Brussels sprouts belong to the Brassicaceae vegetable family. They are closely related to collard greens, cauliflower, and kale. They resemble mini cabbages and boast high levels of many nutrients which provide numerous health benefits of plant based diets.
Brussels sprouts are high in nutrients and low in calories. The vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber found in Brussels sprouts provide significant benefits of plant based diets. Dietary fiber is essential for digestive health whereas vitamins play a key role in boosting the body’s immune system.
A half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts can provide the following nutrients:
Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for the formation of blood clots that stop bleeding. However, if you take blood thinners such as warfarin too much vitamin K could prevent them from working as they should.
For most people, boosting vitamin K may reap many health benefits of plant based diet. This vitamin plays a huge role in bone growth and can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition characterized by progressive bone loss.
A review of seven studies found that vitamin K supplements can increase bone strength and reduce the risk of bone fracture in postmenopausal women. Another study conducted in 2017 linked a low vitamin K intake to a higher risk of bone fracture.
Brussels sprouts contain the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). A 2019 review found that supplementing with this antioxidant can lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and decrease nerve damage in diabetics.
Some studies suggest that antioxidants found in Brussels sprouts could help protect against some cancer types. Also, the antioxidants can neutralize free radicals formed by oxidative stress that could cause cancer in some people. A study found that when participants ate about two cups of Brussels sprouts per day, cell damage was reduced by up to 30%.
Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamin C, a renowned antioxidant essential for normal growth and development. The nutrient keeps your immune system strong and helps maintain the health of your skin, teeth, and gums. Vitamin C also protects the cell from damage which in turn reduces the risks of cancer and heart disease.
A half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides up to 8% of your daily fiber needs. Dietary fiber is vital for gut health by relieving constipation and feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut. It can also help prevent irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and lower the risk of colorectal cancer. The high fiber content in collard greens is a benefit of plant based diet that improves overall heart health by lowering cholesterol.
Dietary fiber in Brussels sprouts helps regulate blood sugar levels. Fiber moves slowly through the gut undigested and slows down the absorption of sugar in the blood.
Inflammation is a normal body immune response. However, if left unchecked it can contribute to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Brussels sprouts have anti-inflammatory properties. A study found that a higher intake of Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables is linked with lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.
The antioxidants in these vegetables fight the free radicals that can cause inflammation. Research shows that kaempferol – one of the main antioxidants in Brussels sprouts – has great anti-inflammatory properties.
Commonly known as folic acid, folate is a B vitamin present in large doses in Brussels sprouts and other leafy green vegetables. Folate is a vital benefit of plant based diet as it plays a role in the formation and maintenance of DNA. It also aids in the formation of the neural tube and can help prevent certain birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate.
Folic acid may help reduce the risk of depressive symptoms by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. Homocysteine is usually high in people with bipolar disorder and depression induced by alcohol use. Low homocysteine levels also lead to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Besides its antioxidant property, vitamin C found in Brussels sprouts is critical for collagen production. Collagen reduces wrinkles and improves overall skin texture by giving structure to skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin C can also help protect skin cells against sun damage and pollution.
Brussels sprouts are also a good source of provitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which is crucial for the growth of all body tissues, including skin, and hair. It helps in sebum production which keeps the hair moisturized.
Consuming Brussels sprouts may be one way to combat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables that produce the compound called indole can be used in the treatment therapy for NAFLD. A study found that the levels of indole are lower in people with fat around their liver than those with no fat accumulation. Experts suggest that the compound may reduce inflammation caused by fatty liver disease.
The nutritional benefits of plant based diets are seemingly endless. With only 40-calories for a 1-cup serving, adding Brussels sprouts to your diet could help in weight loss. Whether you eat them boiled, sautéed, or grilled, you'll get something good out of Brussels sprouts.