Brussel Sprouts

The modern day version of this cruciferous vegetable was developed in Brussels, Belgium, of which it’s name was derived [i].  A winter stock vegetable, it’s best known for its bitter taste and resemblance to cabbage, both in look and flavor.  However, when prepared correctly, the brussel sprout can supply a wonderful nutty, savory flavor.

 

Sprouts for Health

What makes this bitter crop special when it comes to health?  Like many vegetables, brussel sprouts are packed with fiber and nutrients including vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, helping to reduce the harm of free radicals. Vitamin K is also abundant, and plays a major role in blood clotting.  Like many other vegetables, the high fiber content of brussel sprouts are important for regulating digestion as well as protecting against the risk of heart disease [ii].  But what about cancer?  

 

Combating Cancer Treatment Side Effects

A recent study published in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment journal examined the relationship between soy intake, cruciferous vegetable intake and side effects related to breast cancer treatment such as fatigue and menopausal symptoms.  The study found that higher intakes of cruciferous vegetable were associated with lower chances of experiencing fatigue and menopausal related symptoms from cancer treatment and procedures within some of the populations.  While this is interesting, more research needs to be done [iii].

 

Where to Purchase

Although a winter vegetable, majority of brussel sprouts are sourced from California throughout the year and can be found stocking portions of the produce shelves at many grocery stores.  Because it’s a winter stock veggie, check your local farmer’s markets in the wintertime for some of the freshest brussel sprouts around!

 

From Bitter to Better

We all know brussel sprouts get somewhat of a bad rep for their inherently bitter flavor, so what are some ways to make them more palatable?  Sautéing as well as roasting are two popular methods used to reduce the bitterness and bring out the sweeter nuttier flavor of brussel sprouts. Cutting the sprouts in half prior to cooking, and selecting brussel sprouts that are small and dense, result in a gentler flavor [iv].  Be on the lookout for our recipe this month using this nutritious sprout.

 

References
[i] New World Encyclopedia Contributors. Brussel Sprouts. New world encyclopedia. (2016).  Accessed at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Brussels_sprout
[ii] Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. The nutrition source: brussel sprouts. Accessed at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/brussels-sprouts/
[iii] Nomura, S.J.O., Hwang, Y, Gomez, S.L., Fung, T.T., etal. Dietary intake of soy and cruciferous vegetables and treatment-related symptoms in chinese-american and non-hispanic white breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. (2017) Pp1-13.
[iv] Roth, E. How to reduce the bitter taste in brussel sprouts. Livestrong.com. (2017). Accessed at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/500839-how-to-reduce-the-bitter-taste-in-brussels-sprouts/
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