Brussels sprouts offer a bunch of nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. But even though you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals from this veggie, brussels really don’t get enough love.
A cruciferous vegetable in the cabbage and mustard fam (aka Brassicaceae), brussels sprouts are also related to superfood faves like broccoli and kale.
But many folks are convinced they hate the veggie because they’ve only tasted bland, mushy, steamed brussels. And if we’re talking to you, you’re seriously missing out on the absolute culinary masterpiece that is the perfectly-cooked brussels sprout.
It’s time to give this bite-sized cabbage look-alike a second chance for taste and potential health benefits. And if you’re already a seasoned brussels fan, here’s more reason to continue eating sprouts by the plateful.
Brussels sprouts are LOADED with vitamins and minerals. The nutrition breakdown for a cup of cooked, plain brussels sprouts includes:
- Calories: 70
- Protein: 5.5 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 14.5 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
- Folate: 21% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 11% of the DV
- Thiamin: 17% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 129% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 238% of the DV
- Copper: 13% of the DV
- Iron: 13% of the DV
- Potassium: 13% of the DV
Some of these nutrients can be kinda difficult to get in a plant-based diet — like vitamin B6 and iron. And you’ll get a whopping amount of vitamin C and vitamin K — 129 percent of the DV and 238 percent of the DV (respectively) for just 1 cup!
We’ll take our multivitamin halved, tossed in oil, and roasted, thanks.
2. Low in calories
Brussels sprouts are also naturally low in calories, with a cup clocking in at just 70 calories. (Just note you’ll up the calorie count once you add oil!)
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain you’re weight, rounding out a meal with a heaping helping of brussels sprouts is an excellent way to add a LOT of food for just a little bit of calories. Plus the fiber will help you stay fuller and more satisfied.
3. Good for lower carb diets
And did we mention they’re low in carbs too? Like most Brassica veggies (think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), brussels sprouts are fairly low in carbs.
A cup offers about 14 grams of total carbs, but just 8 grams of net carbs since it also contains 6 grams of fiber. Good news, if you’re following a low carb or keto diet!
4. Full of antioxidants
Brussels sprouts are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, and sulfur-based compounds.
And, we know, the word “antioxidant” has become a bit of a buzzword. We almost expect to see it slapped on the food label every time we pick up a healthy-ish food product.
But antioxidants do play a really important role. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are compounds that can build up in your cells over time and cause damage (known as oxidative stress) when they reach high enough levels. These ROS are introduced through our natural biological processes — so a small amount of them are healthy and necessary! But free radicals from foods, drinks, polluted air, and household products may also contribute to their formation.
These ROS may be a factor in premature aging and a number of health problems, as they can cause cells to die before their time. However, antioxidants (get it? AntiOXidants?) can help to neutralize ROS and reverse oxidative stress.
Just one of many reasons to love these little pocket-sized cabbages.
Brussels sprouts are also a great source of fiber, with a cup (cooked) containing 6 grams.
As you may have heard, fiber helps you poop. Bless you, fiber!
However, the benefits of fiber are way more extensive than that. Fiber serves as a food source for the healthy bacteria that live in your large intestine. When these bacteria digest fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids that can help optimize your blood sugar levels, immune function, hunger hormones, and even your brain.
6. May have neuroprotective properties
Kaempferol — one of the key antioxidant compounds in brussels sprouts — may help protect your brain.
In a 2013 lab study, researchers found that rat nerve cells given kaempferol extracted from brussels sprouts for 4 weeks had significantly lower levels of oxidative stress. Researchers also noted boosted protection from amyloid beta peptide toxicity (which is thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease).
Keep in mind, though, that this was a lab study on animal cells and no actual brussels sprouts were eaten. So we don’t know for sure how these effects might play out in a person who just enjoys a good serving of brussels sprouts.
7. May help reduce cancer risk
Brussels sprouts may have some cancer-protective properties. But say it with us: BRUSSELS SPROUTS WILL NOT CURE CANCER.
The antioxidants in brussels sprouts can generally help keep your cells functioning in an optimal way. But an old test-tube study also found brussels sprout extracts may help protect your DNA from damage caused by carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. This might help prevent damaged or cancerous cells from replicating.
