10 Interesting Facts About Brussels Sprouts

A study has found that consuming around 1 and 1/4 cups of Brussels sprouts can help protect DNA in our white blood cells.

Many of us are familiar with the annual tradition of being forced to eat Brussels sprouts since a young age, even though most children and even adults detest them.

But why do we hate them so much?

Is it due to the way they are cooked, or is there a scientific reason behind our dislike for this vegetable?

In this article, we will explore 10 fascinating facts about Brussels sprouts, including energy, genetics, and much more!

The Brussels Sprout Gene

Believe it or not, there is actually a genetic reason why you and your family may love sprouts while your partner and in-laws hate them.

It all comes down to a gene called TAS2R38, which determines whether we can taste the chemical PTC.

This chemical is responsible for the bitterness in taste.

PTC is not usually found in the human diet, but it exists in sprouts and other such foods.

The founder of this gene conducted an experiment in the 1930s to see if people possessed the gene and could identify those who had it or not based on their family relations, proving that it is genetically affected.

The specific gene was not identified until 2003.

Brussels Sprout World Records

There are various world records dedicated to Brussels sprouts, just like anything else in the world these days.

Did you know that in 2008, a Swedish man named Linus Urbanec consumed 31 sprouts in 60 seconds to achieve the stomach-churning record of “the most sprouts consumed in 1 minute”?

In 2013, the sprout played a significant role in making up the “world’s largest Christmas dinner” in the UK town of Redditch, weighing over 21lb (9.5kg) and using 25 sprouts – over 6 recommended servings of sprouts!

Brussels Sprout Production

The annual production of Brussels sprouts in the US stands at a staggering 32,000 tons, with California being the largest producer, followed by Washington and New York.

Europe produces a whopping 82,000 tons in the Netherlands alone, which is the leading nation in the European market.

In 2017, the sprout plants in the UK produced “monster sprouts” due to abnormal temperatures, which were over twice as large, weighing an average of 35g each compared to the normal 15g.

Children in the UK were thrilled with the prospect of having bigger sprouts for lunch, of course.

Unpleasant Taste and Smell

As experienced cooks will tell you, boiling sprouts until they are gray and sodden leaves them with an unpleasant smell, but where does the smell come from?

In simple terms, the unpleasant odor of Brussels sprouts comes from sulfur, specifically from the compound glucosinolate sinigrin. School dinners with sprouts were notorious for having the worst smell. Dave Barry once said that kids feared many things, but Brussels sprouts were the worst. The thought of a giant sprout on the plate was every child’s worst nightmare. In 1992, the heaviest sprout weighed a whopping 18lb 3oz (8.3kg), while the longest sprout plant measured 9’ 3” (2.8 meters) in 2000. Consuming one cup of sprouts provides 195% of vitamin K and 125% of vitamin C. Steaming Brussels sprouts can lower cholesterol levels by causing the fiber parts of sprouts to stick to bile acids, which are then easily excreted. Sprouts can also protect DNA inside white blood cells. Brussels sprouts have a high energy content, with one cup providing 158 kJ of energy. In 2015, school children and scientists in London used 1,000 sprouts to power a Christmas tree. There are countless ways to prepare sprouts, with at least 9,000 different methods for cooking them. Despite not producing as many sprouts as the Dutch, the British consume the most overall, especially during the festive period.

The Origins of Sprouts

What is the story behind the emergence of sprouts?

Just like with most contemporary vegetables and foods, sprouts also have an ancestor.

It is believed that the ancestor of sprouts was a crop cultivated by the Ancient Romans.

Although sprouts are originally from the Mediterranean region, they were grown near Brussels, their namesake city, in the 1200s, after being introduced to Europe in the 5th Century.

Therefore, sprouts have a remarkable set of secret skills, from providing energy during the Christmas season to having substantial nutritional value, making them quite impressive despite being a disliked vegetable by many.


1. What are Brussels sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a type of vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. They look like miniature cabbages and are typically 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.

2. Where did Brussels sprouts originate?

Brussels sprouts were first cultivated in ancient Rome, but they were later popularized in Belgium in the 16th century. Hence, the name “Brussels” sprouts.

3. Are Brussels sprouts healthy?

Yes, Brussels sprouts are incredibly healthy. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins C and K, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that consuming Brussels sprouts regularly can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and improve heart health.

4. How are Brussels sprouts typically prepared?

Brussels sprouts can be prepared in a variety of ways, including roasting, sautéing, grilling, and boiling. They can also be added to salads, stews, and pasta dishes.

5. Why do some people dislike Brussels sprouts?

Some people may dislike Brussels sprouts because they have a strong, bitter flavor. However, this can be mitigated by cooking them properly and pairing them with complementary flavors.

6. What are some fun facts about Brussels sprouts?

Did you know that Brussels sprouts can grow up to 3 feet tall? Or that they were once used as a medicinal plant to treat various ailments? Another fun fact is that Brussels sprouts were once considered a luxury vegetable in the United States, but they are now widely available and affordable.

7. Can Brussels sprouts be frozen?

Yes, Brussels sprouts can be frozen. It’s best to blanch them first by boiling them for a few minutes, then cooling them in ice water before freezing. Frozen Brussels sprouts can be stored for up to 12 months.

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