How healthy is the Brussel’s sprouts?

Brussels sprouts, is a hardy, slow-growing, long-season vegetable belonging to the cabbage family. Brussels sprout has the appearance of a “cute little baby” cabbage. Like other members of the cabbage family Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable.

Brussels sprouts are grown much like the related Cole crops, cabbage and broccoli. In the proper season of the year, it can be grown in most areas. The Brussels sprouts that resemble miniature cabbages are produced in the leaf axils, starting at the base of the stem and working upward.

They should be harvested when the sprouts are small, compact and bright green and they are no larger than 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. Avoid yellowing sprouts with signs of wilt rot or insect damage. Like cabbage, Brussels sprouts are a cool weather crop.

The fresher the sprouts, the better the flavour, so refrigerator storage should not exceed a day or two. Remove any damaged or irregular outer leaves and store fresh unwashed sprouts in plastic bags in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.

Sprouts improve in quality and grow best during cool or even lightly frosty weather. Brussels sprouts require a long growing period, though newer hybrids have greatly reduced this requirement. In all but the most northern states, summers are usually too warm for completely satisfactory production from spring plantings. Plants set out in late spring to early summer grow satisfactorily and mature high-quality sprouts.

Current research suggests Brussels sprouts and other vegetables in cruciferous group contain nitrogen compounds called indoles, which are thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers. The indoles contained in Brussels sprouts stimulate the liver, which in turn breaks down the hormone. Since it is a good source of folate can protect against lung cancer also.

Fresh Brussels sprouts, properly cooked, are deliciously delicate in flavour. Brussels sprouts are best eaten lightly cooked. Over cooking may leach indoles into the cooking water and reduces the effectiveness of many vitamins.

Nutritional value (1/2 cup cooked)

Calories 30 kcal, Protein 2 grams, Carbohydrates 7 grams, Dietary Fibre 2 grams, Potassium 247 mg, Vitamin C 48 mg, Folate 47 mcg, Vitamin A 561 IU

Selection and storage

Select firm, young, tender green firm sprouts with tightly packed leaves and no patches of yellow. Examine heads carefully to make sure they are free from insects. Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. If they are old and loosely packed they will have an unpleasant sulphurous smell and when cooked will be spongy and taste bitter. Wash thoroughly sort into small, medium and large sizes.

Balanced Brussels sprouts can be freezed up to one year at zero degrees or below. Their only potential draw back is that like the cabbage they may produce unpleasant intestinal wind. Like cabbage, Brussels sprouts can be cooked. Stir-fry Brussels sprouts with little oil and onion and ginger and green chillies tastes great.

Source: Ms Mumtaz Khalid Ismail
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