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Brussel sprouts nutrition facts

Brussel sprouts are small leafy green buds resemble like miniature cabbages in appearance. The buds are exceptionally rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which work wonders to get rid of many health troubles. In fact, a renewed interest is growing about health benefits these sprouts have to offer.

Botanically, the sprouts belong to the same Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, and kale. Scientific name: Brassica oleracea (Gemmifera Group).

brussel sprouts brussels sprouts1
Brussel sprouts. Close-up view. Note that brussels heads resembling miniature cabbages. Sprouts grow from below upwards all along the stalk.

Brussels sprouts are winter crops, flourishes well in cool weather and light frost conditions. Well-grown plant reaches about 90 cm in height. The sprouts are produced all along the stalk, starting from the base and moving upward. Each sprout, in general, features similarity in appearance and structure to cabbage, but only very small, measuring about 1-1.5 inches in diameter.

In structure, each head consists of clusters of stiff leaves superimposed in compact layers giving it a round or globular shape as in cabbages.

In order to get uniform sprouts, the tip of the stalk is cut as soon as sprouts at the bottom start to develop. In addition, sprouts exposed to hot weather do not form into compact buds. Sprouts are one of the most popular vegetables in the United States and Mediterranean Europe.

Health benefits of brussel sprouts

  • The sprouts are one of the low-glycemic nutritious vegetables that should be considered in weight reduction programs. 100 g brussel sprouts provide just 45 calories, nonetheless, contain 3.38 g of protein, 3.80 g of dietary fiber (10% of RDA) and zero cholesterol.

  • In fact, brussels sprouts are a storehouse of several flavonoid anti-oxidants like thiocyanates, indoles, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Together, these phytochemicals offer protection from prostate, colon, and endometrial cancers.

  • Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol is found to be an effective immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent through its action of potentiating "Interferon-γ" receptors.

  • In addition, brussel sprouts contain glucoside, sinigrin. Early laboratory studies suggest that sinigrin help protect from colon cancers by destroying pre-cancerous cells.

  • Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C; 100 g sprouts provide about 85 mg or 142% of RDA. Together with other antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A and E, it helps protect the body by trapping harmful free radicals.

  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid in sprouts, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula-lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide anti-oxidant and protective light-filtering functions from UV rays. Thus, it helps prevent retinal damage, "age-related macular degeneration related macular degeneration disease" (ARMD), in the elderly.

  • Sprouts are the good source of another anti-oxidant vitamin A, provides about 754 IU per 100g. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for acuity of vision. Foods rich in this vitamin have been found to offer protection against lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • It is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 177 µg or about 147% of RDA. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain and thereby, preventing or at least, delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Further, the sprouts are notably good in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, pantothenic acid, etc., that are essential for substrate metabolism inside the human body.

  • They are also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. 100 g fresh sprouts provide 25 mg (1.5% of RDA) sodium and 389 mg (8% of RDA) potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutaseIron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.

Brussels sprouts are incredibly nutritious vegetable that offers protection from vitamin A deficiency, bone loss, iron-deficiency anemia, and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Brussel sprouts (Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group), fresh, Nutrition value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 43 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 8.95 g 7%
Protein 3.38 g 6%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.80 g 10%
Folates 61 µg 15%
Niacin 0.745 mg 4.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.309 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.219 mg 17%
Riboflavin 0.90 mg 7%
Thiamin 0.139 mg 13%
Vitamin A 754 IU 25%
Vitamin C 85 mg 142%
Vitamin K 177 µg 147%
Sodium 25 mg 1.5%
Potassium 389 mg 8%
Calcium 42 mg 4%
Copper 0.70 mg 8%
Iron 1.40 mg 17.5%
Magnesium 23 mg 6%
Manganese 0.337 mg 15%
Phosphorus 69 mg 10%
Selenium 1.6 µg 3%
Zinc 0.42 mg 4%
Carotene-α 6 µg --
Carotene-ß 450 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 1590 µg --

Selection and storage

Brussel sprouts are cool season vegetables. In general, sprouts are harvested when the lower buds mature and reach about an inch in size. Fresh sprouts should feature firm, compact and dark green. Avoid sprouts featuring loose leaf, yellowish and light in hand.

Fresh sprouts keep well in the refrigerator for up to a day or two. Remove any damaged or discolored outer leaves and store fresh unwashed sprouts in plastic bags/zip pouches in the vegetable container in the refrigerator.

Preparation and serving methods

Before cooking, remove discolored and loosen outer leaves and the stems are trimmed. Wash in clean water and then, soak for few minutes in salt water to remove any dust particles and insect’s eggs.

Fresh sprouts are delicate in flavor, however, overcooking results in the release of allyl isothiocyanates imparting sulfurous odor (pungent smell) to cooked recipes. Therefore, sprouts are generally blanched in boiling water for just about 5 minutes, cooled and then added to the recipes.

Here are some serving tips:

roasted brussel sprouts wwith greens and stuffed omelette
Roasted brussel sprouts with greens and stuffed omelette.
Photo courtesy: vkanaya.
  • Sprouts can be cooked by boiling, microwaving or steaming.

  • Roasted and salted sprouts are one of the favorite snacks across Europe.

  • Blanched sprouts are braised/ mixed with other vegetables like carrot, green beans or mushrooms.

  • The sprouts are used as favorite add on in chicken casseroles.

Safety profile

Being Brassica family vegetables, brussel sprouts may contain goitrogens, which may cause swelling of thyroid gland and should be avoided in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. However, they may be used liberally in healthy person.(Medical disclaimer)

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