These test-tube studies offer an amazing area of opportunity for future research (and a great excuse to eat all the brussels sprouts), but the science isn’t 10/10 proven.
8. May boost your immune health
Brussels sprouts are absolutely loaded with vitamin C, providing over a day’s worth in just 1 cup.
In addition to being an antioxidant, research shows vitamin C plays a key role in immune health in a few different ways. It helps support healthy skin, which of course is a major physical barrier to disease-causing pathogens.
Vitamin C is also essentially a “power-up” for immune cells, helping them to more effectively target, attack, and eliminate cells or organisms that they’ve identified as harmful.
Additionally, high doses of vitamin C may also help to prevent and treat respiratory infections. It’s thought that under these extremely stressful conditions, the body’s vitamin C needs may actually increase.
9. Good source of plant-based omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for brain health, heart health, and inflammatory balance, but plant-based eaters can sometimes find it hard to get enough.
If you can’t bear to choke down any more flax seeds, adding some brussels sprouts may help you get enough omega-3s in a much tastier way. (We are (o)mega pumped about this! 😉 )
A cup contains 0.16 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, the key omega-3 fat that our bodies use, which is approximately 10 percent of our daily omega-3 needs.
10. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Brussels sprouts may also offer some anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is an immune response that’s totally normal and healthy when illness or injury occur. It actually draws additional immune cells to the site so that the threat can be neutralized and healing can start ASAP. However, inflammation can go a little haywire sometimes and stick around for longer than it needs to, or cause a more widespread, inflammatory process.
This type of chronic, systemic inflammation is associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
However, anti-inflammatory agents — like the powerful antioxidants in brussels sprouts — *might* help to decrease levels of inflammation in your body and promote more balance.
11. Good for your eyes
Brussels sprouts are really good for your peepers. They contain a decent amount of beta-carotene, an antioxidant pigment that the body can convert to vitamin A (which is important for vision). Brussels sprouts also contain excellent-for-your-eyes carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the primary pigments found in your eye, and researchers have found that lutein and zeaxanthin in food may help to support eye health by protecting against blue light and oxidative damage.
Brussels sprouts are high in vitamin K, which may interfere with blood-thinning medications like warfarin. Vitamin K can actually promote blood clotting, so people on blood thinners are advised to keep their vitamin K intake consistent and not too high.
If you’re on blood thinners, you talk with your doc before you start harvesting those brussels sprouts in your backyard.
Some folks may also be sensitive to veggies in the Brassica family and get gas or abdominal pain. So, if you typically have this kind of reaction to broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower, you may want to take it easy on the brussels, too.
You can buy sprouts fresh or frozen, and there are endless ways to cook them. To prep for any recipe, all you really need to do is give your sprouts a good wash and slice off the stem end of the sprout.
A favorite (and a classic) way to cook fresh brussels sprouts is to slice in half, toss in oil, and place flat side down on a baking sheet. Then roast in the oven at 400°F (204°C) until the bottoms are perfectly crispy and the rest of the sprout is tender (about 30 to 40 mins).
You can also shred fresh, raw brussels sprouts to make delish salads.
Feel inspired? Here are some of our favorite recipes:
- Charred brussels sprouts with bacon & dates
- Roasted brussels sprouts with almonds and pecorino
- Brussels sprouts and lemon risotto
- Curry brussels sprouts
- Sauteed brussels sprouts with fried capers
- Shaved brussels sprouts salad
- Brussels sprouts and apple hash
- Brussels sprouts salad with anchovy dressing
- Roasted pear and cranberry brussels sprouts
- Brussels sprouts with kimchi and bacon
Brussels sprouts are surprisingly packed with nutrition for being so tiny and cute. They contain several vitamins and minerals, along with some seriously powerful antioxidants — and even some plant-based omega-3s.
They’re also low in carbs and calories, rich in fiber, and provide some anti-inflammatory, antioxidant benefits. Just be careful about eating brussels sprouts if you’re taking a blood thinner.
And remember: I shout, you shout, we all shout for BRUSSELS SPROUTS! 📣