Christmas health and the hidden health benefits in your Christmas dinner

The Good Life Letter

Friday 16th December 2011

  • Christmas health wagon might be easier to stay on than you thought!
  • The side dish which might just save your life
  • Four big reasons to stock up on a humble brassica this Christmas

Listen up because I’ve got some breaking news on Brussels sprouts - how a helping could lead to super Christmas health!

In fact, once you read what I’ve found out you might well be going back for seconds since the humble Brussels sprout we all love to hate might just be the most powerful super food of them all.

You know how I love nothing more than eating fresh seasonal foods well the Brussels sprouts is in full glory at the moment right in the middle of its productive, nutritional and palate pleasing season.

[You see, good food at the right time of year is where value for money and pure health is to be found.]

For those of you who lust after these mini cabbages, or the many of you who eat them because your mum told you they were good for you, I have some great news this year.

Just take a look at this…

Our native crop is going to be more plentiful and of better quality than we have enjoyed for a very long time.

It appears that the impact of the warmer, wetter autumn has delivered a bumper crop of succulent buds.

Last year the poor growers couldn’t get out into the frozen crop to harvest them, whereas this year they are doing do in their T-shirts and having a BBQ afterwards!

I do like a nice sprout or two with my roast dinner at this time of year, and enjoy a good bubble and squeak made with the leftovers even more.

Knowing that they are cheap, tasty and nutritious just makes the whole experience even better.

But why are they so good for us?

Brussels sprouts are budding with health benefits

This humble little vegetable is actually a tightly packed leaf bud for the plant; a growing point that the plant loads with a whole bunch of good stuff to allow the leaf to grow and develop as quickly as possible when it is needed.

The mother plant knows how important a good show of rich green leaves are in ensuring its survival so it invests heavily in its buds.

Of course we come along and nip these sprouts off and so we gain all of the benefit of that high value store of energy and vitamins...

Kind of makes you feel a bit guilty doesn’t it!

However, the plant has been bred to produce many more of these buds than it needs so we’re actually helping to prune it, so don’t be too upset about getting stuck in!

Don’t pass that dish ‘til you read these little perks…

What we get as a result is just unbelievable...

-         Vitamin C; you may not be aware but raw Brussels are one of the richest sources of this essential vitamin we can get.

In fact a standard 4 ounce portion will give you over 100% of your minimum recommended daily intake.

As a water soluble compound we aren’t able to store vitamin C and it is lost in our urine, so we need to keep our levels up on a daily basis to improve our defences against disease (especially colds and flu), keep our tissues healthy and protects cell walls.

The trick is to prepare your sprouts in such a way that we don’t lose all of that goodness.

Dear Sarah Kennedy in her Radio 2 morning show used to tell us to get the sprouts on a steady boil in April in order to be ready for Christmas Day – but any over cooking actually destroys the vitamins in them.

You are better off steaming them and keeping them ‘al dente’ to lock in the goodness.

-         Potassium; the vital mineral needed by the body for the kidneys to do their thing properly, as well as allowing muscles to contract and regulating our heartbeat.

Deficiency of this compound is relatively common, even if there are other sources in the diet, such as potatoes and bananas.

This is because the body also needs magnesium to be present at the same time to facilitate potassium uptake... and guess what Brussels are a good source of that too.

-         Fibre; as a rich source of dietary fibre sprouts are an ideal way of keeping your digestive system in tip top order.

Now I know the humble sprout is often associated with a bit of flatulence, and in our house the dog gets used to taking the blame for Granny when she visits and has a pile of veg, but this is one of those urban myths.

Foods which are rich in short chain fermentable carbohydrates, like Brussels, can cause an increase in gas production in the gut as it promotes bacterial activity.

But this is true of many things... and in my Granny’s case I am convinced that a glass of water will do it!

The poor old dog just accepts the injustice of it all...

-         Glucosinolates & antioxidants; probably the ace in the hole for healthy virtues.

Because sprouts are rich in these compounds it makes them marvels for the protection of the body from cancer; especially breast, colon and prostate.

These happen to be the most common types so are well worth building up your resistance to.

And this is just the start! Brussels sprouts are also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A and folic acid, each of which is linked to major health boosts.

Who would have thought that the side dish that’s often so commonly ridiculed could be so powerful acting as an overall health remedy to keep us well?

If preparing and cooking sprouts leaves you cold, then you need a bit of help putting them together as a highly nutritious taste sensation, and you’ll find that [help right here.]

Even if they don’t float your boat, make sure you pop a few of the little blighters on your plate to ensure you’re not cutting yourself short of natural wholesome goodness, after all it is tradition!

Yours, as always






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