Children and picky eaters of all ages have a long history of turning their noses up at even the sight of a Brussels sprout. But like their fellow cruciferous veggies (such as kale, broccoli, cabbage), Brussels sprouts are packed with plenty of nutritional benefits that should make you think twice about not including them on your plate.
Each small bulb is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help us feel our best. A quick breakdown by the USDA lists perks like three grams of protein and fiber per cup. And did you know that you can get more than 100 percent of your daily recommended immune-boosting vitamin C from a side of Brussels? You’ll also be chowing down on a nice sprinkle of calcium and iron, too.
But that’s just the beginning when it comes to unpacking all the goodness you can get from a serving of the veg. Brussels sprouts are full of antioxidants that help ward off cancer-causing oxidative stress. In fact, one clinical study found that eating two cups on a daily basis resulted in an impressive 28 percent less risk of cancer for their participants. Another study in Food Chemistry highlighted a specific antioxidant called kaempferol, which they found significantly inhibited cancer cell growth while maintaining normal cell viability.
Adding more Brussels sprouts to your diet can also be beneficial to those combating type 2 diabetes. According to a study from Frontiers in Pharmacology, the fiber and another antioxidant found in Brussels called alpha-lipoic acid work together to protect against cell destruction, improve glucose levels, and slow the development of other symptoms.
Brussels are also rich in vitamin K, which has been shown to promote bone health, particularly in postmenopausal women. That means warding off age-related bone loss and osteoporosis. However, it should be noted that high levels of vitamin K from Brussels and other cruciferous vegetables can act as a natural coagulate, so you should be careful with your intake if you’re on blood thinners.
All of those healthy perks aside, you still might not be keen on cooking up Brussels sprouts with your next meal because of their bitter taste. Apparently, there’s a genetic reason behind that: The BBC’s Science Focus cites a study from Cornwall College that found the vegetable contains a chemical compound called phenylthiocarbamide — which gives it a bitter taste to roughly half of the world’s population in the similar way to how cilantro tastes “soapy” to some. Before you totally give up on Brussels, though, try cutting them in half before roasting or sautéing to release that chemical and reduce the bitterness.
Click here to see our favorite Brussels sprouts recipes that even picky eaters will love!