Christmas is a time for sumptuous feasting on deliciously rich food, which would seem completely over the top at any over time of year.
However, there is one hurdle we must overcome to enjoy the brandy soaked, cinnamon-gravy lagoon which is Christmas dinner.
Yep. I’m talking about the demon dish itself. The much maligned brussels sprout, favourited by only the strangest of festive eaters.
My parents used to warn me how all my Christmas presents would disappear back up the chimney if I didn’t eat all my sprouts, and so I would wolf the foul things down while keeping one anxious eye on my new Work-It-Out Barbie.
Nowadays, I have come to appreciate the sprouts’ distinct, leafy flavours, although this has taken many years of willpower and vats of cranberry sauce.
However, now I finally know my childhood dislike was completely justified: I am clearly just very highly evolved…
Yes, your dislike of the gassy veg could be all down to your genes – and not the ones you loosen after that second helping of Christmas pudding.
Usually, a person has 25 different types of bitter receptors, however there are some more sensitive – or refined as I like to refer to them – folk who have more.
There is a gene which makes you predisposed to pass on the sprouts. TAS2R38 creates a protein which connects with a chemical known as phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), causing a bitter sensation.
[ooyala autoplay=”true” player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ auto=”true” width=”1280″ height=”720″ pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l” code=”Z3NW9lZDE6wVeZVksBsYW0vKLz5JCIp-“]
This chemical reaction causes certain green vegetables – including cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts – taste as bitter as your own life affirming tears after watching It’s A Wonderful Life.
However, this is also present in certain poisonous plants, with the bitter taste sensation offers a yuck-shield against ingesting toxic substances
So it makes perfect sense to steer clear, okay, Mum?
Speaking with UNILAD, Nutrition Scientist, Dr Stacey Lockyer from the British Nutrition Foundation explained:
Brussels sprouts are one of a group of vegetables known as cruciferous vegetables or Brassica which also includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.
Brassica contain high amounts of compounds called glucosinolates which, when metabolised in the body, give them their characteristic sharp or bitter taste.
The specific taste of these vegetables seems to be acceptable to some individuals but very unpleasant to others and while whether we like or dislike certain foods is determined by several factors, some studies have demonstrated that the perception of bitterness of cruciferous vegetables is linked to genetic differences in taste receptors on the tongue.
So really fellow sprout dodgers, we are simply very discerning hunters; steering around that potentially lethal ball of farts to get to the turkey goodness.
Brussel sprouts do not deserve the flack they receive.
— Doom (@SilentDo0m) November 6, 2017
I may be the only one that enjoys Brussel sprouts and that's okay bc more for me
— ~ (@louvsk) November 15, 2017
However, even if you aren’t feeling the sprout, it really is important to think about potential health benefits.
According to Dr Lockyer:
Fruit and vegetables provide us with fibre, which improves gut health and is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer and essential vitamins and minerals.
Evidence suggest that having your 5 A DAY could reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer and obesity, yet data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that on average we aren’t meeting the 5 A DAY recommendation.
It is important to eat plenty of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables every day for health so it is worth trying to branch out and include vegetables you aren’t that keen on in your diet.
Liver, chitterlings or Brussel sprouts.
Which one would you eat if it was the last food on earth and you were starving?
— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) November 15, 2017
Just an FYI, homemade peanut sauce makes brussel sprouts yummy.
— Aaron (@unwoundadmin) November 17, 2017
So yes, it may seem tempting right now to indulge on a selection box diet, interspersed with £6 syrup drenched waffles from the Christmas markets.
However, do make sure to enjoy some leafy winter veggies too, even if this does involve fighting evolution itself.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.