Skip to Content

Are fried Brussel sprouts healthy?

Brussels sprouts are a nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many ways. Fried Brussels sprouts have become a popular appetizer or side dish in many restaurants. But some people wonder if deep frying Brussels sprouts negates their nutritional benefits. Here’s a comprehensive look at the nutrition, benefits, and concerns of fried Brussels sprouts.

Are Brussels sprouts healthy?

Yes, Brussels sprouts are a very healthy vegetable. They are low in calories but packed with nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in Brussels sprouts include:

  • Fiber – A 1/2 cup serving contains 2 grams of fiber. This helps regulate digestion.
  • Vitamin C – 1/2 cup provides over 80% of the RDI for vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports the immune system.
  • Vitamin K – Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K which is important for bone health and blood clotting.
  • Folate – 1/2 cup contains over 15% of the RDI for folate, a B vitamin that helps make red blood cells.
  • Potassium – Brussels sprouts provide 9% of the RDI for potassium which supports heart health and muscle function.
  • Antioxidants – Brussels sprouts contain antioxidants like kaempferol which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

In addition to these nutrients, Brussels sprouts provide small amounts of iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins A, B6, and E. Overall, they are one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables.

Do they lose nutritional value when fried?

Frying Brussels sprouts can reduce some of their nutritional value, but they still retain many important nutrients. Here’s a comparison of the nutrients in 1/2 cup of raw vs fried Brussels sprouts:

Nutrient Raw Fried
Calories 28 65
Fat 0.3 g 3.8 g
Fiber 2 g 2 g
Vitamin C 81 mg 71 mg
Vitamin K 102 mcg 87 mcg
Folate 47 mcg 44 mcg
Potassium 230 mg 218 mg

Frying reduces the vitamin C content by about 13% and vitamin K by 15%. However, fried Brussels sprouts retain the majority of their vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. The largest change is the increased calories and fat absorbed from frying oil.

What type of oil is best for frying?

The type of oil used for frying makes a big difference in the nutrition and health effects of fried Brussels sprouts. Some things to consider when choosing an oil for frying:

  • Smoke point – The oil should have a high smoke point above 400°F so it can withstand frying temperatures without burning.
  • Stability – Oils like avocado, grapeseed and rice bran oil are less prone to oxidation at high heat.
  • Fat composition – Oils higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthier than those high in saturated fat.

The best oils for deep frying Brussels sprouts include:

  • Rice bran oil – High smoke point and stability with a good fat composition.
  • Avocado oil – Made mostly of monounsaturated fats, it has a very high smoke point.
  • Peanut oil – Good stability and a high smoke point with a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Grapeseed oil – Neutral taste and one of the most stable oils for frying.

Coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils are not recommended for frying due to being higher in saturated fat. Canola or vegetable oil are okay options but may have more omega-6 than ideal.

Are the fried sprouts soaked in oil?

Properly fried Brussels sprouts should be crispy on the outside but not completely soaked with oil on the inside. To achieve this:

  • Pat sprouts dry thoroughly before frying to reduce splattering.
  • Fry at 350-375°F oil temperature so the exterior browns before the interior overcooks.
  • Fry in small batches to avoid overcrowding which lowers oil temp.
  • Allow excess oil to drain off on a cooling rack or paper towels.

Frying in too little oil, overcrowding, or cooking at too low of a temperature can cause sprouts to absorb more oil and become greasy. Following proper technique ensures sprouts reach an optimal crispy texture without being oil-logged.

Do they contain trans fats when fried?

Frying Brussels sprouts does not create trans fats which are an unhealthy type of fat associated with heart disease and diabetes. Trans fats form when liquid oils are partially hydrogenated to create a solid fat. When frying sprouts, you simply heat up and use the oil in its normal liquid form.

That said, reusing cooking oil multiple times can cause the formation of trans fats. For the lowest chance of trans fats, it’s recommended to:

  • Use fresh oil each time you fry foods.
  • Avoid reusing oil more than a couple uses.
  • Filter out food debris after each use.
  • Store oil in a cool dark place like the pantry.

As long as you take steps to minimize oil degradation, trans fats should not be a concern when enjoying fried Brussels sprouts prepared in fresh oil.

Do they contain acrylamide when fried?

Acrylamide is a potentially harmful compound that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking like frying, roasting, grilling, or baking. It happens through a reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid in the food.

