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The Health Benefits of the Veggie Everyone Loves to Hate

Brussels sprouts: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they really do have an exceptional nutritional profile. A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts (about seven cooked sprouts) provides more than twice the vitamin K and all the vitamin C you need each day. In addition, they're an excellent source of folate and a good source of thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), potassium, iron, and fiber. They also contain glucosinolates—sulfur-containing compounds which are found in all cruciferous vegetables and that appear to help neutralize some toxins in the body, although this aspect of glucosinolates is not yet fully understood. And, compared to related crucifers like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, Brussels sprouts have among the highest glucosinolate content. Enzymes and a variety of plant antioxidants that are believed to contribute to heart disease prevention are also found in this nutritious vegetable.

Cooking can help to activate and release some of these nutrients, but don’t cook them too long, or some nutrients will be lost. Try cutting the sprouts into halves or quarters before cooking. Steaming or stir-frying Brussels sprouts appears to result in the best retention of antioxidants. Some tasty ways to prepare them include: steaming them until they are bright green and slightly soft, and then drizzling them with an olive oil and mustard-based dressing; or drizzling them with olive oil, sprinkling them with salt, and stir frying them with minced garlic and chopped walnuts or pecans until the edges are lightly browned. If you decide to boil your sprouts, be sure to use the water for a soup base afterwards, since it is likely to contain some of the antioxidants the sprouts lost.

Source: USDA

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