Those of us who were brought up with Brussels sprouts as a mandatory vegetable at the dinner table, especially during the holidays, may recall them as some of the most bitter and nasty veggies with an unappealing odor.
Besides their long-standing reputation as the food that kids despise, brussels sprouts have recently emerged as a culinary sensation just over the last decade. They are now included in chic restaurant menus, and the demand for them has grown so quickly that farmers have struggled to keep up.
Most of their rapid increase in popularity can be attributed to a massive revamp of their flavor to cater to adults and finicky children.
Brussels sprouts are similar to kale, cauliflower, and mustard greens and belong to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. These cruciferous veggies, which look like mini cabbages, are sliced, washed, and cooked to make various recipes or be made as a tasty side dish.
Brussels sprouts are rich in many nutrients and have been attributed to a variety of health advantages.
Let’s dive into the wonderful world of these healthy greens and find out what they offer in terms of health and nutrition, growth, and harvesting! Also, please have a look at the yummy recipes that one can use to prepare a healthy yet delicious meal for the entire family.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Brussels Sprouts?
1. High Nutritional Value
Brussels sprouts are low in calories but rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The nutrition information of a half-cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts contains the following main nutrients:
- 28 calories
- 2 g of protein
- 6 g of carbohydrates
- 2 g of fiber
- 137 % Vit-K (as per RDI)
- 81 % Vit-C (as per RDI)
- 12 % Vit-A (as per RDI)
- 12 % Folate (as per RDI)
- 9% Manganese (as per RDI)
Vitamin K is particularly abundant in Brussels sprouts, which is needed for blood clotting and bone protection. They’re also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that aids iron absorption and plays a vital role in tissue repair and immunity.
Furthermore, their high fiber content aids in digestion and gut wellbeing.
Brussels sprouts also provide minimal quantities of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium, and phosphorus, in addition to the nutrients mentioned earlier.
2. Good Source Of Antioxidants
Brussels sprouts have multiple health benefits, but their remarkable antioxidant quality stands out. Antioxidants are molecules that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative stress in your body.
In one study, participants who ate about 2 cups (300 grams) of Brussels sprouts daily saw a 28 percent reduction in oxidative stress damage to their cells.
Brussels sprouts are particularly rich in kaempferol, an antioxidant with many health-promoting properties that have been thoroughly examined. Kaempferol has been shown in test tubes to suppress cancer cell proliferation, relieve pain, and increase heart health.
When eaten along with a diet high in fruits and veggies, Brussels sprouts will help the body get the antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.
According to some findings, Brussels sprouts’ high antioxidant content can help safeguard against some forms of cancer. Brussels sprouts were found to protect against carcinogens or cancer-causing agents and prevent oxidative damage to cells in a 2008 report.
Consuming Brussels sprouts raised the levels of certain detoxification enzymes by 15–30% in another small sample. The researchers speculated that this impact might lead to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, but further research needs to be done.
Brussels sprouts’ antioxidants can also nullify free radicals. There are oxidative stress-related compounds that lead to diseases like cancer. More study will help us understand whether using Brussels sprouts as a component of a healthier meal and active lifestyle will help reduce cancer risk.
3. Excellent Source Of Fiber
Fiber is a vital part of healthy health, and getting plenty of it in your meal has a lot of advantages. Dietary fiber can alleviate constipation by increasing stool frequency and softening stool consistency to ease the passage.
Fiber also aids intestinal health by providing food for the good bacteria in your stomach. Fiber consumption has also been linked to other health effects, such as a lower risk of heart failure and better blood sugar regulation.
Cooked Brussels sprouts contain 2 grams of fiber per half-cup ( which roughly adds up to 78 grams), which can meet up to 8% of your daily fiber requirements. Brussels sprouts and other high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can conveniently fulfill the fiber requirements.
4. Rich source Of Vitamin-K
Vitamin K is abundant in Brussels sprouts. As a matter of fact, half a cup (i.e. 78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts supplies 137% of your daily vitamin K needs.
This essential nutrient plays a crucial role in the human body. Coagulation, or the forming of blood clots that avoid bleeding, requires it. It can also aid bone development and defend against osteoporosis, a disease marked by gradual bone loss. Taking vitamin K supplements could help postmenopausal women’s bone density and reduce their risk of fracture.
It’s important to remember that people who take blood thinners can limit their vitamin K consumption. However, increasing vitamin K consumption can have many health benefits for the majority of people.