Brussels sprouts do contain the precursors needed for acrylamide formation. However, studies have found acrylamide levels in fried Brussels sprouts are quite low compared to fried potato products.

Tips to minimize acrylamide formation when frying Brussels sprouts:

  • Cook until golden brown, not dark brown or burnt.
  • Cut sprouts to larger uniform sizes to reduce overcooking smaller pieces.
  • Rinse sprouts in water before frying to remove excess sugars.
  • Soak sprouts in salt water first to limit sugar reactions.

Following proper frying methods and avoiding overcooking can help reduce acrylamide levels in fried Brussels sprouts.

Do they lose fiber when fried?

The fiber content of Brussels sprouts remains relatively unchanged when they are fried. A 1/2 cup of raw Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber while a 1/2 cup of fried Brussels sprouts still provides 2 grams.

This is good news as the fiber found in Brussels sprouts has many benefits including:

  • Improving digestion and gut health
  • Reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol
  • Controlling blood sugar levels
  • Increasing feelings of fullness

Since the sprout’s cell walls remain intact during frying, most of the fiber content stays preserved. So enjoy fried Brussels sprouts as a crispy way to get all that beneficial fiber.

Do they lose antioxidants when fried?

Brussels sprouts contain antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin K, and the carotenoid kaempferol. Studies show kaempferol decreases up to 28% when sprouts are fried compared to raw. Vitamins C and K see smaller losses around 10-15%.

Though some antioxidants degrade from heat exposure, Brussels sprouts maintain a good antioxidant capacity even after frying. For maximum antioxidants, consume fried Brussels sprouts immediately while they’re fresh and hot.

Ways to boost antioxidants in fried Brussels sprouts

  • Use antioxidant-rich oils like olive or avocado oil for frying.
  • Season with antioxidant spices like turmeric, paprika, or ginger.
  • Garnish with chopped pecans which provide antioxidant vitamin E.
  • Drizzle with a sauce made of antioxidant-rich ingredients like balsamic vinegar, cherry juice, or pomegranate arils.

Do fried Brussels sprouts raise cholesterol levels?

On their own, fried Brussels sprouts are unlikely to raise cholesterol levels. In fact, some research suggests Brussels sprouts may lower cholesterol due to their fiber content.

However, the oil used for frying introduces some key factors that can impact cholesterol:

  • Amount of saturated fat – Oils higher in saturated fat like coconut oil may raise LDL “bad” cholesterol when consumed in excess.
  • Trans fats – Repeatedly reusing cooking oils can produce trans fats which boost LDL.
  • Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio – Vegetable oils often have high amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats.

To help avoid negative impacts on cholesterol, fry sprouts in fresh oils low in saturated fat like avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil. Limit portion sizes since the oils still contribute calories and fat.

Do they cause inflammation when fried?

Frying produces oxidation and glycation end-products that may cause low-grade inflammation in the body when consumed regularly. But Brussels sprouts themselves are an anti-inflammatory food.

Research shows the kaempferol in Brussels sprouts acts as a potent anti-inflammatory compound by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines.

So while the high heat of frying generates some pro-inflammatory compounds, the vegetables themselves supply anti-inflammatory substances to help counteract those effects.

Tips to reduce inflammation from fried Brussels sprouts

  • Use monounsaturated fat oils like olive and avocado oil which have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Avoid overcooking sprouts which increases oxidative damage.
  • Season with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, rosemary, or garlic.

Can they be part of a healthy diet?

Yes, fried Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed as part of an overall healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Some tips:

  • Eat fried Brussels sprouts as a side, not a main course. Use small portion sizes like 1/2 cup.
  • Balance them with antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
  • Fry sprouts infrequently, saving them for special occasions rather than regular meals.
  • When eating out, request food be cooked in healthy oils. Opt for steamed or roasted Brussels sprouts when possible.

Prioritizing a diet focused on whole, minimally processed foods ensures the occasional fried food doesn’t make up a major part of your overall nutrition.


Fried Brussels sprouts retain most of their important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Using fresh, high-quality oils for frying minimizes negative health effects. Nutrition profile aside, enjoying Brussels sprouts in a crispy fried preparation enhances their flavor and texture. In moderation alongside an overall healthy diet, fried Brussels sprouts can absolutely be part of a nutritious eating pattern.