11 Wonderful Benefits of Brussels Sprouts

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Brussels sprouts are not only a versatile food in many cultural cuisines, but they also pack a number of health benefits, possibly including their potential ability to lower cholesterol, balance hormone levels, improve digestion, protect the heart, aid the immune system, and increase circulation, among others. These sprouts are also valued for their ability to reduce oxidative stress and help in preventing cancer.

What are Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage and bear the scientific name Brassica oleracea. The sprouts are grown on long stalks that can be harvested multiple times each year, and they are small, green bulbs that look like miniature cabbages. The taste of brussels sprouts is also quite similar to cabbage, notably quite bitter, but can be improved significantly when they are broiled or cooked. Brussels sprouts, as the name implies, were grown in and around the region of Brussels, Belgium for centuries. This cabbage varietal is native to the Mediterranean and European region and is now primarily grown in the Netherlands and Germany. [1]

Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin A, vitamin K as well as dietary fiber, manganese, copper, potassium, and many other essential vitamins. They also include flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds. [2]

Brussels sprouts are prepared in many different ways around the world, ranging from roasting, broiling, and frying to steaming and adding them to a stir-fry. Brussels sprouts should never be overcooked, as the flavor can become quite sour or unpleasant. However, when cooked properly, brussels sprouts can be complementary to many meat dishes, and can be topped with dozens of sauces and spices. Aside from their delicious flavor, many people add brussels sprouts to their diet in order to enjoy the many health benefits of this miniature cabbage.

Fresh green Brussels sprouts in a ceramic bowl on a wooden table

Roast Brussels sprouts with garlic and sprinkle salt on them for a perfect side dish. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Brussels sprouts, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]86
Energy 43
Energy [kJ]179
Protein [g]3.38
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.3
Ash [g]1.37
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]8.95
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.8
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]2.2
Sucrose [g]0.46
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.81
Fructose [g]0.93
Calcium, Ca [mg]42
Iron, Fe [mg]1.4
Magnesium, Mg [mg]23
Phosphorus, P [mg]69
Potassium, K [mg]389
Sodium, Na [mg]25
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.42
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.34
Selenium, Se [µg]1.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]85
Thiamin [mg]0.14
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]0.75
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.31
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.22
Folate, total [µg]61
Folate, food [µg]61
Folate, DFE [µg]61
Choline, total [mg]19.1
Betaine [mg]0.8
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]38
Carotene, beta [µg]450
Carotene, alpha [µg]6
Vitamin A, IU [IU]754
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]1590
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.88
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]177
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.06
8:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.05
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.15
18:2 [g]0.05
18:3 [g]0.1
20:4 [g]0
Phytosterols [mg]24
Tryptophan [g]0.04
Threonine [g]0.12
Isoleucine [g]0.13
Leucine [g]0.15
Lysine [g]0.15
Methionine [g]0.03
Cystine [g]0.02
Phenylalanine [g]0.1
Valine [g]0.16
Arginine [g]0.2
Histidine [g]0.08
Sources include : USDA [3]

Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts

Health benefits of Brussels include the following:

May Boost Immune System

One of the most impressive characteristics of brussels sprouts is their possibly high vitamin C content. A single cup of brussels sprouts contains more than 120% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. This is critical for the health of your immune system, as vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and acts as an antioxidant in the body, reducing oxidative stress and lowering your chances of chronic diseases. [4]

May Improve Digestion

Like most cruciferous vegetables and types of cabbage, brussels sprouts may contain a possibly high level of dietary fiber. Fiber can help to bulk up the stool and promote healthy digestion by reducing constipation and stimulating peristaltic motion, which helps food move through the digestive tracts more smoothly. [5]

May Help in Pregnancy

The high level of folic acid found within brussels sprouts may make them very important for expectant mothers. Folic acid is crucial in preventing neural tube defects, which affect thousands of infants every year. B-family vitamins are very important for developmental processes when you are with a child. [6]

May Have Anticancer Potential

Research conducted by Christine Hoelzl from the Institute of Cancer Research, Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Austria shows some positive correlation between the consumption of vegetables and cancer prevention. It may show that consuming Brussels sprouts can help in protecting against oxidative DNA damage. [7]

Another study published in the journal Carcinogenesis shows that Brussels sprouts help in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. This is mainly due to the presence of glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels. [8]

Studies have also found that the antioxidant content of these cruciferous vegetables is able to reduce oxidative stress thereby protecting against cancer. [9]

May Help in Blood Clotting

Vitamin K is one of the most commonly overlooked vitamins, but this is necessary for blood clotting throughout the body. A single cup of brussels sprouts contains more than 240% of your daily recommended vitamin K, ensuring that your blood clots properly, while also protecting heart health and boosting bone strength. [10]

May Help Balance Hormone Levels

Studies have found that the active ingredients and volatile compounds found in brussels sprouts affect the thyroid gland and its many functions within the body. This can help regulate hormone levels in the body, which can affect everything from metabolic function to digestive efficiency and energy levels. [11]

May Help Heal Wounds

Vitamin C does more than simply boost the immune system; it is also an important component in collagen, which is required for the production of skin, muscle, and tissue cells. Without proper vitamin C levels, which brussels sprouts provide, the body is unable to rapidly recover from illness and injury. [12]

May Improve Bone Strength

There is a broad range of minerals found in brussels sprouts, which may include manganese, copper, phosphorus, and iron, all of which are needed to build strong bones and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. It may prevent bone mineral density loss. A diet rich in brussels sprouts can keep you feeling healthy and active as you age. [13]

May Reduce Blood Pressure

Potassium is an extremely important mineral in the body, because it acts as a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce the tension and pressure of the blood vessels and arteries, thereby relieving strain on the cardiovascular system. This can lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease. [14]

May Lower Inflammation

Brussels sprouts contain substances called glucosinolates, which are able to regulate the body’s inflammatory response. For those suffering from arthritis, gout, oxidative stress, and other inflammatory conditions, regular consumption of brussels sprouts can help get the body back on track and reduce pain. [15]

May Increase Metabolism

The high level of B-family vitamins found in these vegetables, including riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, and others, makes this vegetable a key part of a healthy metabolism. This can help the body digest food more effectively, use the nutrients more efficiently, and burn calories faster. [16]

May Aid in Weight-loss Efforts

Brussels sprouts contain significant levels of dietary fiber, which is known to help with weight-loss efforts. Fiber can stimulate the release of the hormone leptin, meaning that you won’t have cravings to eat. This can eliminate snacking between meals, cleanse your colon and bowels, and eliminate bloating and cramping that often accompanies aggressive weight-loss strategies. [17]

Word of Caution: For people who are on blood-clotting medicine such as warfarin, brussels sprouts can be dangerous, given the excessive amount of vitamin K, which improves the body’s ability to clot the blood. Doubling up, in this way, can be dangerous and actually lead to cardiovascular complications. Before adding any new vegetables or healthy options to your diet, speak to your doctor to prevent any overlaps or negative interactions with your prescribed medications.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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