important for normal bowel work and protects the colon from cancer-causing damage.
Common cold and flu: A cup of Brussels sprouts contain more Vitamin C than an orange making it an ideal vegetable for the prevention of common cold and flu.
Digestive system: The amino acid glutamine in Brussels sprouts juice is very gentle and calming on the digestive system, detoxifying, repairing ulcers, healing and regenerating. For therapeutic purpose, take this juice in small amounts three times a day on an empty stomach. Mix with some carrot and celery juice if the taste is unpalatable for you.
DNA protection: When Brussels sprouts is taken daily it can help stabilize the DNA inside the white blood cells through the activity of sulphotransferase.
Energy booster: The protein, nutrients and rich enzymes found in Brussels sprouts provide energy to the body, keeping the body free from fatigue.
Immune system: A compound called histidine in Brussels sprouts is found to be useful in treating allergies and regulating the T-cells in our immune system.
Pregnancy support: Brussels sprouts is high in folate (B9) which helps in fetal development. Before and during pregnancy, folate prevents the occurrence of neurological defects, such as spina bifida, in the fetus.
Vision: The precursor Vitamin A makes this vegetable essential for maintenance of a perfect vision. The high anti-oxidants help prevent cataract and various other eye problems.
Weight loss: The high protein and low fat/calorie content make this vegetable ideal to be included in a weight loss diet. Its rich nutrients keep your body cells satiated, preventing cravings and bingeing.
Wounds, cuts and injury: Protein and manganese help repair broken tissues when the body sustains a cut or injury. The potassium is helpful in blood clotting and folate aids in healing wounds. A perfect food to eat in bigger amount when healing from an injury or surgery.
How to Select and Store
Good quality Brussels sprouts are firm, compact, and vivid green. They should be free of yellowed or wilted leaves and should not be puffy or soft in texture. Avoid those that have perforations in their leaves as this may indicate that they have aphids residing within. If Brussels sprouts are sold individually, choose those of equal size to ensure that they will cook evenly.
Keep unwashed and untrimmed Brussels sprouts in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Stored in a plastic bag, they can be kept for 10 days. If you want to freeze Brussels sprouts, blanch them first for three to five minutes. They will keep in the freezer for up to one year.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Before washing Brussels sprouts, remove stems and any yellow or discolored leaves. Wash them well under running water to remove any insects that may reside in the inner leaves.
Brussles sprouts cook quickly and taste the best when they are cut into small pieces. We recommend either cutting them into quarters or chopping them into smaller pieces and then letting them sit for 5 minutes before cooking to enhance their nutritional benefits.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Brussels Sprouts
Steaming Brussels sprouts is the best way for maximum nutrition and flavor.
Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil. Depending if you half them or quarter them steam for 5 – 6 minutes.
While Brussels sprouts are usually served as a side dish, they also make a nice addition to cold salads.
How to Enjoy
- Since cooked Brussels sprouts are small and compact, they make a great snack food that can be simply eaten as is or seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine quartered cooked Brussels sprouts with sliced red onions, walnuts or almonds, plus cranberries or raisins. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an exceptionally healthy, delicious side dish or salad.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, QUINOA & POMEGRANATE SALAD
Courtesy of: Camilla – http://powerhungry.com/2013/03/roasted-brussels-sprouts-quinoa-pomegranate-salad/
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ⅔ cup pomegranate arils
- Leaves from 1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- Roast Brussels sprouts: Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange, cut sides down, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast 40 to 45 minutes, without turning, until outer leaves are tender and very dark brown. Cool to room temp on sheet.
- Cook Quinoa: Meanwhile, bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes (with lid still on). Transfer to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and let cool.
- Finish Salad: Add the cooled Brussels sprouts to quinoa in bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, chickpeas, pomegranate and parsley; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper or your favorite spices. Serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.