1. They’re in a family
Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages not because they are baby cabbages, but because they’re part of the same family. With cabbages, we eat the head that grows out of the ground. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are buds that grow along the length of a thick, fibrous stalk.
2. They’re named for Belgians
If you’ve ever wondered why they’re called Brussels sprouts, the answer has been right in front of you the whole time: they’re from Brussels, silly. Well, sort of. While early versions of the vegetable are said to date back to ancient Rome, modern-day Brussels sprouts were embraced and widely cultivated in Belgium as early as the 16th century.
3. They’re medicinal
Originally, Brussels sprouts are said to be bred from wild cabbages found in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Chinese medicine, they are prescribed to improve digestive health.
4. They’ve got mad haters
A 2008 survey conducted by Heinz revealed that Brussels sprouts are the most-hated vegetable in America. A similar poll in Britain found the vilified vegetables at the top of the most-hated list there, too. And yet, Brits grow about six times more of the baby cabbages than we do in the U.S.
5. They’re stinky for a reason
So many people hate Brussels sprouts because of the memory of stinky smells emanating from mom’s kitchen way back when. But why do Brussels sprouts smell? Well, first of all, they tend to only get really stinky when overcooked – especially when boiled. The smell is associated with glucosinolate sinigrin, an organic compound that contains sulfur: hence the odor. It also happens to be responsible for the cancer-fighting characteristics of Brussels sprouts.
6. They grow in your own backyard
In the U.S., the majority of commercial Brussels sprout production occurs in California. But if you shop at your local farmer’s market, you know that the buds can be grown just about anywhere – even in the chilliest parts of the country. So, seek out local ones!
7. The stalks are awesome
Brussels sprouts are often cheaper if you buy them on the stalk because of the labor involved with plucking the buds off. They also last significantly longer on the stalk than loose when kept in the fridge. Plus, they look so much cooler that way.
8. Seriously, they’re good for you. Like, really good
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C (way more than an orange, by the way), vitamin K, as well as beta carotene, folic acid, iron, magnesium and fiber. They’re also high in selenium, which is associated with reduced risks of certain cancers, as well as increased male virility.
9. They’re also dangerous
Brussels sprouts can have undesirable side effects for anyone on anticoagulant medication. A man in Scotland was hospitalized last year for eating too many of the cruciferous vegetables, which are high in blood clot-promoting vitamin K, after they counteracted the effects of his medication.
10. More on Brussels sprouts overdoses…
Linus Urbanec of Sweden holds the Guinness World Record for most Brussels sprouts eaten in one minute. That number is 31 and the record was set in 2008.
11. There’s a Brussels sprout “breed” out there for you
Dozens of varieties of Brussels sprouts exist today. They come in all sizes, from marble-sized button buds to golf ball-sized ones. Popular breeds include Bubbles, Prince Marvel and Oliver.
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