Brussels sprouts arrived in North American in the early 1800s, and they've been appearing on dinner plates ever since. In addition to being low in fat and calories, brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin C, iron, vitamin A and folate. Equally as beneficial, adding brussels sprouts to your diet can help you lower your bad LDL cholesterol levels, which can reduce your overall risk of heart disease.
High LDL Cholesterol
You need some cholesterol for your body to work right, but it's easy to consume far more than is necessary. Two types of cholesterol exist. The good kind -- called HDL -- helps keep your heart healthy, while the dangerous kind -- called LDL -- builds up in your blood. With too much cholesterol in your arteries, plaque can form and stick to your artery walls, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Keep your LDL cholesterol level below 100 milligrams per deciliter to protect the health of your heart.
Eating foods that contain fiber, such as brussels sprouts, can help lower your LDL cholesterol level. Brussels sprouts contain soluble fiber, the variety that is particularly effective at getting rid of LDL cholesterol in your blood. For every 1 or 2 grams of soluble fiber you add to your diet, you can reduce your LDL cholesterol by 1 percent, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension. A 1-cup serving of cooked brussels sprouts provides 4 grams of fiber.
Brussels sprouts contain antioxidants that help reduce damage to your cells. Cellular damage increases your risk of certain health problems such as heart disease and cancer. The antioxidants in brussels sprouts as well as other fruits and vegetables can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Brussels sprouts contain plant sterols, which are powerful antioxidants, as well as vitamins C and E, two additional antioxidants that can help protect your health. Antioxidants can prevent LDL oxidation and atherosclerosis, which contribute to heart disease.
Steam brussels sprouts with your favorite herbs and spices and serve them as a nutritious and tasty side dish that pairs well with grilled meat or roasted chicken. Drizzle olive oil on the sprouts instead of drenching them with butter. Butter contains saturated fat, which contributes to increased LDL cholesterol. Olive oil contains mostly unsaturated fats, which can help lower your cholesterol levels. Shred brussels sprouts into a tossed green salad or use them in place of cabbage in your favorite cole slaw recipe.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Brussels Sprouts, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, With Salt
- MayoClinic.com: High Cholesterol
- American Heart Association: About Cholesterol
- Alabama Cooperative Extension: Food Selections Can Help Lower LDL or "Bad" Cholesterol
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and LDL Cholesterol
- The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods; Michael T. Murray
- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Dietary Antioxidants Inhibit Development of Fatty Streak Lesions in the LDL Receptor–Deficient Mouse
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.