Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Brussels Sprouts: Why You Shouldn't Toss Them Out

When you were a kid, you're most likely guilty of this crime: Tossing the Brussels sprouts back into the serving dish when your mom wasn't looking. If you're still doing that - shame on you! - you are missing out on a lot of nutrients.

Cousin to broccoli and cabbage, Brussels sprouts are loaded with phytochemical nutrients. Plant phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts enhance the activity of the body's natural defence systems to protect against disease, including cancer. Scientists have found that sulforaphane, one of the powerful glucosinolate phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thus, helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

The hearty vegetable also provides plenty of vitamins A and C, two powerful antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of some cancers. In addition, vitamin A boosts immune-system function and promotes healthy, resilient skin. Folate, another heart-healthy nutrient found in the sprouts, may protect against cognitive decline and is essential for pregnant women, as it helps prevent birth defects.

Buy Tip: Choose sprout heads of roughly the same size so they'll cook evenly. Avoid those with excessive leaf perforations; they may contain common garden pests.