Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation as one of the less enjoyable elements of a Christmas dinner – but if you skip them, you may be missing out on some amazing health benefits.
Not only can they aid eye health, but they are also packed with vitamins and minerals that can keep you in tip-top condition - even if you overindulge in other treats during the holidays.
Sharon Copeland, an optician at Feel Good Contacts, is a particular fan of the much-maligned vegetable - and has given five reasons why we should all make sure they are on our plates this festive season.
They are rich in fibre
"Fibre is an essential part of our diet. Not only does it aid regular bowel movements, it can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol," Sharon explained. "A diet rich in fibre can help to prevent diseases such as diabetes, bowel cancer and heart disease."
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Sprouts are packed with vitamins and nutrients
Brussels sprouts contain vitamin K, which helps the blood clot, and vitamin C, which aids the growth, development and repair of body tissues. There's also lots of vitamin A - great for excellent vision and eye health - folic acid, Manganese, lutein and zeaxanthin.
They contain omega-3 fatty acids
"Brussels sprouts are a great way of getting omega 3 fatty acids for those who choose not to eat oily fish," the eye expert said. "Not only do omega-3 fatty acids support brain health in battling anxiety and depression, but they also aid eye health by producing tears, which can help those with dry eye."
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
They support bone health
Sharon states that the vitamin K in Brussels sprouts is particularly important to postmenopausal women as it helps to keep bones healthy by increasing bone density and reducing the risk of bone injury.
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They may have potential cancer-fighting properties
"Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants and compounds which are said to protect against cancer-causing agents," she shared. "They contain a compound called isothiocyanates and research suggests that these compounds could have anti-cancer effects. This includes restricting the growth of tumours. Nevertheless, there is no concrete evidence of this."
So, there you have it – if you're tempted to give sprouts a miss this year, think again – and enjoy a healthy, as well as a merry, Christmas.