Thursday, November 5, 2009

Veggie of the Month - Brussels Sprouts

You may think that Brussels Sprouts (or baby cabbages as they are known in our house) are a strange little vegetable to spend any time on, but they happen to be one of my favorites. I just like them because I think they taste good. Maybe I should like them because of all the great nutrition value they provide.

It's no surprise that Brussel sprouts look like perfect miniature versions of cabbage since they are closely related, both belong to the Brassica family of vegetables. 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 are an excellent source of both vitamin K and C.

Cancer Protection from Special Sulfur-Containing Phytonutrients
Plant phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts enhance the activity of the body's natural defense systems to protect against disease, including cancer. Scientists have found that sulforaphane, one of the powerful glucosinolate phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

Crucifers Cut Risk of Bladder Cancer
Human population as well as animal studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower, are associated with lower incidence of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer. Now, research published in the International Journal of Cancer (Zhao H, Lin J) suggests that bladder cancer can join the list.

Optimize Your Cells' Detoxification / Cleansing Ability
For about 20 years, we've known that many phytonutrients work as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cell membranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol. Now, new research is revealing that phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, work at a much deeper level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.

For Healthy Skin and Immune Function, Think Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin C supports immune function and the manufacture of collagen, a protein that forms the ground substance of body structures including the skin, connective tissue, cartilage, and tendons.

Fiber-rich Brussels Sprouts Support A Healthier Colon
Add Brussels sprouts to your diet, and you'll increase your fiber intake. A cup of Brussels sprouts contains more than 4 grams of fiber, and both soluble and insoluble fiber are present in roughly equal amounts.

A Birth Defect Fighter
Especially if you are pregnant, consider learning to love Brussels sprouts. A cup of Brussels sprouts supplies 93.6 mg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. Despite folic acid's wide occurrence in food (it's name comes from the Latin word folium, meaning "foliage," because it's found in green leafy vegetables), folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world.

Although I am fine with my Brussels Sprouts simply steamed. Here is a great sounding recipe you may want to try.

- Shannan



Hanlie said...

I love Brussels sprouts! I usually dry roast them in the oven and add them to our dinner salad. Absolutely delicious!

alexis said...

Baby cabbages, indeed! I can only get my 5 year old to eat brussel sprouts if I call them baby cabbages. We like them braised with balsamic good!

Girl on Raw said...

We call them baby cabbages in my house too haha. Well when I was a kid that was. I remember my mum eating a whole plate of them for dinner one night, and I thought she was CRAZY. She must have known what you know. That they are good for ya!

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