Brussels Sprouts Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Brussels Sprouts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Brussels sprouts are hearty with a strong, nutty flavor. You can purchase a fresh Brussels sprout stalk, which hosts small heads neatly aligned side by side in rows, or you can buy a bag of loose sprouts, fresh or frozen. Enjoy them raw and shredded in a salad or roasted to perfection.

Brussels sprouts are low in carbohydrates with lots of filling fiber. While it's no surprise that Brussels sprouts are a healthy food, they aren't always prepared in the healthiest way. Many Brussels sprouts recipes call for ingredients like bacon, butter, or maple syrup, quickly racking up the saturated fat and sugar content. Be mindful of your preparation to get the maximum benefits from this nutritional powerhouse.

Brussels Sprouts Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (156g) of Brussels sprouts cooked with no added fat or sodium.

  • Calories: 56
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Sodium: 16mg
  • Carbohydrates: 11g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Sugars: 2.7g
  • Protein: 4g

Carbs

Of the 11 grams of carbohydrates in a 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts, a little over 4 grams are from fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that helps keep you full, reduces cholesterol, regulates bowels, and helps stabilize blood sugar.

Brussels sprouts have a very low glycemic index, so they are a great choice for those on a low-carb diet or anyone who is watching their blood sugar.

Fats

Brussels sprouts contain negligible amounts of fat with a greater percentage coming from unsaturated fats than saturated fats.

Protein

With about 4 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked, Brussels sprouts are a decent source of plant-based protein, especially if you have multiple servings. Brussels sprouts are not a complete source of all the essential amino acids, however, so it is important to eat a variety of protein sources rather than relying on Brussels sprouts alone.

Vitamins and Minerals

Brussels sprouts are a source of the B-vitamins necessary for cellular energy production, including vitamin B6, thiamine, and folate. Brussels sprouts contain 24% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, which is great for your eyes and internal organs. They also contain manganese, which helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. 

Health Benefits

Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They're rich in fiber and phytonutrients, which offer a host of health benefits.

Aids Healing

Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin K. If you cut yourself, vitamin K helps your blood clot to prevent excessive bleeding. Furthermore, vitamin C promotes tissue repair by helping the body produce collagen.

Promotes Immunity

The immune system benefits of Brussels sprouts likely come from its numerous phytochemicals. Bioactive compounds in cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, reduce inflammation, induce immune functions, and stimulate natural detoxification.

Supports Strong Bones

The vitamin K in Brussels sprouts also plays an important role in bone formation. There are multiple vitamin K-dependent proteins involved in bone mineralization, turnover, and calcification. Brussels sprout's protein content also helps support muscle and bone strength.

Helps Reduce Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

The fiber in Brussels sprouts (and other vegetables) has long been associated with appetite control and maintaining a healthy weight. Plant-based eating plans have been shown to reduce circulating levels of the appetite hormone, leptin.

Although leptin sends fullness cues to the brain, high leptin levels can cause resistance to leptin's message. A high-vegetable menu reduces this effect and protects against metabolic syndrome.

May Reduce Risk of Some Cancers

Brussels sprouts are one of the cruciferous vegetables shown to have anti-cancer properties. There is some evidence that this may in part be due to the activation of certain enzymes in the liver that bind to carcinogens.

Research seems particularly promising in the prevention of breast and ovarian cancer. Dose-dependent associations have been observed between the intake of cooked cruciferous vegetables and the development of ovarian cancer.

Allergies

People with an intolerance to histamine-rich foods may experience allergy-like symptoms after eating Brussels sprouts. There is potential for cross-reactivity in people with allergies to cabbage, peaches, or mustard.

Adverse Effects

Brassica vegetables (crucifers) such as Brussels sprouts can cause gastrointestinal issues in some people, especially when eaten raw. Cooking Brussels sprouts makes them easier to digest. Brussels sprouts are not recommended for people following a low-FODMAP diet to manage gastrointestinal symptoms.

Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts are goitrogenic, which means they might interfere with iodine uptake, disrupting the thyroid gland's production of hormones necessary for regulating metabolism. There is a weak association between thyroid cancer, goiters, and the intake of cruciferous vegetables in some populations, particularly in women with iodine deficiencies. There is not sufficient evidence to warrant a dietary restriction of Brussels sprouts, though.

If you take the medication Coumadin (warfarin) as a blood thinner, your doctor may advise you to eat a consistent amount of green leafy vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, to keep your clotting levels stable. Be sure to discuss your eating habits with your doctor when taking blood thinners.

When It's Best

You can usually find Brussels sprouts year-round, but peak season falls in the autumn and winter months. Brussels sprouts are best when harvested after a frost. They should be 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter and hard, green, and compact.

Frozen Brussels sprouts are an equally nutritious alternative to fresh. Canned and pickled Brussels sprouts are also available for use in certain dishes (and even cocktails in place of olives). These preserved varieties are likely to be higher in sodium with a slightly diminished nutritional value. Rinse before eating to reduce some of the excess sodium.

Storage and Food Safety

Whole, uncut Brussels sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five weeks, but after a couple of days, the quality starts to decrease. For longer-term storage, blanch and freeze Brussels sprouts for up to one year. Before cutting fresh Brussels sprouts, wash your hands well and remove the damaged outer leaves. Rinse Brussels sprouts under running water and dry with a clean paper towel.

How to Prepare

Brussels sprouts can be steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or shredded to use in slaws and salads. Cook them simply with a small amount of salt, pepper, and olive oil, or fancy them up by adding heart-healthy nuts and spices.

  • If using frozen sprouts, let them defrost before cooking.
  • Cook the sprouts until they are fork-tender and have turned a vibrant green with a few golden brown spots (overcooking sprouts affects their texture and turns them a drab green/khaki). This takes about five minutes when pan-frying.
  • To reduce cooking time, you can blanch your Brussels sprouts first. Place them in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds and then transfer them to an ice bath to slow down the cooking process. When you are ready to prepare them, cook them as you wish and serve immediately.
  • Turn the sprouts every so often to prevent them from burning. 

Recipes

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