5. Helps Maintain A Healthy Blood Sugar Level
Brussels sprouts can also help stabilize blood sugar levels stable, in addition to their spectacular nutrient composition and long list of health benefits. Higher consumption of cruciferous veggies, such as brussels sprouts, has been related to a lower risk of diabetes in many trials. This is mostly because brussels sprouts are rich in fibre, which helps balance blood sugar levels.
Fiber flows slowly and undigested through the body, slowing the release of sugar through the bloodstream. Brussels sprouts also comprise alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that’s been studied widely for its possible effects on blood sugar and insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that transports sugar from your bloodstream to your cells, keeping your blood sugar levels in check. Adding Brussels sprouts to your lifestyle, along with a healthy diet, can help you maintain a steady blood sugar level.
6. Good Source Of ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It can be difficult to get enough omega-3 fatty acids if you are not a fan of fish or seafood. Vegetarian diets only comprise alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid used in your body less efficiently than omega-3 fats found in fish and seafood. This is owing to the belief that your body can only transform ALA to the more active sources of omega-3 fatty acids in small amounts.
As a result, you’d need to ingest more ALA omega-3 fatty acids to fulfil your everyday omega-3 requirements than you would if you had your omega-3 fats from fish or seafood.
Every half-cup (78 grams) portion of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 135 mg of ALA, making them one of the strongest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to suppress blood triglycerides, delay cognitive loss, reduce insulin resistance and lower inflammation.
A half cup of Brussels sprouts provides 12% of the daily requirement for women and 8.5 percent for men, so using them in your meal a couple of times a week will help you comfortably satisfy your omega-3 fatty acid needs.
7. Reduces Inflammation
While inflammation is a natural immune response, it may also lead to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Substances present in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts have been shown in several experiments to have anti-inflammatory effects.
A major study found that eating more cruciferous veggies was linked to lower blood levels of inflammatory factors. Brussels sprouts are also rich in antioxidants, which can serve to neutralise free radicals that cause inflammation.
Kaempferol, one of the major antioxidants present in Brussels sprouts, has been found to have particularly potent anti-inflammatory effects. Based on these results, a meal rich in cruciferous veggies such as Brussels sprouts can help to reduce inflammation and the risk of developing pro-inflammatory conditions.
8. Rich Source Of Vitamin-C
Every half-cup (78-gram) cooked serving of Brussels sprouts provides 81 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is essential for the body’s tissue development and restoration. It even functions as an antioxidant, aids in the manufacture of proteins such as collagen, and can boost immunity.
Vitamin C can also help your body digest non-heme iron, a form of iron present in plants that your body can’t absorb as well as iron derived from animals. Hence, just one or two servings of Brussels sprouts a few days a week will help you fulfil your nutritional requirements.
Now that you are well aware of the health benefits of Brussel sprouts, you’re probably thinking, how do I grow my own brussels sprouts at home? Don’t worry; we’re here to help! Here’s how you can grow your own Brussel sprouts at home!
1. When Is The Best Time To Plant Brussel Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts thrive in cool conditions, but they can sprout from seed at temperatures ranging from 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Since Brussels sprouts take a long time to mature, it’s better to get a head start by cultivating small plants instead of seeds, such as those accessible from your local gardener.
Direct-sow into the ground in mid to late summer for a fall harvest if you want to plant from seed. In colder climates, gardeners can cultivate a spring crop by planting them outdoors as soon as the soil is feasible.
2. Where Should You Plant Your Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts grow well in bright sunlight and sufficiently damp soil. Brussels sprouts and other cabbage family plants (such as kale, collards, or broccoli) are vulnerable to a wide variety of soil-borne diseases, so rotating between different areas of the garden per season is a good idea.
Planting Brussels sprouts where you previously grew cabbage is not a good idea.
3. How Should You Plant The Sprout?
Planting your Brussel sprouts is as easy as 1-2-3. Take a look!
- Sow seeds in line or raised beds one-fourth to one-half inch wide and four inches away. It will take up to a week for seeds to start growing.
- Just after seedlings have two sets of leaves, thin them to a spacing of 1-2 feet.
- Upon planting, water well, then mulch around the base of each plant with 2-3 inches of mulch to help the soil hold moisture and keep pests at bay by blocking sunlight.
4. Watering Your Sprouts
Watering regularly is important for large Brussels sprout yields. The sprouts will shrink back and not completely mature if the soil becomes too dry. Routinely monitor the soil and water when the top layer is dry.
