Ahhh the tiny but mighty Brussels sprout. The divider of nations. The cruciferous ruiner of relationships. You get the idea.
Brussels sprouts tend to be a very polarizing vegetable. For as many veggie lovers that swear by the carmelized candy that is roasted sprouts, there are another 1-2 sad souls who have been turned off by less-than-ideal preparations of boiled, rubbery, or wilty sprouts and swear off these delicate nutrition-packed powerhouses.
Brussels sprouts grow on stalks up to three feet tall, and each bud resembles a miniature cabbage, with a diameter of 1/2 -2 inches. Typically sold in grocery stores removed from the stalk, they can be found in farmers markets and some specialty stores still attached. They also are offered canned or frozen, though I cannot vouch for their nutrient content or flavor in such preparations.
Brussels sprouts are members of the family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, known as Brassicas. These vegetables are lauded in nutrition circles for their hefty doses of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and anti-inflammatory and potentially cancer-preventing compounds.
Taken from the website “world’s healthiest foods” (whfoods.com), Brussels sprouts have a whole host of healthful benefits:
“What’s New and Beneficial About Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels sprouts can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will use a steaming method when cooking them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw Brussels sprouts still have cholesterol-lowering ability — just not as much as steamed Brussels sprouts.
- Brussels sprouts may have unique health benefits in the area of DNA protection. A recent study has shown improved stability of DNA inside of our white blood cells after daily consumption of Brussels sprouts in the amount of 1.25 cups. Interestingly, it’s the ability of certain compounds in Brussels sprouts to block the activity of sulphotransferase enzymes that researchers believe to be responsible for these DNA-protective benefits.
- For total glucosinolate content, Brussels sprouts are now known to top the list of commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. Their total glucosinolate content has been shown to be greater than the amount found in mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, or broccoli. In Germany, Brussels sprouts account for more glucosinolate intake than any other food except broccoli. Glucosinolates are important phytonutrients for our health because they are the chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protective substances. All cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and have great health benefits for this reason. But it’s recent research that’s made us realize how especially valuable Brussels sprouts are in this regard.
- The cancer protection we get from Brussels sprouts is largely related to four specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin, and gluconasturtiian. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-preventive components in special combination.
- Brussels sprouts have been used to determine the potential impact of cruciferous vegetables on thyroid function. In a recent study, 5 ounces of Brussels sprouts were consumed on a daily basis for 4 consecutive weeks by a small group of healthy adults and not found to have an unwanted impact on their thyroid function. Although follow-up studies are needed, this study puts at least one large stamp of approval on Brussels sprouts as a food that can provide fantastic health benefits without putting the thyroid gland at risk.” READ MORE HERE
For those who are wary of Brussels sprouts, from past experience or a lack of experience, try this salad to introduce them. Finely shaved sprouts are mixed with naturally sweet fruit (apples and raisins) and coated in a mixture of sweet and tangy dressing to produce a side salad, or even main dish, of healthy intent sneakily hiding under the guise of almost-dessert. Everyone can feel good about eating this. Try it at your next picnic, potluck, as a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish, or just because it’s Tuesday night.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded or diced very finely
- 1 apple, diced very thin
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp raisins
Step 1: Rinse your sprouts, and either use a shredder or a sharp knife to finely dice them, and put in a large bowl.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Use as high quality an oil as you are able.
Step 3: Very finely dice and slice the apple. The best & quickest way is to rinse the apple, then slice into fourths. Cut out the middle core & seeds and discard. Then lay each quarter on a side, and thinly slice. Slice each of those in half and you should have very thin, bite-sized slivers of apple.
Step 4: Mix the shredded sprouts, apple slivers, and raisins in a bowl. Pour on the liquid dressing mixture, and toss well to coat. You can serve hot, cold, or room temperature. You can serve immediately, or let it sit in the refrigerator up to three days for the flavors to mix.