If you don't like brussels sprouts you're doing it all wrong. With the right cooking method they can take on a delicious crunch and a subtle sweet flavor that complement so many ingredients for a healthy dish. You will be surprised to hear that these mini cabbages are packed with an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals.
Brussels sprouts are a type of cruciferous vegetable that demonstrates anti-carcinogenic properties. They are from the species Brassica oleracea and come from the cabbage family. The “sprouts” are produced in the leaf axils, starting at the base of the stem and working upward. Compared to other green vegetables, Brussels sprouts are high in protein, providing 2 grams per ½ cup. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C. The main bioactive compounds in Brussels sprouts are isothiocyanates (ITC's). There are more than 20 kinds of natural and synthetic derivatives of ITCs, and all of them have anti-tumor effects in different degrees. ITCs act as blocking agents of chemical carcinogens by inhibiting phase I enzymes and inducing phase II enzymes.
Health benefits of Brussel Sprouts:
- Brussel sprouts are rich in vitamin C, which helps the formation of cartilage, collagen, and bone. Vitamin C can also boos the immune system, release hypertension, and lower blood pressure.
- One cup of brussel sprouts contains almost 25% of the required daily amount of folate- folate works to suppress the amino acid homocysteine, which contributes to heart disease.
- Brussel sprouts are also rich in vitamin K, which is essential for proper brain and nerve function, protects bones, and serves as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- High in antioxidants, preventing free radicals from forming in the body and thus decreases cancer risks.
- Brussels sprouts also contain lutein and small amounts of zeaxanthin, yellow-colored carotenoids, that aid in vision. Research has shown that these two carotenoids play an important role in decreasing the incidence of age-related macular degeneration in adults.
- See the full nutritional profile of brussel sprouts here.
There are more than 20 kinds of natural and synthetic derivatives of ITC's, and all of them have anti-tumor effects in different degrees.
The active components of Brussels sprouts, ITC's, are metabolized in the body by a series of reactions. First, its precursor, glucosinolate, is broken down in the mouth by the enzyme myrosinase, which releases ITCs into the body. ITC's are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and just two hours after food intake, the blood contains the highest concentration of ITC's. ITC's encourage the production of protective enzymes, called phase II enzymes. They help to detoxify cancer-causing substances and prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer.
At the store or in the garden choose the small to medium, bright green sprouts for more flavor. The fresher the sprouts, the better the flavor, so refrigerator storage should not exceed a day or two.
When cooking, sauteing with coconut oil will bring out that sweet and nutty flavor you are going to love real quick. For roasting, we usually preheat at 450 degrees F, halve the sprouts, toss with some coconut oil, salt and pepper and roast (cut side down) on a baking sheet for 20-35 minutes. If you choose to go the boiling route, which honestly the easiest way to overcook them. warning: overcooking results in a mushy pungent mess). Also the boiling method isn't as delish in our opinion, but if you do, cut a small X in the stem end of each sprout, to help ensure the interior cooks in the same amount of time as the exterior. Then drop them into boiling, salted water and let simmer for no more than 8 to 10 minutes. Ohh and don't be afraid to just pop em raw..
These are the basics and really that’s all you need to know to make you want to eat them errrrr day.