For some of us, the thought of a plate of crispy Brussels sprouts sautéed in oil might get your mouth watering. For others, this sounds like dietary torture. Love them or leave them, you cannot deny the nutritional benefits of Brussels sprouts.
Related to collard greens and cabbages, Brussels sprouts are nutritional powerhouses that can provide excellent nutritional support to help your whole body. Typically served up as a side dish, sautéed or roasted Brussels sprouts are packed with antioxidants, dietary fiber, and ALA omega-3 fatty acids similar to those found in fish and seafood.
Eating Brussels sprouts as a part of a healthy diet can provide wide-ranging positive effects on your health. Better immune system function, improved eye health, lowered blood sugar levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and lowered cholesterol are all on the list of health benefits of Brussels sprouts.
If you are the sort of person who is obsessed with nutrition facts, then Brussels sprouts are going to give you something to be excited about. The long list of nutrients that abound in every serving of these veggies includes:
Despite all these advantages, for those who are trying to stick to a completely carb-free diet to lose weight, Brussels sprouts may still be off limits. With 11 grams of carbohydrates per serving, these cruciferous vegetables are not exactly carb free. Most ketogenic diets require you to keep under 50 grams of carbs a day, which can be a tight budget to manage.
Blood sugar regulation is a major component of living with type 2 diabetes. Eating foods that have a low glycemic index can help keep your blood sugar from spiking after you eat, which has a direct effect on your insulin levels. In addition to being low in natural sugars, Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, which also has positive effects for regulating blood sugar levels.
Increasing the level of fiber in your diet has benefits beyond blood sugar, though. Research has linked increased fiber intake with reduced risk of heart disease. The stool-softening power of fiber can also help promote digestive health by improving gut motility and lowering your chances of bowel obstruction or other gastric disorders as you age.
The presence of vitamin K in Brussels sprouts is one area where some caution is required. While this vitamin is crucial for proper bone health, it also plays a role in blood clotting, which can cause problems if you are on medication such as warfarin (or Coumadin) to manage blood clotting.
Some studies have also suggested that cruciferous vegetables carry sulfur-containing compounds that can help prevent cancers from developing in certain organs. Other research has suggested that the chlorophyll in cruciferous veggies may help ward off pancreatic cancer. Research is still ongoing in these areas, and there are other studies that have shown the link between cancer risk and Brussels sprouts may not be very clear. Regardless, the many other health benefits of eating Brussels sprouts means even if they can’t prevent cancer, you are still going to find some value in adding them to your diet.
There is no technical definition of a superfood, but if there was, Brussels sprouts would certainly make the cut. Despite their relatively small calorie count, Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
In addition to antioxidants to help fend off oxidative stress, ALA omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in Brussels sprouts, which makes them valuable menu items for people who don’t eat fish or seafood. The kind of omega-3 fatty acids found in Brussels sprouts are not as readily absorbed by the body, so for those individuals who have regular access to fish in their diets, seafood is still a good source of these important nutrients. Regardless of whether you regularly eat fish, the fatty acids in Brussels sprouts can have positive effects on your lungs, blood vessels, and your immune system.
Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A also help to push the nutty, flavorful sprouts into superfood territory. Vitamin C has been linked to better vision, skin health, improved immune system function, and even your body’s ability to produce collagen. Vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, has also been linked to increased skin health.
In addition to these commonly available vitamins, Brussels sprouts also contain compounds known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are more commonly associated with dark red or purple fruits such as blueberries or veggies like purple sweet potatoes.
These antioxidants are key to reducing the damaging effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress has been linked to an out-of-control inflammatory response that can be a factor in several of the most dangerous chronic diseases in rich, western societies.
Adding a few superfoods to your plate can certainly help you eat a more nutritious diet, but losing weight takes more than just piling on the veggies. As any dietitian will tell you, improvements in your diet need to be paired with exercise and lifestyle changes that can help reduce stress and keep you in a healthy caloric deficit where you are burning more calories than you are taking in.
If you are trying to manage a caloric deficit, though, you will need to ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need with fewer overall calories. To do this properly, every food that lands on your plate needs to be considered carefully. This is where vegetables such as Brussels sprouts can come in handy. As a nutrient-dense food packed with important vitamins and minerals, you can get a higher percentage of your daily value of several nutrients without breaking the caloric bank.
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