Broccoli and sprouts are two of the most essential green veggies out there.
Both are packed full of vitamins and minerals that support our general health and let’s not forget how delicious they both taste, either!
Both of these vegetables have some pretty similar health benefits, and they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, making it easy to add them to your diet.
But how exactly do these super greens compare, and which one is better to add to your diet?
Stick with us as we attempt to answer all of these questions and more, in our ultimate guide to brussel sprouts vs. broccoli.
What Are Brussel Sprouts?
Brussel sprouts are probably best known for being that ‘love it or hate it’ vegetable that appears at your dinner table every Christmas or Thanksgiving and causes a bit of a ruckus.
These infamous greens are a member of a group of cabbages called the Gemmifera cultivar, which is grown for its edible buds.
The brussel sprout is also a member of the Brassica oleracea family, which has a number of other famous members, including cabbage, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, and broccoli.
These seasonal veggies have a distinctive flavor, often described as bitter, sweet, and even a little nutty.
They look like mini cabbages, and they grow on thick stems with long, broad leaves.
Brussel sprouts are often paired with foods like chicken, beef, potatoes, fish, pork, other veggies, and cheese.
In fact, if you love brussel sprouts, you’ll know it’s hard to find a food that DOESN’T pair well with the small and mighty veggie.
Brussel Sprouts: Nutrient Profile
Around half a cup of cooked brussel sprouts contains the following nutrients:
- 28 calories
- 5.5 grams of carbs
- 2 grams of protein
- 2 grams of fiber
- 12% of the daily value of folate
- 53% of the daily value of vitamin c
- 91% of the daily value of vitamin k
As you’ve probably noticed, vitamin K is one of the hero ingredients in brussel sprouts.
Sprouts contain an extremely high amount of vitamin K which the body needs for blood clotting, wound healing, and even bone health.
Sprouts are also rich in vitamin C, which is known to help increase iron absorption, boost energy, improve the function of the immune system and assist with tissue repair.
What Is Broccoli?
Broccoli is a type of edible green plant (and believe it or not, a form of cabbage), that belongs to the mustard family.
Broccoli boasts a notoriously large flowering head, which makes this veggie look a little like a mini tree.
Broccoli is native to the Mediterranean, but it’s enjoyed all across the world and celebrated for its impressive health benefits, which we’ll touch on a little later.
Both the stalk and flower buds of broccoli are edible, and it’s said to taste a little grassy, earthy, and slightly bitter.
There are many ways to cook broccoli at home, which makes it one of the most versatile veggies to add to your meals.
Although it’s safe to eat broccoli raw, many enjoy eating it cooked or boiled for the best flavor and texture.
Broccoli is often paired with a variety of other veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, radishes, watercress, brussel sprouts, celery, leeks, and many more.
It can be eaten in a variety of dishes (or on its own), making it one of the easiest vegetables to add to your diet if you’re looking for a well-needed nutrient boost.
Broccoli: Nutrient Profile
Around one cup of raw broccoli contains:
- 35 calories
- 5.6 grams of carbs
- 2.2 grams of fiber
- 2.3 grams of protein
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 91% of the daily value of vitamin c
- 15% of the daily value of folate
- 77% of the daily value of vitamin k
Broccoli also contains trace amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
The Health Benefits Of Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts may be a pretty divisive vegetable, but one thing’s for sure – they’re loaded with nutrients, and great for your mental and physical health.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of eating brussel sprouts:
Could Reduce Inflammation
Although some degree of inflammation is indicative of a healthy immune system, chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Reducing chronic inflammation is essential for a healthy lifestyle, and brussel sprouts may help.
Sprouts contain an extremely high amount of antioxidants which are known to help reduce the presence of free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation.
Antioxidants prevent cell damage in the body, and eating them regularly will help keep your body healthy.
Could Help Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
It’s even thought that brussel sprouts may help maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Sprouts are notoriously high in fiber, which is known to help regular blood sugar levels.
Eating sprouts as part of a healthy, balanced diet could help keep your levels stable.
A permanently high blood sugar level (also known as hyperglycaemia) can cause permanent damage to parts of the body such as the nerves, kidneys, eyes and blood vessels, so maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is essential.
Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Sprouts also contain Omega-3 fatty acids which have big benefits for our health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the cell membranes in our bodies, and they can also help regulate blood clotting and prevent inflammation.
Omega-3 supplements are even used to help treat depression and anxiety, so ensure you’re getting enough of them in your diet!
Other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids can include:
- Chia seeds
The Health Benefits Of Broccoli
Brussel sprouts have some pretty impressive health benefits, and so does broccoli. Here are just a few of the health benefits that come from consuming broccoli regularly:
May Reduce Inflammation
Broccoli is thought to reduce inflammation in the body’s tissue due to its bioactive compounds.
These compounds are thought to work both together and individually to help keep the body healthy, and inflammation.
Kaempferol is one of the most abundant compounds in broccoli, and over the years, studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce inflammation.
However, it should be noted that so far, these studies have only been performed in test tubes and on animals.
More human research is needed to determine exactly how effective broccoli may be at reducing inflammation.
Could Support Heart Health
It’s also thought that broccoli can help support a healthy heart.
Broccoli may help reduce the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood while improving ‘good’ HDL levels in the body, which can support overall heart health and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Can Improve Digestion and Gut Health
Broccoli can also be a great addition to your diet if you need to improve your digestive health.
Your gut needs plenty of fiber and antioxidant-rich foods to keep the gut functioning healthily.
Broccoli is thought to help maintain regular bowel movements, and it may even be able to reduce the levels of inflammation found in the colon and create positive changes in gut bacteria, which can both improve our overall gut health.
