The health benefits of Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts have gained somewhat of an unfair reputation as the most unpopular guest vegetable invited to the Christmas dinner party before being neglected until December rolls around again. It is not difficult to see why Brussels sprouts aren’t our favourite vegetable, as they are so often boiled to an unpalatable khaki mush. Here we show you how to make the most of these versatile vegetables, with delicious, nutritious recipes, until well into spring. The benefits of Brussels sprouts are many and varied, here’s why we mustn’t overlook them on your next shop:

Nutritious and delicious…

There are numerous health benefits to eating Brussels sprouts, added to the fact that they are very low in calories and virtually fat free. They contain compounds called “glucosinolates” which, when broken down, help to activate enzymes in the body that fight cancer. Added to this, sprouts are also a great source of fibre.

Eye candy

While it may be carrots that are renowned for helping us see in the dark, it is Brussels sprouts that are especially beneficial for your eyes. These little green gems contain lutein, a phytochemical which is transported to our eyes, reducing the risk of light damage that can cause age-related macular degeneration. An 80g portion of them also contains four times more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice, so there’s no excuse not to add them into your diet.

Strong bones

Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin K, and there is an increasing body of research which links vitamin K to the maintenance of healthy bones. Maintaining strong bones is particularly important for menopausal and post-menopausal women, whose bone density can be affected by falling levels of oestrogen.

Not just for Christmas

Brussels sprouts can be harvested from autumn to early spring in the UK, so you can enjoy them for nearly half the year without the guilt of hundreds of airmiles. If you view sprouts as something to be endured, not enjoyed, then having them with turkey in December might seem more than enough. But the way sprouts tend to be prepared is the reason they are so often associated with being soggy and sulphurous smelling. According to Trevor George, lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, boiling sprouts is the least nutritious (and least delicious) way of preparing them, as several of their key nutrients dissolve in the cooking water.

Roasted Brussels sprouts

In light of this, we have collected together some of our favourite Brussels sprout recipes to transform your perceptions of them. Roasting sprouts can give them a rich, sweet flavour which lends itself well to filling winter salads, like this one, where they are roasted with smoky tahini and served with a fresh yoghurt dressing and lemony pearl barley. Of course, they don’t have to take centre stage, but there’s no excuse to serve them as a soggy side. This warming wintry recipe, for example, sautées hazelnuts and garlic with sprouts and the juice of an orange for a zingy, cold-busting vitamin C kick.

With so many ways of preparing these delicious, nutrient-packed vegetables, there are recipes that will appeal to even the staunches sprout shunners. Give them a go, your body will thank you!