The health benefits of Brussels sprouts

Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, Brussels sprouts are a nutritious choice at Christmas. Discover delicious, healthy ways to cook this seasonal veg.

A plate of Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are a traditional part of Christmas dinner – and many people enjoy them throughout the colder months. Read on to discover why they're so good for you...

What are Brussels sprouts and when are they in season?

Brussels sprouts are small green edible buds, which look like mini cabbages, measuring around 2.5cm-4cm in diameter, and they are native to Belgium, around the city of Brussels – hence, the name. They belong to the brassica family, along with broccoli, kale and cabbage, and are typically in season over winter, but you may start to see them as early as October and they last all the way through until March.

Nutritional profile of Brussels sprouts

While Brussels sprouts are not to everyone’s taste, they are low in calories and high in nutrients. Eight cooked Brussels sprouts provide just 70 calories, 5.9g carbohydrates, 2.2g fat and 4.8g protein. They are also high in fibre, which is important for keeping the digestive system healthy.

When it comes to micronutrients, Brussels sprouts are packed with different vitamins and minerals, including iron for making red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body; manganese, involved in many chemical reactions, such as breaking down the food we eat; and phosphorus, needed to help build strong bones and teeth.

Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts

They also contain vitamin A which helps to look after the health of our skin and eyes, and all of the B vitamins, especially folic acid which helps the body to form healthy red blood cells and is required in greater amounts during pregnancy.

In addition, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K, with just eight cooked sprouts providing over double the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and helping wounds to heal properly, and there is some evidence it is involved in keeping our bones healthy, too. The same portion will also provide 125% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake, helping support the normal function of the immune system. It's also essential for the development and maintenance of our connective tissues.

How many Brussels sprouts count towards your 5-a-day?

A portion of 80g, equivalent to four Brussels sprouts, counts as one of your five-a-day.

Check our printable infographic to find out what portions of fruit and veg count towards your 5-a-day.

Does the way you cook sprouts affect their nutritional value?

Some of the nutrients do decrease as a result of cooking but it is minimal, and they still hold significant nutritional value once cooked.

Healthy Brussels sprouts recipes

Chilli-charred Brussels sprouts
Sprouts with sesame & spring onions
Mashed parsnip & sprout colcannon
Sprouts with sticky shallots
Chicken, kale & sprout stir-fry
Toasted sesame sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon & chestnuts

Enjoyed this? Now read...

The health benefits of chestnuts
The health benefits of cinnamon
The health benefits of salmon


This page was published on 9th November 2018.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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