Aptly named for the city that they originated in, Brussels sprouts have been growing in the cool, lush Belgian countryside for over 400 years. These mini cabbages may be small in size, but mighty in well, pretty much everything else. The versatile veggie has become a must-have on foodie’s plates. You can serve them air-fried, roasted, grilled, smashed, or even shredded raw into a crunchy salad. The side dish possibilities are endless.
But are Brussels sprouts good for you? Brussels sprouts offer up a series of beneficial plant compounds. But they can also result in gas and bloating — and for some health conditions, Brussels sprouts can present certain risks (more on that ahead). If you’ve ever wondered if these popular li’l lettuce-looking veggies are actually healthy, keep reading to get the scoop.
Brussels Sprouts Nutrition
Brussels sprouts are jam-packed with good-for-you nutrients that many of us can use more of. Here are some nutrients found in one cup of Brussels sprouts, per the USDA:
- Calories: 30
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 8 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugars: 2 grams
- Calcium: 37 mg
- Iron: 1 mg
- Sodium: 22 mg
- Vitamin C: 75 mg
Along with these important macro and micronutrients, Brussels sprouts, being classified as a cruciferous vegetable, contain plant compounds that can support our health in various ways. For example, lutein and zeaxanthin, found in Brussels sprouts, may support vision health.
Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are tiny veggies that pack a punch in the nutrition department. “Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing plant compounds called glucosinolates that break down to another compound called isothiocyinates,” Melissa Azzaro, registered dietitian and author of A Balanced Approach to PCOS, told POPSUGAR. “Isothiocyinates have been linked to a lower risk for certain cancers and slower tumor growth.”
Azzaro also adds that certain compounds in Brussels sprouts “increase detoxification enzymes, including glutathione, in the body, and have antioxidant activity that is protective against cell damage and inflammation.”
Brussels sprouts are a natural source of vitamin K which is important for bone health, says registered dietitian, Sarah Anzlovar. She also highlights that these veggies contain vitamin C (a nutrient that supports immune health) and folate, which “is especially important for women in their reproductive years,” as this nutrient supports neural tube development during pregnancy.
The fiber found in Brussels sprouts may also offer some benefit. “Fiber helps promote balanced blood sugars and healthy digestion,” Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition LLC, shared.
Are There Any Risks to Eating Brussels Sprouts?
Despite the many health benefits of eating Brussels sprouts, including their high vitamin C and fiber content, there are potential risks to consider. For individuals on blood-thinning medication, the high vitamin K content in Brussels sprouts could interfere with the drug’s efficacy. Additionally, Brussels sprouts are goitrogenic, meaning they could interfere with thyroid function when consumed in large amounts, particularly in individuals with existing thyroid conditions.
In addition to the risks mentioned earlier, Brussels sprouts may also contribute to increased gas and bloating. This is due to their high fiber content, which can be difficult for some people to digest. In particular, Brussels sprouts contain a type of carbohydrate called raffinose that our bodies cannot break down. It gets fermented by bacteria in the gut, leading to gas and bloating. If you are sensitive to this effect, it’s advised to introduce Brussels sprouts into your diet gradually and drink ample water to aid digestion.
So, Are Brussels Sprouts Good For You?
Brussels sprouts are absolutely good for most people. Between the nutrients it provides to the compounds that help support many aspects of our health, the potential benefits associated with eating these veggies are countless. When consumed in moderation and as part of a varied diet, Brussels sprouts can indeed be good for your overall health.