Nature’s Wonderfood…Brussels Sprouts?

brussel-sprouts-92240_640I’ve never understood why brussels sprouts have such a bad reputation. Smothered in butter and sprinkled with salt, they have always been one of my favorites. Lately I’ve switched to olive oil and still love them. Given their long list of amazing health benefits, brussels sprouts are vegetables that should be added to everyone’s grocery list.

I’ve come across a few tips for cooking brussels sprouts to get the most out of their health-improving benefits and the most out of their flavor. You’ll find them down at the end of the blog. But first, let’s look at what this wonderfood does for us.

1. Researchers now believe that brussels sprouts have a unique ability to protect DNA. Daily consumption of 1.25 cups of brussels sprouts was linked with the improved stability of DNA within white blood cells.

2. Brussels sprouts help fight cancer. They beat out kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (all part of the cruciferous vegetable group) in providing glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are the chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protecting components. Two examples:

–Sinigrin is a glucosinolate that prompts pre-cancerous cells to “commit suicide” – a natural process called apoptosis. According to scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, the effect is so powerful that even the occasional meal of brussels sprouts can destroy precancerous cells.

–Sulforaphane (another glucosinolate in brussles sprouts) has been proven to trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify the body of cancer-causing chemicals. They have also been shown to inhibit chemically induced breast cancers in animal studies. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that sulforaphane can halt the proliferation of breast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.

3. Brussels sprouts, especially when steamed, can help lower cholesterol levels. Apparently steaming the mini-cabbages allows them to better bind with bile acids in the digestive tract. This makes it easier for bile acids to be excreted from the body. The result is a lowering of cholesterol levels.

4. Protein! While many vegetables contain small amounts of protein, brussels sprouts have enough to make them a meat-substitute.

5. Brussels sprouts are full of things that we need: Vitamin A helps the body fight against infection (and promotes a glowing complexion).  With three times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, this super-vegetable helps maintain healthy tissues and organs. The vitamin D in brussels sprouts aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphate, allowing for stronger bones. It also supports brain cell functioning. The vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamins B6 and K and contains iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

6. Brussels sprouts boost fertility in men and women due to their high levels of folic acid. Folic acid helps line the womb with the proper nutrients, thus raising sperm survival chances. Folic acid has also been associated with increased sperm levels.

The Washington Health Foundation recommends eating 1 1/2 cups of brussels sprouts two to three times a week. They also recommend adding additional cruciferous vegetables twice a week and upping their amount to 2 cups.

Here’s a more expanded list of health-promoting cruciferous vegetables:

Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, daikon radish, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, turnip, watercress.

Cooking Brussels Sprouts

Overcooking brussels sprouts has two disadvantages. Not only do you lose much of their nutritional value and taste, they also begin to have an unpleasant odor. To get the most out of the vegetable, cut each sprout in quarters and let them sit for 5 minutes, then steam for an additional 5 minutes. (There is a whole science behind letting them sit after you chop them — some even suggest adding lemon juice at this stage. For now lets just say it helps activate healthy enzymes). Or chop and add to a stir-fry mix. Or, if you really don’t like the taste, chop them into tiny pieces and sprinkle over a salad. While raw brussels sprouts won’t yield the vegetable’s full nutritional value, you will still get a great deal of the benefits of this wonder-food.

To take a dosha test and find out what vegetables best support your body type, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

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