5. How To Keep Away Any Mites
Brussels sprouts, like all cabbage family species, are especially vulnerable to cabbage worms or caterpillars. Harlequin flies, cabbage loopers, diamondback moth, imported cabbageworm, cutworms, cabbage maggot, thrips, and webworms are among the insects target Brussels sprouts.
Aphids are particularly difficult to manage. Powdery mildew and rust can also cause problems for plants. Check your plants daily for worms and pick them by hand, drop them into a bowl of soapy water.
Alternatively, spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis during the growing season.
6. Harvesting Your Brussel Sprout
Sprouts begin to grow at the bottom of the plant and progress upward for several weeks (usually after 80-90 days, sprouts can germinate from the ground up). When the first signs of growth appear (i.e. when the brussel sprouts are sturdy, green, and 1 to 2 inches in diameter), they are ready to harvest.
Twist the sprouts away from the ground until they detach. When the plant’s age, the leaves can turn yellow. Remove these leaves with a cut. After this, the plant can begin to expand upward, growing new leaves and sprouts. The plant is resistant to cold weather and can be harvested before winter occurs.
Sprouts of the highest quality are grown on sunny days with mild frosts at night. A good, full-sized plant can produce 2 to 3 pounds of sprouts. Refrigerate brussels sprouts that haven’t been cleaned.
Quick tips to remember while growing and harvesting your own veggies
- Grow Brussels sprouts in the early spring and early fall while the weather is mild.
- Brussels sprouts need space to spread out, so plant them 18- 24 inches apart in a sunny location with at least 6 hours of sun per day and well-drained, moist soil with a pH of 6.8.
- Mix in multiple inches of compost or other healthy organic matter before planting to boost native soil.
- Check the soil moisture every week and giving seedlings 1 to 1.5 inches of water.
- Feed Brussels sprouts a constant plant food daily to ensure a plentiful yield.
- Mulch the soil with a 3-inch coat to keep it moist and discourage weeds.
Common Problems While Growing Brussels Sprout
Growing Brussels sprouts can be challenging. Mentioned below are the issues that are most likely to arise and how you can solve them.
1. Wilting Of Young Brussels
Due to a lack of water, plants can shrivel after planting. Water must be available at the time of planting and afterwards.’Starter fertiliser’, a high phosphorus liquid fertiliser used at half strength, can be very beneficial to you at this point. If your sprouts are easily pulled up from the soil, chances are the harvest has been infested with the cabbage root fly as they make the roots weak.
2. Not Much Growth Is Visible
Brussels sprouts need extremely fertile soil to thrive. Hence, it is best advised to use fertilizers for a more effective yield. Some of the fertiliser can be replaced by adding plenty of organic matter. Brussels sprouts are more drought resistant than cauliflowers, but they need damp soil in the summer to thrive. Allowing at least 60cm (2ft) between plants and rows and 90cm (3ft) between rows makes it easier to harvest sprouts. During dry seasons, brussels sprouts need to be watered every 14 days.
3. Sprouts Having Loose Leaves
Sprouts, like all brassicas, ought to be rooted firmly. When a leaf is tugged, it can tear, allowing the plant to be withdrawn from the soil. Loose planting, on the other hand, is not a clear source of fuzzy sprouts. Bad soil, lack of growth, and, in particular, the use of non-hybrid cultivars are the most common causes. Firm sprouts can only be produced by hybrid cultivars. Excessive nitrogen fertiliser is not linked to the development of loose sprouts.
4. Damaged Leaves/Sprouts
Leaf spot or ringspot fungal diseases create concentric circular markings on leaves and sprouts in rainy winters and areas. Few cultivars are less affected than others and are included in seed catalogues. Since sprouts identified in this pattern can be peeled, yield is unaffected.
5. Flavorless/Unappetizing Yields
This depends on the time of planting. Sprouts are tasteless until mid-autumn when they turn sweeter and more appealing as the weather cools. Even if some early cultivars have been bred to be tasty as early as late summer, they can’t compare to the sweetness of later cultivars.
How To Use Brussel Sprout In Cooking?
Brussels sprouts are an extremely controversial vegetable. Everyone agrees they’re good for you, hearty, and something we “can” eat, but their taste can be contentious. They can be satisfyingly sweet, savoury, and crisp when cooked properly. Here are some tips for you to turn these unassuming micro-cabbages into the perfect roasted brussel sprout recipe!