May Improve Healthy Brain Function
Broccoli has an impressive nutrient profile, and it’s thought that these nutrients can help support overall brain function and even slow the rate of mental decline.
Several animal and human studies have shown positive signs that regularly consuming green cruciferous vegetables can improve brain health, and even reduce the inflammation associated with brain injuries and strokes.
However, most of this research has only been performed on animals and in test tube studies.
More human research needs to be performed to establish the true benefits of broccoli on human brain function.
Which Is Better: Brussel Sprouts Or Broccoli?
So, which is better, brussel sprouts or broccoli? Well, answering this question isn’t all that easy.
As we can see, brussel sprouts and broccoli both have some pretty impressive health benefits and several of these overlap.
So, to understand this better, we need to take a closer look at these two veggies.
- Protein: Brussel sprouts generally have more protein than broccoli.
- Carbs: The average portion of brussel sprouts contains more carbs than broccoli.
- Antioxidants: Broccoli tends to contain more antioxidants than a portion of brussel sprouts. Broccoli also contains larger amounts of each antioxidant than sprouts.
- Water Content: Both broccoli and brussel sprouts contain roughly the same amount of water.
Sulforaphane And Chlorophyll: Which Vegetable Contains More?
Sulforaphane and chlorophyll are two important compounds found naturally in food, and they’re great for your health.
Generally, broccoli contains more chlorophyll than sprouts. Chlorophyll is rich in antioxidant properties, but it isn’t as powerful as others like vitamin C and E.
The pigment in chlorophyll is thought to help detox the body, improve the immune system, and boost your general energy levels.
In more simple terms, it can also be identified as the distinctive pigment that gives these vegetables their green color.
However, sprouts are thought to contain more sulforaphane than broccoli. Sulforaphane has been associated with various health benefits, but research into its benefits on the human body is limited.
Sulforaphane may protect against cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even help with digestion.
Are There Different Types Of Broccoli?
Another factor that makes answering this question so difficult is the fact that there are several types of broccoli.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common varieties of broccoli below:
- Chinese Broccoli: Chinese broccoli, sometimes called Gai Lan, is a cruciferous vegetable that’s rich in nutrients. You may also hear Chinese broccoli referred to as Chinese kale. Chinese broccoli has broader, longer leaves with crispy, thick stems and a smaller head. The long stems and leaves are the edible parts.
- Romanesco Broccoli: Romanesco broccoli is a type of edible flower bud and a species of the Brassica oleracea family, that also includes broccoli and cauliflower. In terms of flavor, this broccoli can be described as a mix between broccoli and cauliflower, and many use this as a substitute for either.
- Broccoli Raab: Broccoli raab, formally called rapini, is a type of cruciferous green vegetable that has edible leaves, buds, and stems. Although this looks like broccoli (and even has it in the name!)Rapini is actually a part of the turnip family. Rapini has a rather earthy and bitter taste, much like regular broccoli and sprouts.
- Broccolini: Broccolini, also called baby broccoli, is a type of hybrid vegetable that’s similar to broccoli, but it has smaller florets and longer, thinner stalks. Individually, broccolini looks a little like asparagus, but with a thicker head.
How To Select And Store Broccoli
When you’re looking for the best broccoli, it’s best to pick out varieties that have a bright, deep color.
In general, the greener the broccoli the better, and you can be sure you’ll be selecting a high-quality broccoli if you florets and stems both appear to be tight and firm.
If the florets or stems are softer and yellow, it’s a sign your broccoli is not fresh. This means your broccoli won’t last as long, and it’s unlikely to have the best flavor.
When you get your broccoli home, it’s best to store it in a plastic bag and keep it refrigerated.
If your broccoli is damp when you get it home, you can also dry it with damp paper towels, re-wrap it, and store it to ensure the best flavor and texture.
To extend the life of your broccoli, you can also freeze it.
However, if you’re going to freeze your broccoli, we’d recommend blanching it first for 5 minutes on the boil, and then adding it to an ice bath.
You can then place it in a freezer bag and freeze it, where it will keep for about 12 months.
How To Select And Store Sprouts
Want to pick the best sprouts? When you’re shopping for sprouts, you should pick out ones that feel nice and firm when they’re squeezed.
It’s also recommended that you choose sprouts between 1 and 1.5 inches in diameter.
You should also remember to pay close attention to the leaves and choose ones that have a nice, vibrant green.
Avoid sprouts with any notable yellow spots, as these will not be fresh, and may start to taste unpleasant quickly.
You should also choose sprouts that are wrapped tightly inside the bag. Loosely bagged sprouts can retain moisture, which can lead to brown spots.
Want to maximize the freshness of your sprouts? Ensure you’re storing them correctly at home.
When stored correctly and purchased fresh, your sprouts are likely to keep for around a week in the refrigerator.
If you’ve roasted them and then refrigerated them, they may also last for around a week.
Ideally, you should pat your sprouts dry and keep them unwashed until they’re ready to use.
Once dried, move your sprouts into an airtight container rather than a bag to prevent a build-up of moisture, and store them in a crisper drawer.
When stored in an airtight container and kept in the crisper drawer, you can help limit the amount of moisture and oxygen that comes into contact with your sprouts.
You can also blanc your brussel sprouts in water for around four minutes, move them to a bowl of ice water for four minutes, then pat them dry and put them in the freezer on a baking sheet overnight.
You can then place them in an airtight container the next day and freeze them for around six months.
The Bottom Line
Broccoli and sprouts are both healthy, green cruciferous vegetables that can have some pretty big health benefits.
These vegetables have similar nutrient profiles, so they’re both a good choice to add to your regular diet.
Remember to store your broccoli and sprouts correctly to maintain their freshness. Which do you prefer, broccoli or sprouts? Let us know below!