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Surprising Side Effects of Eating Brussels Sprouts, Says Dietitian

Are baby cabbages all they are cracked up to be?

Aside from their smell, Brussels sprouts have a handful of side effects—and they might not all be positive.

Of course, any time we can get extra veggies in our diet, the better! However, not everyone reacts the same. Some people may even have a negative experience after eating high-fiber veggies like Brussels sprouts.

My favorite way to cook them up with lots of flavors and roasted on a sheet pan similar to these recipes. They get slightly crispy and caramelized, which is totally different from the mushy steamed sprouts we all remember from childhood.

So, what gives? Keep reading for the surprising side effects of this crunchy veggie.

They may worsen tummy troubles.

Brussels sprouts

Cruciferous veggies are particularly hard to digest if you already have trouble with proper digestion. Folks with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, are often steered away from foods with certain fibers that can produce gas and bloating during digestion.

These fibers, also known as FODMAPs, are high in the cruciferous veggie family of broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

If you have IBS, you might still be able to consume these vegetables. I would recommend a trial-and-error approach here to see how your body responds.

You'll have regular GI movement.

cooked brussels sprouts

Conversely, if you don't notice any tummy trouble after eating Brussels sprouts, then you may actually experience the opposite effect: better digestion!

Brussels sprouts contain four grams of fiber per cup. This adds more bulk to our digestive tract and may help move things along faster as a result.

When adding a new source of fiber, be sure to drink plenty of water to help aid in the movement of your GI tract.

They may improve your blood pressure.

holding colander of brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of potassium. Potassium has many functions, including managing heart health and blood pressure.

The DASH diet, a proven program designed to lower blood pressure, emphasizes fruits and vegetables that are high in potassium to protect your cardiovascular system.

One of the main mechanisms for lowering blood pressure involves the way potassium counter-balances sodium in the body. Thus, since sodium can raise blood pressure in some cases, an emphasis on potassium-rich foods can help offset the potential rise.

They may help manage your cholesterol.

pan roasted brussels sprouts

High cholesterol can be improved with diet changes, but it might look a little different than you think!

Cholesterol is metabolized through the liver after digestion. Foods that are high in fiber can actually improve absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract before they even make it to the bloodstream circulation.

Choosing high-fiber foods for your meals can help lower the amount of cholesterol that gets absorbed and excrete it all together.

They may boost your immune health.

roasted brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a sneaky source of vitamin C in our diet. One cup of raw Brussels sprouts—when cooked turns into about a half cup—packs more than our daily recommended dose of vitamin C!

Vitamin C helps fight sickness, improves inflammation, and contributes to skin health.

Incorporate shaved Brussels sprouts in your salads, or roast them on a sheet pan as a side dish for an immune system boost this summer!

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline