Brussels sprouts: Your flu season allies

01 Dec 2023

If you’re only familiar with the overboiled Brussels sprouts, stay with us! When you treat them right, Brussels sprouts unveil a nutty sweetness that pairs well with diverse ingredients and brings many health benefits to your plate.

In a Nutshell

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Health Potential

Here are 3 reasons to add Brussels sprouts to your meals:

1. Disease prevention: Regularly eating Brassica or cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, is linked to a lower risk of heart diseasecancer and depression. In one study, older women who ate over 45g of cruciferous veggies daily were 46% less likely to develop calcium buildup on their aorta, which may be an early sign of heart disease.

2. Beneficial compounds: They might be small but Brussels sprouts contribute many valuable compounds, especially…

  • Glucosinolates, which are broken down into beneficial isothiocyanates by our gut microbiota. Brussel sprouts contain higher amounts than broccoli, giving rise to their characteristic bitterness.
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K, which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels.
  • Dietary fibre

3. Brussels sprouts might be your flu season allies: According to recent pre-clinical research, compounds in cruciferous vegetables could help protect against lung infection by regulating the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). They found that flu-infected mice on a diet rich in these compounds had improved lung barrier integrity and less lung damage than mice on the control diet. We need human research to confirm these potential benefits.

In daily life: Eat an extra serving of greens, like Brussels sprouts, every day. Just 6 to 8 Brussels sprouts make an 80g serving. Mix it up with a variety of vegetables.

Plant Tales

Brussels sprouts are part of the vast ‘Brassicaceae’ family, also called ‘Cruciferous’ – from the Latin ‘cross-bearing’, owing to their four-petalled cross-shaped flowers. They join forces with cabbage, broccoli, and spicier cousins like mustard and wasabi.

They’re named after the Belgian capital, where they became a popular crop in the 16th century. They may have been grown in Belgium as early as 1200, but the first recorded description of it dates to 1587. Later on, French and English gardeners started growing them as valuable winter vegetables.

Better now than what you remember from childhood! The bitterness of sprouts mainly stems from the glucosinolates sinigrin and progoitrin, which were identified in the 1990s by a Dutch scientist. Milder and sweeter modern varieties have since been developed with lower levels of ‘bitter’ compounds. And taste perception changes as we age, which can make them much more enjoyable!

Be part of their culinary renaissance! Brussels sprouts have revived in recent decades with chefs elevating them to gourmet status through creative food pairings and cooking techniques. There are more than 110 different varieties of Brussels sprouts available, including a sprout/kale hybrid called the ‘Flower Sprout’.

Sweeter after the first frost… Brussels sprouts are a quintessential fall and early winter vegetable. They reach their sweetest flavour after the first frost as cold temperature triggers the conversion of starches into sugars as a natural antifreeze for the plant. Hence the saying “won’t eat sprouts until the first frost”!

Cooking & Flavour

 If you’re not convinced (yet)…

  1. Choose smaller sprouts, preferably local during the colder season, for a more delicate flavour. Try different varieties to find your favourite taste profile.
  2. Don’t overcook them… Instead of boiling, opt for quick and vibrant methods like sautéing to maintain their crunch.
  3. Brussels sprouts are team players! Contrast their slight bitterness with other flavours like citrus, balsamic vinegar, sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes or rich ingredients like cheese. For an extra touch, grate some fresh nutmeg.

5 ways to enjoy them

  • Frittata or omelette: Sauté with other veggies like parsnips and carrots, add whisked eggs, seasoning, sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Cook on the stove or oven until golden and set.
  • Stir-fry: Sauté with olive oil and other veggies like shredded cabbage, edamame beans, and carrots. Add cooked noodles and a sauce made of soy sauce, lime juice, and peanut butter.
  • Miso glaze: Halve Brussels sprouts, toss on a baking tray, and cover with a glaze made with miso paste, mirin, lime juice, and chilli flakes.
  • Kimchi, as a substitute for cabbage.
  • Slaw: Toss shredded Brussels sprouts with a tangy dressing, toasted nuts and dried fruits.

4 recipes for the week



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