Brussels Sprouts Are as Good for You as They Are Delicious—Here Are 7 Reasons to Keep Eating Them

Even if you weren’t a huge Brussels sprout fan before, these undeniable health benefits will convince you to give them another try.

Isn't it funny how we hate certain things as children, only to love them as adults? Case in point: taking naps, receiving practical gifts, and eating Brussels sprouts. Sure, the cruciferous veggie might have grossed us out as kids—but these days, you can find us happily noshing on delicious dishes like Brussels sprouts flatbread with lemon and pecorino and ravioli with Brussels sprouts and bacon.

Luckily, Brussels sprouts are good for you, so the change of heart is totally justified. They're chock-full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory compounds, plus antioxidants to boot. (Apparently, our parents were on to something.) Not convinced? Read on to learn about the most important health benefits of Brussels sprouts, according to research and registered dietitians.

The Top Benefits of Eating Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts fight oxidative stress.

According to registered dietitian nutritionist Annamaria Louloudis, MS, RDN, Brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which are antioxidant compounds mainly found in cruciferous vegetables. Why do we need these compounds? Because too many of us are dealing with the consequences of free radicals, the molecules that cause oxidative stress. These free radicals cause damage to your cells when they're present in high amounts.

Many factors lead to oxidative stress, including obesity and a diet that's high in fat, sugar, and processed foods. Over time, oxidative stress can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. While eating less junk food is your best bet to keep yourself healthy, adding foods that are rich in antioxidants can help reduce the disease risks. Brussels sprouts also boast other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese, says Louloudis, making them some of the best antioxidant foods you can eat.

They reduce inflammation.

Another terrible consequence of oxidative stress? It can promote inflammation (and vice versa), according to Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. And long-term inflammation can lead to—you guessed it—chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

But again...bring on the Brussels sprouts! While eating a healthier diet is best, in the meantime you can eat Brussels sprouts to help regulate inflammation. That's because they are packed with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), an antioxidant that's exceptionally good at reducing inflammation. (And hopefully, the Brussels sprouts on your plate will crowd out the space that might have been taken up by processed foods that cause cell damage.)

Case in point: The journal Nutrition & Metabolism notes that ALA can suppress enzymes involved in inflammation. Louloudis adds that Brussels sprouts also offer an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (not to be confused with alpha-lipoic acid). Alpha-linolenic acid, like omega-3s in general, controls inflammatory processes in the body.

They're high in fiber and support gut health.

This cruciferous veggie offers fiber, a crucial nutrient for digestive health. It's especially rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that absorbs water in the digestive system. This creates a gel-like substance, which improves the consistency of stool, says Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of Within Nutrition.

The result? More regular bowel movements, along with a lower risk of bloating, diarrhea, and/or irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the fiber in Brussels sprouts feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut, notes Ivanir. This helps maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, which is crucial for healthy digestion.

If you usually don't eat much fiber, go easy on the Brussels sprouts to start. According to the Mayo Clinic, quickly increasing your intake of fiber (from any food) may cause bloating, cramping, and gas. So to reap the digestive benefits of Brussels sprouts sans side effects, increase your intake slowly and drink lots of water so that the fiber has something to absorb.

Brussels sprouts stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes.

The soluble fiber in Brussels sprouts can also regulate blood sugar. Here's how: As mentioned earlier, soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut. The gel slows the absorption of sugar from other foods, according to the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences. This prevents blood sugar spikes, and therefore, those dreaded energy crashes. It also decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes, a condition that's linked to frequent spikes in blood sugar.

The ALA in Brussels sprouts can help manage blood sugar, too. According to Ivanir, ALA increases insulin sensitivity, meaning your cells can efficiently take up glucose to control blood sugar levels.

They lower bad cholesterol and protect your heart.

Brussels sprouts can protect your heart, and it's all thanks to their soluble fiber content. According to Louloudis, soluble fiber blocks cholesterol absorption, which decreases LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood. It also helps the body excrete more cholesterol, according to the National Lipid Association. (Side note: Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol. So when the fiber leaves the body, the cholesterol goes along with it.)

Moreover, a 2021 study found that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis or narrow arteries caused by a buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other compounds. Atherosclerosis can restrict blood flow, increasing the risk of heart disease.

They support immune function with almost as much vitamin C as an orange.

Although citrus fruits—like oranges and grapefruits—are excellent for immune health, they aren't your only options. Like oranges, Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient that's for immune function. In fact, the vitamin C content of Brussels sprouts rivals that of oranges; 1 cup of Brussels sprouts contains 76.5 milligrams of vitamin C, while one orange has 81.9 milligrams. According to the journal Nutrients, vitamin C supports immunity by increasing the growth and division of white blood cells, or cells that fight disease-causing germs. Vitamin C also helps repair tissue and heal wounds, says Ivanir, further protecting your body.

They're high in vitamin K to help boost bone health.

Brussels sprouts aren't typically associated with bone health—but they can definitely lend a hand. According to Ivanir, Brussels sprouts offer vitamin K, a nutrient that activates proteins involved in bone formation. "Vitamin K also plays a role in suppressing and regulating resorption, or bone tissue breakdown," she adds. (Bone resorption naturally speeds up with age, which increases the risk of osteoporosis.) Brussels sprouts happen to be a top source of vitamin K; 1 cup of Brussels sprouts boasts 159 micrograms of vitamin K, which is higher than the daily recommended intake of 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women.

Delicious Ways to Eat More Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Brussels sprouts with pancetta and lemon served in a bowl
Anna Williams

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta

Usually, you'd have to fry Brussels sprouts to get them adequately caramelized. The pancetta not only infuses the vegetable with flavor, but it also adds crispiness, too. The result is a golden brown exterior and a perfectly tender interior.

Get the recipe.

Spicy Asian Chicken With Brussels Sprouts
Make quick work of preparing the sprouts in this recipe by slicing them in a food processor. Get the recipe: Spicy Asian Chicken With Brussels Sprouts RELATED:International Cooking and Recipes. Con Poulos

Spicy Asian Chicken With Brussels Sprouts

Saute sliced or shaved Brussels sprouts in sesame oil with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar for a deliciously salty-savory companion to chicken and rice.

Get the recipe.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Manchego and Almonds
Roland Bello

Brussels Sprouts With Almonds and Manchego

Sweet and bitter sprouts meet salty, nutty manchego cheese and crunchy almonds for a new take on the side salad.

Get the recipe.

Brussels Sprouts Flatbread
If you've got store-bought pizza dough and a bag of brussels sprouts, you're halfway to zesty, spicy, cheesy nirvana. The best part? Feed a crowd with this flatbread as an appetizer, or cut it into larger pieces to make it a meal. It doesn't get much easier than that. Get the Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Flatbread. Brie Passano

Brussels Sprouts Flatbread With Lemon and Pecorino

This seasonal flatbread feeds a crowd, making it perfect for a weeknight family dinner or even dinner party (yes, really!).

Get the recipe.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans
Chopped pecans add a nutty crunch to the tender sprouts. Get the recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans . John Kernick

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans

This fall and winter veggie side dish is classic, cozy, and bursting with savory notes, courtesy of healthy pecans.

Get the recipe.

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Sources
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