Part 3 in a series looking at “Vitamins or Vegetables.”
From my last post, you know that beets remind me of little gems, and now I tell you that brussel sprouts remind me of little candies! They are sweet but also bitter, as well as soft in the outside and firm in the center. Brussel sprouts are known as “brassica” or cruciferous vegetables, and the name is derived from the Latin word “crucifer,” because their four yellow-petal flower forms a cross. Other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower and turnips. This family of vegetables offers some amazing nutritional value, perhaps unparalleled by any other group of food. Brussel sprouts can be roasted, steamed, sautéed, stir-fried; however, I recommend steaming or roasting at higher temperatures in order to preserve maximal nutritional value. Additionally, overcooking brussel sprouts leads to the release of a strong sulfur aroma, which many find unappealing. Nevertheless, the naturally occurring sulfur-containing nutrients serve as the basis of their potent antioxidant and protective properties.
Here is why you should include brussel sprouts in your diet and why members of the cruciferous family of vegetables are super foods. Since brussel sprouts are cruciferous, keep in mind that all vegetables in this category share these properties.
1. Brussel sprouts are full of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, manganese, copper, iron, and calcium, just to name a few of their nutrients they boast. Brussel sprouts pack in high levels of fiber which supports digestive health, while remaining low in calories.
2. Brussel sprouts contain sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing compound shown to induce quinone reductase and glutathione transferase activities, which are detoxifying pathways that appear to have anti-cancer properties. This article published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science demonstrate how these antioxidant properties act to stabilize and protect DNA.
3. Brussel sprouts have liver protective properties, again through induction of detoxifying pathways.
4. Brussel sprouts have anti-inflammatory properties, from their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, despite that fact that they are a low fat food. This offers cardiovascular protection.
5. A recent study published by the Journal of the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications , documents how sulforaphane deactivates H. pylori, a bacteria whose overgrowth is associated with peptic ulcer disease as well as stomach cancer. This may be helpful as a adjunct to standard medical treatment for h. pylori. (not a substitution!)
With this in mind, you can be sure to enjoy your sprouts! Here is a simple method of steaming sprouts:
Wash and drain sprouts. Slice the bottom stem off and peel outer few leaves. Place in shallow pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon kosher salt over sprouts and then drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook on medium-high heat until water boils. Then cover the lid and continue to cook for about 6-7 minutes over medium heat, until water is evaporated. Sprouts should be soft and bright green. Enjoy!
The first step is cutting and preparing the sprouts. By gently peeling the leaves away from the heads of the sprouts, you get crispy chips with the sprouts.
Enjoy these sprouts on a cold evening! Garnish with a lemon.