Brussels sprouts are LOADED with vitamins and minerals. The nutrition breakdown for a cup of cooked, plain brussels sprouts includes:
- Calories: 70
- Protein: 5.5 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 14.5 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
- Folate: 21% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 11% of the DV
- Thiamin: 17% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 129% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 238% of the DV
- Copper: 13% of the DV
- Iron: 13% of the DV
- Potassium: 13% of the DV
Some of these nutrients can be kinda difficult to get in a plant-based diet — like vitamin B6 and iron. And you’ll get a whopping amount of vitamin C and vitamin K — 129 percent of the DV and 238 percent of the DV (respectively) for just 1 cup!
We’ll take our multivitamin halved, tossed in oil, and roasted, thanks.
2. Low in calories
Brussels sprouts are also naturally low in calories, with a cup clocking in at just 70 calories. (Just note you’ll up the calorie count once you add oil!)
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain you’re weight, rounding out a meal with a heaping helping of brussels sprouts is an excellent way to add a LOT of food for just a little bit of calories. Plus the fiber will help you stay fuller and more satisfied.
3. Good for lower carb diets
And did we mention they’re low in carbs too? Like most Brassica veggies (think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), brussels sprouts are fairly low in carbs.
A cup offers about 14 grams of total carbs, but just 8 grams of net carbs since it also contains 6 grams of fiber. Good news, if you’re following a low carb or keto diet!
4. Full of antioxidants
Brussels sprouts are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, and sulfur-based compounds.
And, we know, the word “antioxidant” has become a bit of a buzzword. We almost expect to see it slapped on the food label every time we pick up a healthy-ish food product.
But antioxidants do play a really important role. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are compounds that can build up in your cells over time and cause damage (known as oxidative stress) when they reach high enough levels. These ROS are introduced through our natural biological processes — so a small amount of them are healthy and necessary! But free radicals from foods, drinks, polluted air, and household products may also contribute to their formation.
These ROS may be a factor in premature aging and a number of health problems, as they can cause cells to die before their time. However, antioxidants (get it? AntiOXidants?) can help to neutralize ROS and reverse oxidative stress.
Just one of many reasons to love these little pocket-sized cabbages.
Brussels sprouts are also a great source of fiber, with a cup (cooked) containing 6 grams.
As you may have heard, fiber helps you poop. Bless you, fiber!
However, the benefits of fiber are way more extensive than that. Fiber serves as a food source for the healthy bacteria that live in your large intestine. When these bacteria digest fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids that can help optimize your blood sugar levels, immune function, hunger hormones, and even your brain.
6. May have neuroprotective properties
Kaempferol — one of the key antioxidant compounds in brussels sprouts — may help protect your brain.
In a 2013 lab study, researchers found that rat nerve cells given kaempferol extracted from brussels sprouts for 4 weeks had significantly lower levels of oxidative stress. Researchers also noted boosted protection from amyloid beta peptide toxicity (which is thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease).
Keep in mind, though, that this was a lab study on animal cells and no actual brussels sprouts were eaten. So we don’t know for sure how these effects might play out in a person who just enjoys a good serving of brussels sprouts.
7. May help reduce cancer risk
Brussels sprouts may have some cancer-protective properties. But say it with us: BRUSSELS SPROUTS WILL NOT CURE CANCER.
The antioxidants in brussels sprouts can generally help keep your cells functioning in an optimal way. But an old test-tube study also found brussels sprout extracts may help protect your DNA from damage caused by carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. This might help prevent damaged or cancerous cells from replicating.
These test-tube studies offer an amazing area of opportunity for future research (and a great excuse to eat all the brussels sprouts), but the science isn’t 10/10 proven.
8. May boost your immune health
Brussels sprouts are absolutely loaded with vitamin C, providing over a day’s worth in just 1 cup.
In addition to being an antioxidant, research shows vitamin C plays a key role in immune health in a few different ways. It helps support healthy skin, which of course is a major physical barrier to disease-causing pathogens.
Vitamin C is also essentially a “power-up” for immune cells, helping them to more effectively target, attack, and eliminate cells or organisms that they’ve identified as harmful.
Additionally, high doses of vitamin C may also help to prevent and treat respiratory infections. It’s thought that under these extremely stressful conditions, the body’s vitamin C needs may actually increase.
9. Good source of plant-based omega-3s
If you can’t bear to choke down any more flax seeds, adding some brussels sprouts may help you get enough omega-3s in a much tastier way. (We are (o)mega pumped about this! 😉 )
A cup contains 0.16 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, the key omega-3 fat that our bodies use, which is approximately 10 percent of our daily omega-3 needs.
10. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Brussels sprouts may also offer some anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is an immune response that’s totally normal and healthy when illness or injury occur. It actually draws additional immune cells to the site so that the threat can be neutralized and healing can start ASAP. However, inflammation can go a little haywire sometimes and stick around for longer than it needs to, or cause a more widespread, inflammatory process.
This type of chronic, systemic inflammation is associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
However, anti-inflammatory agents — like the powerful antioxidants in brussels sprouts — *might* help to decrease levels of inflammation in your body and promote more balance.
11. Good for your eyes
Brussels sprouts are really good for your peepers. They contain a decent amount of beta-carotene, an antioxidant pigment that the body can convert to vitamin A (which is important for vision). Brussels sprouts also contain excellent-for-your-eyes carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the primary pigments found in your eye, and researchers have found that lutein and zeaxanthin in food may help to support eye health by protecting against blue light and oxidative damage.