Brussels sprouts aren't among the most well-loved vegetables. But as a member of the nutritionally potent cruciferous family, they're worth a place in your healthy diet. Not only are Brussels sprouts a good source of protein, iron and potassium, but they also offer other benefits that can boost your overall health.
Vitamin C is essential for normal growth and development. The nutrient keeps your immune system strong and helps maintain the health of your skin, teeth and gums. Vitamin C protects your cells from damage as well, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. A 1/2-cup serving of Brussels sprouts contains 48 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 50 percent of what men need each day and about 65 percent of what women need on a daily basis.
The average diet contains far less than the 25 to 30 grams of fiber needed for good health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fiber keeps your digestive system working normally, encourages regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. Fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. A 1/2-cup serving of Brussels sprouts supplies 2 grams of fiber.
Often called folic acid, folate is a B vitamin that is present in
large doses in leafy green vegetables. Folate aids in the formation of the neural tube and can help prevent certain birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate. It also plays a role in the formation and maintenance of DNA. Folate might reduce your homocysteine levels, which may reduce your risk of heart disease, according to MayoClinic.com. One-half cup of Brussels sprouts provides 47 micrograms of folate. This translates to about 12 percent of the 400 micrograms you need each day.
Antioxidants and More
Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients called organosulfur compounds, which have antioxidant properties. These beneficial compounds help protect your cells from oxidative stress, a type of damage that can harm your DNA. A report published in Recent Patents on Endocrine, Metabolic and Immune Drug Discovery notes that these same compounds also have some cancer-fighting properties and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Steam Brussels sprouts just until they are tender to help retain as many of their beneficial nutrients as possible. Drizzle steamed Brussels sprouts with olive oil and fresh garlic for a nutrient-dense side dish. Chop cooked Brussels sprouts and add them to a tossed green salad, pasta sauce or soup. Saute Brussels sprouts with onions and garlic and use the combination as a tasty and nutritious topping for grilled salmon.