Tip 1: Brussels are undoubtedly fibrous and thick, as are all cabbages. You can resolve this by blanching them in salted water until fork tender or roasting them for up to 20 minutes at a high (over 425F) flame. Do both to ensure perfect texture!
Trim and halve the brussels sprouts, then blanch and fully dry them before roasting until the outer leaves begin to darken.
Tip 2: There really is nothing wrong with smooth and crunchy Brussels, but if you want the crispy roasted brussels sprouts that your favorite cafe serves, you must completely dry the sprouts’ surface before sautéing or roasting them. If they’re wet, they’ll steam rather than crisp.
Tip 3: The more heat surfaces they are exposed to, the easier they can cook and the crispier they will get. Halfing them is necessary, but quartering them can be an even better method to get a strong flavour and increase the speed of the cooking process, particularly if they are larger imperfect Brussels!
Tip 4: Brussels have a sour taste in addition to being thick and chewy. Brussels sprouts can stand up to a lot of spices and, in fact, benefit from strong flavours. Using flavor bombs like parmesan cheese, fish sauce, pork, and salty acids like lemon juice or vinegar and tangy acids like lemon juice or vinegar. Don’t forget your salt and pepper!
If you want to add a little heat, chile flakes are a great addition!
Tip 5: Roast your Brussels at high heat to caramelise their natural sugars or apply extra sweetness in the form of maple syrup or balsamic vinegar (try our recipe that uses both!) to reduce their bitterness.
Balance the savoury sweetness with the tang of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the zing of thinly sliced basil or mint until the sweet and bitter flavours have been matched.
Just in case you still feel lost on how to cook your Brussel sprouts, try your hand at the following easy dinner recipes!
The Perfect Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe
On the outside, the finest roasted Brussels sprouts are golden and crisp, and on the inside, they’re irresistibly soft. The simple recipe can be found below. Variations on roasted Brussels can be found in the recipe comments. This recipe serves 4 people as a side dish.
- 1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Method Of Preparation
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). To make cleanup easier, line a big, studded baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove any discoloured or bruised leaves from your Brussels sprouts before slicing off the nubby edges. From the flat base to the tip, cut each sprout in two.
- Mix the halved sprouts, olive oil, and salt on a baking dish. Toss the sprouts in the dressing with salt and pepper, seasoning until they are gently and evenly covered. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer, smooth sides facing downward.
- Roast the leaves for 17 to 25 minutes, or until they are soft and intensely golden on the tips. If needed, garnish. Roasted Brussels are better eaten hot, but they can also be served cold. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Divide the ingredients into two wide, studded baking sheets and double them. Place the oven stacks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven. Roast all pans at the same rate in the oven, switching places halfway round (i.e. the lower pan goes to the upper rack and vice versa).
- Your garnishes will add an element of spice to your dish. A thin drizzle of heavy, balsamic vinegar or glaze, or a splash of fresh lemon juice, is the best way to finish the sprouts. You can also add lemon zest for an extra zing!
- Grated Parmesan is a nice addition to Brussels sprouts, particularly if you’re serving them alongside Italian main courses.
- And a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes, you can’t go wrong. Cover with sesame seeds (white or black) and a thin drizzle of caramelised sesame oil for an Asian twist. Serve the sprouts over many generous swirls of tahini sauce for a Middle Eastern twist.
It’s time to make the next flavor-packed side dish! New, organic Brussels sprouts, crispy chopped bacon, and sweet, chewy cranberries come together to make a kid-friendly veggie side dish! What’s great about these recipes are that most of these ingredients are readily available too. This recipe serves 4 in total.
Fresh Brussel Sprouts With Bacon And Cranberries
- 1 pound halved and cut Brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped bacon
- 1 tablespoon cranberries, dried
Method Of Preparation
- In a medium saute pan over medium flame, melt the butter—season with garlic salt.
- Add Brussels sprouts to the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat or until tender from inside and bright green in colour.
- Sauté for 1 minute with seasoning, salt and pepper and more with the bacon and cranberries.
- Heat the dish before serving.
The Bottom Line
The health benefits of Brussels sprouts are many, ranging from radiant skin to improved gut health. They can also have additional health advantages, such as lower cancer risk, minimise inflammation, and increase blood sugar regulation.
Including Brussels sprouts in a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has the potential to improve your health significantly.
If you haven’t tried these vegetables in a few years, consider making one of the delicious Brussels sprouts side dishes from the recipes. Even if your husband and kids previously disliked it, it could just become their new favorite vegetable!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.