Sprouts – Are They Really A Wonder Food?

Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family and therefore kin to broccoli and cabbage.

Sprouts have some well documented health benefits. For example, they can work better than antibiotics in preventing stomach ulcers related to overgrowth of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. However, an outbreak that caused the death of 17 people in Japan in 1996, brought out warnings ’round the world.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the dangers of eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts and recommend cooking all sprouts to lower risk of infection. The FDA specifically mentioned alfalfa, clover, and radish sprouts in this initial warning. In 2002, it focused on mung bean and alfalfa sprouts in a renewed warning about consumption of these foods.

Expert Studies Validate Sprout Nutrition and Health Benefits

Scientists have studied sprouts for centuries to better understand their high levels of disease-preventing phytochemicals, and how they contribute to better health, from prevention to treatment of life-threatening diseases.

Major organizations including the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins University have reinforced the benefits of sprouts with ongoing studies that explore various sprout varieties for their nutritional properties and to validate health claims. A recent study has shown improved stability of DNA inside of our white blood cells after daily consumption of Brussels sprouts in the amount of 1.25 cups.

According to the American Cancer Society NEWS, “broccoli sprouts are better for you than full-grown broccoli, and contain more of the enzyme sulforaphane which helps protect cells and prevents their genes from turning into cancer.

The findings are consistent with several epidemiologic studies that have shown that sprouts contain significant amounts of vitamins A, C and D. Sprouts are widely recognized by nutrition conscious consumers and health care professionals as a “wonder food.”

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are now at the top of the list of commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables.The cancer protection we get from Brussels sprouts is largely related to four specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin, and gluconasturtiian. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-preventive components in special combination.

Prevention of the following types of cancer is most closely associated with the ingestion of Brussels sprouts: bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate and ovarian.

Fiber in Brussels Sprouts

The fiber content of Brussels sprouts is 4 grams in every cup. This fact makes this cruciferous vegetable a natural choice for digestive system support. You’re going to get half of your Daily Value for fiber from only 200 calories’ worth of Brussels sprouts.

Nutrients in Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of numerous nutrients including folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin (vitamin B1) and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, protein, molybdenum, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin E, calcium, and niacin. In addition to these nutrients, Brussels sprouts contain numerous disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Cooked Brussels sprouts make a great snack food that is small, compact and can be eaten as is or seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Selecting & Cooking Sprouts

Select bright green, firm sprouts that feel heavy for their size. Avoid puffy sprouts with black spots or yellow leaves. Trim the stem ends, leaving the leaves intact. Cutting a shallow “X” with a small knife in each stem helps the sprouts cook evenly. Cook sprouts with just a squeeze of lemon for delicious flavor. They’re also great added to stir fries, soups, or stews or grated raw on salads.

To bring out the natural sweetness of in-season Brussels sprouts, don’t overcook them. To test for doneness – whether boiling, steaming, microwaving or sauteing – insert the tip of a small knife into the stem end of a sprout: It should be barely tender.

Hate Brussels Sprouts?

Here is a tasty way to try them: Mix one head of chopped cauliflower with one pound of fresh, halved Brussels sprouts, 2-tablespoons olive oil, 3-tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs and three sprigs of rosemary. Bake at 400-degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with 1-teaspoon lemon juice and serve.

How About a Shredded Sprout Salad?

  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts (can substitute other types)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Spices as desired

Shred carrots and cabbage. Dice celery. Combine all ingredients in bowl and toss. Add desired spices over the top.

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