Every January, we post the 31 Days of Wellness, with entries from myself and my good friend, Chuck Garcia. Together, with additional bloggers, we present an outline for the year, to get you started on a path to health and wellness. The simplest way to think of the next 31 days is consider the following points:
1. What are the foods to avoid?
2. What are the new foods to try, and incorporate into your diet?
3. What exercise to I need to participate in?
4. What are the other habits I need to follow that will lead to better health and the prevention of disease? Todays first entry, penned by Chuck Garcia, discussed one of the many “super foods” that we will discuss this month. We enjoy discussing Brussels Sprouts, because they are filled with needed vitamins and minerals. Most of my patients are unfamiliar with them, unaware of how to select to cook them, but with a little guidance, they come to enjoy these little treats, making them part of their weekly vegetable repertoire.
I am a big fan of bacon. By itself or mixed in with something else. Bacon just makes everything taste better. Bacon however is popular (rightfully so) and consumed all the time. One vegetable that is not so popular (what a shame) and should be is Brussels sprouts. Woefully misunderstood (your Mom made you eat it when you were a kid), many people have a bad impression of this great vegetable and refuse to give it a try. When combined with bacon, this is a great addition to any meal. What is the deal on Brussels sprouts and why should you eat it? Consumed since the 13th century, this powerhouse is related to cabbage and kale. Thankfully, it is finally earning some respect. I travel a lot on business and eat out when on the road. I have noticed that this vegetable is making resurgence and appearing on menus more often; especially in steak houses offered as a side. Good thing.
This is a powerhouse of a vegetable. There are many benefits including these:
Antioxidants A host of antioxidant ingredients are found in Brussels sprouts, including Vitamins C, E, and A, as well as the mineral manganese. Furthermore, flavonoid antioxidants like isorhamnetin, quercitin, and kaempferol also serve well to protect against oxidative stress on the body’s cells.
Inflammation Glucobrassicin, a glucosinolate particularly abundant in Brussels sprouts, has been shown to fight inflammation on a genetic level once converted into the molecule indole-3-carbinol, or ITC. Furthermore, one and a half cups of Brussels sprouts contain about 430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (about ⅓ of the daily recommended amount) that are an essential part of our body’s anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. Finally, the wealth of vitamin K found in Brussels sprouts has been shown to effectively regulate our body’s inflammatory responses.
Cancer Prevention Glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts and their detox-activating isothiocyanates are shown to fight against and even prevent various cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Cardiovascular Support Brussels sprouts contain the isothiocyanate sulforaphane made from glucosinolates. This powerful compounds not only triggers anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system but may also prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage. By regulating inflammation within the body, Brussels sprouts can fight against the onset of heart attacks, ischemic heart disease, and arteriosclerosis. Furthermore, the lowered cholesterol mentioned earlier may also lessen the possibility of arterial blockage. How best to eat it: There are multiple ways to eat Brussels sprouts.
In keeping with bacon as its best complement, I recommend taking a recipe out of Rachel Ray’s play book:
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, small spouts left whole, larger spouts halved
- Salt and pepper, to your taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
Directions Brown bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan, 1 turn. Add shallots to the pan and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add Brussels spouts and coat in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook Brussels sprouts 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften, then add broth. Bring broth to a bubble, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Transfer sprouts to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and top with cooked bacon bits. I recommend serving this on the side of any protein source. Fish, steak, chicken, take your pick. Serve it when friends are coming over. Don’t tell them in advance or they are likely to resist. Put it on the plate and watch their reaction. They will be surprised and impressed!
Your feedback is important to all of us. Let us know what you think.