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December 10, 2018

Watch out for these bloat-inducing vegetables this holiday season

The human body struggles to digest Brussels sprouts and the like

Prevention Healthy Eating
cruciferous vegetables pexels Magda Ehlers /Pexels


When trying to stick with your healthy eating plan during the holidays, filling up your plate with dishes filled with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and other nutrient-rich vegetables are a common tactic for keeping you away from the indulgent dips and dessert table.

But these seasonal veggies — which fall under the category of cruciferous vegetables — can be a huge source of gas and bloating for many people, according to MindBodyGreen. Yes, you read that correctly: these super-healthy foods can have adverse effects. Gasp!

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale as well as arugula, bok choy, collard greens, radishes, and watercress, among others. They're a great source of important nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and various carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which have been noted for their antioxidant benefits.

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Because cruciferous veggies are generally low in calories but high in fiber, they also may be helpful in staying satisfied and play a role in weight management and supporting stable blood sugar when enjoyed as part of a balanced meal. Phytonutrients found in cruciferous foods have also been shown to reduce inflammation and play a role in cancer prevention, MindBodyGreen reports.

These popular vegetables may be difficult to digest, however, and often lead to gas and bloating, as you may have already noticed. That’s because “cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, or sulfur-containing chemicals. As glucosinolates break down in the intestines, they form other compounds like hydrogen sulfide, which is why gas passed after eating these foods smells like sulfur,” MindBodyGreen explains.

Further, these veggies also contain raffinose, an “oligosaccharide” that humans actually don't have the enzyme to digest. Because of this, cruciferous vegetables don’t get digested in the small intestines, and enter the large intestine undigested — this causes gas and bloating as bacteria in the intestines start to ferment the undigested food, according to Everyday Health.

While a holiday without roasted Brussels is seemingly unholy, it might be worth it to avoid the cruciferous realm if it means not having to blame your dinner table excretions on grandma. But if you’re not willing to budge, there are a few ways around the discomfort. The first being opting for cooked versions of your favorites — a cooked greens salad, instead of raw, for example.

There are also certain foods you could incorporate into a meal to help battle the bloat, and there are plenty of options to help with that. According to Women’s Health, cucumbers, canned pumpkin, bananas and asparagus, among others, are bloat-busting foods.

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