Gardening

Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. Gemmifera)

Considered one of the most popular and nutritious side dishes around, Brussels sprouts are a vegetable belonging to the family of the most striking and nutritious crucifers that can be tasted.

These small and characteristic cabbages are part of multiple recipes as a side or ingredient that distinguish any meal.

Properties

The properties of this food include all the nutritional benefits that crucifers offer to the body’s dietary balance.

They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals with diuretic properties and they provide few calories. All this makes them ideal for diets with an interest in reducing excess body weight. In addition and thanks to the antioxidants it contains, its anticancer properties are recognized.

Origin of Brussels sprouts

As the name suggests, Brussels sprouts are native to Belgium. Its consumption is very popular in the Netherlands and other regions of Europe, although its entry into the diet has not been so impressive despite being a food that provides many benefits.

There are studies that consider that by Roman times there were already crops of a more primitive variety of Brussels sprouts. However, the vegetable as it is known today dates back to the 18th century. It was not until the 19th century that the Brussels sprout became quite popular, becoming a highly consumed food, both by Belgians and by the inhabitants of the Netherlands.

The cultivation and production of this vegetable tolerates cold climates very well, thus becoming an ingredient in many typical dishes of the winter season. The name of Brussels sprouts was given by Charles Linnaeus, an important Swedish naturalist, scientist and botanist.

Brussels sprouts are also known by the name of Brussels cabbage, with descriptions of this food dating back to 1821. The common name by which they were known was Choux de Bruxelles.

Of course, the name Brussels refers to the capital of Belgium where its cultivation and consumption are quite widespread.

characteristics

Brussels sprouts are sprouts that originally appear on the stem of the plant and you must wait until they are green in color and have a firm texture to harvest. They also exist in red and/ or purple varieties.

They have a sweet taste with a bitter background. In the central part they are of a slight yellow color.

The plant has a stem that reaches up to a meter and is covered with leaves. In the axils of the leaves is where the cabbages are formed, that is, in the axillary buds. The flowers appear during the second year of growth of the plant and are yellow.

This has a stem that ranges from 0.5 to 2 meters and at the tip they have a rosette of leaves, oval or rounded. Cabbages are between two and four centimeters in diameter. A single plant can produce up to 32 cabbages per crop, this plant being biennial. In the first year the cabbages are formed in the axillary buds and during the second year it blooms.

Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous family like broccoli and cauliflower. This family of foods has excellent nutritional and medicinal properties. Their nutritional level helps to maintain a healthy body and they are essential in the diet.

One hundred grams of Brussels sprouts contain 90 grams of water, which makes them quite diuretic. In addition, they contain carbohydrates, vegetable protein, 1.5% healthy fats and fiber. Which is why they are highly digestive. Every 100 grams provide 45 calories.

Within their nutritional value they contain vitamins C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B6. That is, niacin, pyridoxine, thiamine, folic acid, and carotenes and among the minerals it contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine and selenium. It also contains glucosilonates which are sulfur compounds.

Benefits

The different properties of Brussels sprouts make their consumption highly beneficial. Due to its vitamin C and iron content, it prevents and improves cases of iron deficiency anemia. Insoluble fiber provides a feeling of fullness, aids digestion and prevents constipation.

It is an ideal food to keep the immune system in good condition. Like other foods belonging to the cruciferous family, it helps prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer and especially breast, ovarian, bladder, stomach and colon cancer. The composition of Brussels sprouts helps eliminate toxins and waste from the body.

Thanks to its iodine content, it is a highly recommended product for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Cabbages in general are excellent for relieving physical and mental fatigue, being very useful in people who suffer from insomnia.

Beta-carotene contributes to the health of vision. All the compounds in cabbages are essential in the formation and maintenance of red and white blood cells, bones and collagen.

Its consumption is essential in developing organisms such as those of children and women in the gestation stage. It is advisable to eat the food in the season in which they are harvested and in the case of cabbages, these are the perfect food for winter, being able to choose them fresh without bruises or parasites.

The nutrients of the cabbages disappear to a large extent in the cooking, for this reason they must be cooked at the last moment without removing the outer green leaves and washed without soaking them. They should be eaten cooked and the ideal is to incorporate crucifers into the diet two or three times a week.

Cultivation and care

At the time of cultivating Brussels sprouts, a hybrid variety should preferably be chosen since its production is larger and regular, and can be cultivated without problems like other crucifers in urban gardens.

The harvest is quite acceptable since a single plant is very productive. The plant adapts to relatively rich soils, being plants that resist winter very well. If you are going to plant seeds, the ideal is to do it during the months of March to May. First, the seedbed is made at the fourth or sixth week, they can be transplanted when they are more than ten centimeters high.

When caring for Brussels sprouts, it is important to take into account that the most common diseases are Poma lingam Tod, cabbage spot virus, turnip mosaic virus, etc. These can be produced by low temperatures, lack of boron or by letting the fruits overripe. They are identified because there is swelling on the stems, rubbery bags and loosely packed pellets.

The Brussels sprout is a perfect food, being its very viable cultivation in urban gardens even if there is not much space.

The incorporation of crucifers in the diet is practically imperative and its versatility and flavor as part of the ingredients of the kitchen is versatile and of excellent flavor.

For these reasons, its consumption is becoming very popular in different European countries and part of America.

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