Nutrition Notes: Spice up your sprouts

Eve Kalinik hails a much maligned Christmas vegetable with nutritional content that really packs a punch


Nutrition Notes: Spice up your sprouts

Love them or loathe them, no Christmas lunch is the same without the iconic Brussels sprout.

Most of us have grown up knowing these little dynamos are good for us, but why exactly is that? Neat and green, like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale, these buds are top of the class when it comes to nutritional content. An excellent source of vitamin C, K, many of the B vitamins, minerals such as manganese and copper and a good plant-based source of iron, they’re more than just a simple accompaniment.

They’re also a unique source of sulforaphane, a type of phytonutrient that studies have shown to have anti-cancer properties.

Calming and cleansing

This same chemical compound – as well as other substances such as indole-3-carbinol –also helps to support detoxification pathways, which is ideal over the festive period when we may be inclined to indulge in more refined foods and alcohol. These compounds, along with vitamin K and good levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids, means sprouts help with anti-inflammatory processes, too. And there’s research to support their cardiovascular benefits and cholesterol lowering-ability to boot. They’re also cheap, plentiful and grow well in our frost-prone climate.

The best way to max your sprouts is by steaming or lightly frying to retain more of their nutritional profile, but also to reduce the effect of glucosinolate sinigrin – the sulphur-containing compound associated with their strong smell and taste.

Try to buy organically where you can – British-farmed sprouts on stalks are readily available at this time of year and you will notice the difference in flavour as well as maintaining more nutrients.

How to enjoy sprouts

  • A classic combination of chestnuts and sliced onion gives them a lift. Lightly stir-fry in organic butter. I like to add cumin seeds, too.
  • Make them into a slaw – try my Brussels sprout and fennel slaw with coconut ‘bacon’ recipe that you can have with leftover turkey, other cold meats or grilled halloumi
  • Shredded with kale and cabbage, lightly steamed. Dress with good olive oil and lightly crush some walnuts and mix together.
  • Add lightly steamed sprouts to a roast of parsnips and thyme sprigs. Crumble goat’s cheese through when still warm.

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Photograph: iStock

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