Are Brussels Sprouts Good For Pregnancy? Benefits and Safety

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Although many love to hate them, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of extra vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.

Brussel sprouts are a great source of vitamin C and vitamin K and have other nutritional benefits, which make them good for pregnant women (and everyone else!) 

Here, you’ll learn about safety considerations and how to enjoy Brussel sprouts in the best, healthiest ways during pregnancy. 

Why Brussels Sprouts Are Good for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a time when many women want to increase their nutrient intake, and Brussels sprouts are a great choice. Brussel sprouts are low in calories but loaded with vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of Brussel sprouts contains 36 calories (source: Nutrition Data). 

A serving of this size contains 103% of your vitamin C requirements per day (source: Nutrition Data). Vitamin C has been linked with a lower risk of pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction and maternal anemia (source: Cochrane).

One study found that women in countries where hospitalizations for anemia and upper/lower respiratory tract infections during pregnancy reduced when given vitamin C supplements (source: The Pan African Medical Journal).

100 grams of Brussel sprouts also contains 175% of your daily vitamin K requirements (source: Nutrition Data). Vitamin K deficiency has been linked with hemorrhages, especially in newborns. Beyond blood clotting, vitamin K has been linked with the formation of protein in the liver and bone development during pregnancy (source: NHS).

Brussel sprouts have a moderate amount of Vitamin A. There is 15% of the recommended daily amount in 100 grams (source: Nutrition Data).

In pregnancy, vitamin A is associated with bone development, how reproductive organs function, strengthening the immune system, protecting the skin, and is connected with the development and maintenance of epithelial tissue as well as the development of normal teeth and hair (source: Nutrients). 

The same percentage of folate can be found in a 100 gram serving of Brussel sprouts (source: Nutrition Data). Folate is integral during pregnancy to help to maintain normal tissue growth and to maintain cell function.

It has also been connected with protecting against preterm birth, and fetal structural anomalies like congenital heart defects (source: Obstetrics & Gynecology). 

A serving of this size will also provide 2.6 grams of fiber, which is 10% of the recommended daily amount (source: Nutrition Data). With constipation common in pregnancy, fiber is great for tackling this naturally.

pile of fresh brussels sprouts

Are Brussels Sprouts Always Safe to Eat When Pregnant?

Brussel sprouts are generally safe during pregnancy. However, as always, good food hygiene is important. 

As Brussel sprouts grow in soil, there is a risk of toxoplasmosis if they are not washed properly. Toxoplasmosis is rare but the toxoplasma gondii bacteria cause complications such as miscarriage and make mother and baby very sick (source: CDC). 

To stay safe, cut away any damaged or bruised bits. Peel any yellow or old leaves. Make sure to rinse the Brussel sprouts under running water for at least 30 seconds. Learn more in our guide on washing fruit and vegetables

Many women are concerned about raw Brussel sprouts during pregnancy because other sprouts such as bean sprouts are considered unsafe. The good news is that this “rule” doesn’t apply to Brussel sprouts!

The danger with sprouts is that bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Staph aureus, can enter the sprout seeds they sprout and cannot be cleaned off – but they are safe if cooked to 165°F/75°C. 

To read more about the dangers of these types of sprouts, check out our article here.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw Brussels Sprouts?

As long as Brussel sprouts are fresh and have been cleaned properly they should be safe raw. However, Brussel sprouts can cause gas and bloating if consumed raw.

If you’re already prone to gas and cramping, it might be best to cook Brussel sprouts. As the main safety issue is bacteria on the outside, you don’t need to worry if they’re undercooked inside. 

The bigger concern with raw Brussel sprouts in salads and coleslaw is if there are other unsafe ingredients or poor hygiene standards. Generally, premade salads should be approached with caution. For more on this, check out our guide to eating salad when you’re pregnant.

roasted brussels sprouts on a white plate

Healthiest Way to Eat Brussels Sprouts When You’re Pregnant

Before serving Brussel sprouts, make sure to remove the old outer leaves, which are usually yellow, and then clean them well. There should be no soil left on the Brussels sprouts.

Here are some safe healthy ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts:

Steamed Brussels Sprouts – Brussel sprouts can be steamed in a steamer inside a large pot of water brought to a boil for 6 to 8 minutes. Toss halfway through and serve once bright green and tender. They can be enjoyed seasoned with lemon and garlic on their own or served alongside a roast dinner or salmon and quinoa salad.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts – My personal favorite! Brussel sprouts can be roasted in a 400F (204C) oven. First mix them in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper and then roast them on a sheet pan for 35 to 40 minutes.  Roasted brussel sprouts can make an interesting spaghetti, accompany a roast dinner or be put on a flatbread. I like to eat them as they are, dressed with sprinkled feta cheese.

Brussels Sprouts in a salad – Brussel sprout salad can be steamed or roasted. They are sometimes raw, but be sure to wash them well in that case. They can be shaved into a homemade slaw salad, diced into caesar salad (but check the dressing) or as part of a butternut squash salad. 

I hope you found this article helpful, and discovered new ways to safely enjoy Brussels sprouts while you’re expecting – and not just at Christmas or Thanksgiving, either!