Dec 19, 2017

Brussel sprouts are misunderstood!

There is often no middle ground when it comes to a brussels sprout. They are well and truly in the Marmite camp; people either love them or hate them.  The crazy thing is that most people claiming not to like them have either never tried them, have never had them cooked properly or simply have a mental block because of the name.  The truth is, this famous (or infamous) vegetable holds the key to unlocking so much nutritional value that it should be a staple on everyone’s plate.

Originating in Brussels (believe it or not!), brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, all of whom have exceptional health benefits. These tiny green power balls are commonly known as mini cabbages and certainly pack their punch when it comes to their nutritional value.  They are particularly low in calories, offering only 56 calories per cup cooked, yet super high in vitamins, minerals and fibre.  They are especially rich in vitamin K, which works wonders for blood clotting and bone health, as well as vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that helps to promote iron absorption. 

They are renowned for being a low-carb vegetable too and this is where their positive relationship with diabetes begins.  If you have type 2 diabetes, low-carb vegetables are a clever way to fill up without raising your blood sugar levels – or piling the pounds on to your waistline.  They are also a great source of anti-inflammatory properties as a result of their vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids content.  Internal inflammation is thought to be a main player in the development of type 2 diabetes, so something to combat this can only be a positive and even better when it’s a natural anti-inflammatory available from your local supermarket.

The anti-inflammatory wins also contribute towards a happy heart and strong cardiovascular health because internal inflammation can have a damaging effect on blood vessels.  When we then add the high fibre benefits, a sprout is not only effective in regulating blood sugar levels, but also in reducing and achieving healthy cholesterol levels.  And, as the connection between a person with diabetes and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a well-documented one, this lifts the significance of the humble brussels sprout to another level. 

If only we could stop there.  The nutritious content of a brussels sprout is never-ending as we move on to the antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid.  This is found in brussels sprouts and has been shown to not only lower glucose levels, but increase insulin sensitivity too.  So it is true, increasing consumption of brussels, and other cruciferous vegetables for that matter, can reduce the risk of many health conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. 

And it is with this nugget of knowledge in hand that brussels sprouts are slowly starting to grow the fan base they deserve.  Who wouldn’t want to try a vegetable with so many positives; especially if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  But if you are still unsure about the mighty brussels, your list of low-carb, non-starchy vegetables that are packed with nutrients can also include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Red cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

And with Christmas just around the corner, we’d like to add this warning: do not overcook your brussels sprouts.  Anything longer than five minutes in the making and you can rob them of all nutritional value.  And worse still, an over-boiled brussel sprout will begin to fill the room with the unpleasant sulphur-like odour associated with overcooked cruciferous vegetables.  The healthiest option is to eat brussels sprouts raw, flavoured with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt to enhance their flavor.  The next best thing is to cut them into quarters, let them breathe for 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and then steam them for 5 minutes.  They are great served with smoked bacon, a honey and mustard dressing or simply a squeeze of lemon.  Either way, and whatever takes your fancy, a brussels sprout has certainly earnt its place in a diabetes meal plan.

If you are at risk from type 2 diabetes and would like to know a little more about the foods that could benefit you, then register for a free account at today where you can also view hints and tips on energy-boosting recipes and exercise routines… great for at home or in the workplace.

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