I used to think I hated brussels sprouts. I mean, how many kids do you know who actually like them? Growing up my only thought associated with them was…yuck.
Turns out, there is a reason for this. Children actually have more taste buds and therefore increased sensitivity to bitter flavors. Because brussels sprouts have a bitterness to them, most children avoid them in favor of sweeter, more pleasing flavors. But, as with everything else, tastes change.
I recently reintroduced myself to America’s most hated vegetable: brussels sprouts. You see, a restaurant placed pickled brussels sprouts on a cheese plate I ordered. Faced with the evil vegetable, I decided to conquer my taste buds and throw caution to the wind. Before I knew it, I’d fallen in love with a new food.
Okay, before you get all “no way, brussels sprouts are terrible” on me, just hear me out. The number one reason why I love them is because they have a roasted nutty flavor. Imagine a more flavorful cauliflower. Except green and nutritious and insanely versatile. If you like veggies and also like nuts/nut butters, there is a high probability you’ll also like brussels sprouts.
Now, there is apparently a gene that scientists isolated that explains why some people hate brussels sprouts while others don’t. It’s called the TAS2R38 gene on chromosome 7. This gene codes for a protein that connects to a chemical called PTC (found in brussels sprouts and other bitter foods), which triggers your brain to react to the bitterness. If you have this gene, you will not like brussels sprouts pretty much no matter what. BUT, this is the only allowable excuse.
If you’re not convinced, keep reading.
Brussels sprouts are one of the most nutritious vegetables in existence. A half cup of brussels sprouts contain only 30 calories, yet also have 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and are packed with vitamins and minerals. This also translates into prevention of tangible health problems. Here are a few noteworthy ones:
1.) Lowers Cholesterol
The high fiber content of brussels sprouts lowers cholesterol by binding with bile acids that are created by the breakdown of cholesterol. As the fiber “uses up” these bile acids, the body has to produce more so that it can use them to digest fats. Cholesterol levels are lowered as the liver uses it to create these bile acids. Lower cholesterol is associated with lower risk for heart disease and other chronic issues.
2.) Cancer Prevention
Glucosinolates (a class of organic compounds made of glucose and amino acids) in brussels sprouts and their detox-activating isothiocyanates (aka- “mustard oils”) prevent and fight against certain cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
3.) Protects DNA
Some compounds in brussels sprouts can block the activity of sulphotransferase enzymes that can harm the health and stability of white blood cell DNA. These enzymes can alter DNA by adding sulfate molecules where they don’t belong; doing this can completely change the way DNA folds and codes for proteins. Significant changes in DNA can ultimately lead to cancer.
If you haven’t tried brussels sprouts in a while, I highly recommend you give them a chance. Nothing bad can come from at least trying them, so what are you waiting for?
Here’s a simple recipe I love to get you started.
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the ends off the brussels sprouts and cut each in half. Place the halves in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and transfer sprouts. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sprouts are browned (it’s okay if they look a bit burnt, they’re supposed to).