The Great Health Benefits of a Holiday Veggie

Holiday foods are frequently heavy and unhealthy. But, there is one food on your table that has real health benefits: Brussels sprouts. They are a food that is often disparaged. But, these “mini cabbages” pack a lot of nutrients and fiber and should definitely be on your plate!

We’re big fans of eating seasonal veggies. Getting them at their peak is best because it’s when they have the most nutrients. This fall vegetable is a staple of holiday meals for a good reason. They are loaded with fiber — which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Additionally, they contain vitamins A and C and folate. They provide 137 percent of your daily vitamin K and nine percent of your daily intake of manganese. Half a cup of Brussels sprouts has only 28 calories and eight percent of your fiber needs.

We’ve written in the past about how to mask the flavor of veggies you don’t like. If you want to eat veggies without adding sauces or complicated cooking methods, you can also retrain your brain to like bitter flavors, like those found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables. Even if you think you don’t like them, you can find ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants that lower your risks for cancer and chronic diseases. In fact, eating two cups of the veggie can lower the damage of oxidative stress by 28 percent. Something you might not expect to find in a vegetable is omega-3 fatty acids. But, half a cup has around 10 percent of your needed intake. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce insulin resistance, lower triglycerides and slow cognitive decline. Phytonutrients, including glucosinolates, found in cruciferous veggies fight cancer — it’s one of the reasons we like them so much. Brussels sprouts have more glucosinolates than broccoli, kale, mustard or turnip greens, cabbage or cauliflower.

The best Brussels sprouts are small, firm and bright green. You don’t want soft Brussels as they are past their prime. Keep them in the fridge and don’t trim or wash them until you are ready to cook them as they stay fresh and nutrient-rich longer in cold, dark environments. If you would rather freeze them, steam them lightly before freezing.

Be aware that cruciferous vegetables can upset your digestive tract and cause problems for people with irritable bowel syndrome. Because the high level of vitamin K can increase blood clotting, they can be detrimental to people on blood thinners. If you are taking medications and have concerns, speak to your doctor before making changes in your diet.

With all this knowledge, you have even more of a reason to enjoy Brussels sprouts this season!
December 16, 2019
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