Good news for good health about one of our favorite cruciferous vegetables

Rachel Roszmann
March 10, 2020
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Brussels sprouts get a lot more love than they used to. Gone are the days when Mom boiled them into submission. Home cooks now have better resources for cooking Brussels sprouts so that they actually taste delicious. But deliciousness isn't the only thing these miniature cabbages deliver—there are quite a few health benefits of Brussels sprouts.

Fighting Fatty Liver Disease

Eating Brussels sprouts may be one way to combat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A study led by Texas A&M University found that levels of a compound called indole are lower in the blood of people with fat around their liver than people without fat accumulation around the liver. Researchers also found that indole may reduce inflammation caused by fatty liver disease. Those experts suggest that Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables that produce indole could be used as a part of treatment therapy for NAFLD. Get more indole in your diet with our recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts.

Lowering Risk of Chronic Disease

A 1-cup serving of Brussels sprouts contains 12% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber, and getting plenty of fiber may help lower the risk of chronic illnesses. Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand did a meta-analysis of 180 studies and 50 clinical trials on fiber. They found there was a 15 to 30% reduced risk of premature death and chronic diseases in people with high-fiber diets, compared to those with low intakes of fiber. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer were among the diseases that fiber seemed to help combat. Fiber is also known to help regulate blood sugar levels. If you want to increase your fiber intake try EatingWell's Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions.

Improving Bone Health

With a DV of 80% for vitamin C, Brussels sprouts may help improve bone density in women going through menopause. A 2018 review from the Medical University of Lublin in Poland reported results of research comparing the vitamin C intake and bone mineral density of menopausal women to those of younger women. The results showed a correlation between vitamin C and positive bone density scores as well as lower risk of fracture. Vitamin C also supports many functions of the immune system. Get more vitamin C in your diet with Salt & Vinegar Sheet-Pan Chicken & Brussels Sprouts.

Reducing Inflammation

With such high amounts of vitamin C, Brussels sprouts may also reduce inflammation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that curbs the production of free radicals, but it has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress which can lead to inflammation. If you're looking for more ways to reduce inflammation, check out 18 Anti-Inflammatory Dinners to Try.

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Fighting Cancer

New research shows that a compound found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables may help restrict tumor growth. Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that the compound, called indole-3-carbinol, blocks aggressive enzymes known to advance cancer growth. The enzymes weaken genes that suppress tumors and keep them from spreading. They found that in the presence of I3C, tumor suppressors can do their jobs. Try our recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese & Pomegranate.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Lowering your salt intake isn't the only way to lower your blood pressure. Getting more Brussels sprouts in your diet may help, too, thanks to this veg's potassium content. Researchers from the University of Southern California reviewed 70 studies on blood pressure. They found that potassium may reduce the negative effects of salt on blood pressure: it may actually curb your body's sodium absorption. A 1-cup serving of Brussels sprouts delivers 7% of the DV for potassium, so you can increase your potassium intake with Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Honey-Balsamic Glaze.

Keeping You Sharp

If you want to keep your brain sharp as you age, getting a few cups of Brussels sprouts into your diet may help. A 1-cup serving contains 130% of the DV for vitamin K, a nutrient which may improve cognition and behavior in aging adults. Researchers from the University of Angers in France looked at the effect of vitamin K on geriatric patients. They found a correlation between an increased amount of vitamin K and improved mental abilities. You may be able to improve your own cognition with our recipe for Roasted Gnocchi & Brussels Sprouts with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette to get more vitamin K.

Bottom Line

The health benefits of Brussels sprouts are seemingly endless. They're packed with vitamins and minerals your body needs to function. Not only that, but with just 40 calories for a 1-cup serving, adding Brussels sprouts to your diet could also help with weight loss. Whether you eat them boiled, sautéed or grilled, you'll get something good out of Brussels sprouts.