Brussels sprouts are small, round, green vegetables. They are most often about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3 centimeters) wide. Brussels sprouts look like tiny cabbages, but they are milder in flavor. They belong to the brassica family, which includes kale, broccoli, collard greens, cauliflower, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and arugula.
When cooked, Brussels sprouts are tender; they may also be served raw and crunchy when shredded. They are full of nutrients and can be included in many meals.
WHY THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU
Brussels sprouts are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can count on Brussels sprouts to support your immune system, blood and bone health, and more.
Brussels sprouts are very filling and low in calories, so they are a great choice to help maintain a healthy weight. A cup of raw Brussels sprouts provides 4 grams of both fiber and protein and just over 50 calories.
Brussels sprouts rank high in antioxidants, just after kale and spinach. Antioxidants are substances that can help you stay healthy by preventing cell damage in the body. Just half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts will give you almost half of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber and potassium and an excellent source of folate. Regularly consuming Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables may help prevent many common cancers.
If you take the blood-thinning medicine, warfarin (Coumadin), you may need to limit your intake of foods that are high in vitamin K, such as Brussels sprouts, since they can affect how blood-thinners work.
HOW THEY ARE PREPARED
Before you cook Brussels sprouts, be sure to wash and clean them. Cut off the tough bottom and remove any outer, wilted leaves. Cut an X-shape at the base to help them cook more evenly.
Brussels sprouts can be added to any meal and prepared in several simple ways:
- Microwave in a microwave-safe bowl with one-quarter cup (60 mL) of water for about 4 minutes.
- Steam in a small pan on the stove with an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Bring the water to boil, add the Brussels sprouts, and cook covered for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Roast with olive oil on a sheet pan for 25 to 30 minutes at 400°F (204°C). Add a little salt and pepper, or other flavorings like red pepper flakes or garlic powder.
- Sauté on stove top with garlic and olive oil. Add chicken, mushrooms, or beans for a hearty meal. Add whole wheat or high fiber pasta as well.
Boiling Brussel sprouts is not recommended because much of the vitamin C is lost with this cooking method.
WHERE TO FIND BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Brussels sprouts are available year-round in the produce section of most grocery stores. You will find them near the broccoli and other greens. Pick Brussels sprouts that are firm and bright green. Avoid Brussels sprouts that are soft or yellowing. They will last in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 5 days.
Be sure to put Brussels sprouts on your weekly shopping list.
There are many delicious Brussels sprouts recipes. Here is one to try.
- Half pound (227 g) Brussels sprouts
- Half cup (120 mL) chicken broth, low-sodium
- One teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice
- One teaspoon (5 mL) brown mustard (spicy)
- One teaspoon (5 mL) thyme (dried)
- Half cup (125 mL) mushrooms (sliced)
- Trim Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Steam until tender, for 6 to 10 minutes, or microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes.
- In a non-stick pot, bring the broth to a boil.
- Mix in the lemon juice, mustard, and thyme. Add the mushrooms.
- Boil until the broth is reduced by half, for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the Brussels sprouts (or other cooked vegetables).
- Toss well to coat with the sauce.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. The beginner's guide to cruciferous vegetables. www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/the-beginners-guide-to-cruciferous-vegetables. Updated July 2020. Accessed June 8, 2022.
US Department of Agriculture website. Seasonal produce guide: Brussels sprouts. snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/brussels-sprouts. Accessed June 8, 2022.
US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th ed. www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Updated December 2020. Accessed June 8, 2022.
Review Date 6/22/2022
Updated by: Stefania Manetti, RD/N, CDCES, RYT200, My Vita Sana LLC - Nourish and heal through food, San Jose, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.