Crazy Brussels Sprouts Facts You Probably Didn't Know

Brussels sprouts have a reputation for being almost universally hated, and for making you fart. But these tiny, edible cabbage figurines are more than just bad vibes and worse gas...they're more interesting than you realize. Here are a few things you didn't know about Brussels sprouts.

There's always an exception

Brussels sprouts are those tiny baby cabbage things that no one likes right? Well yes, except for when they're not. Like one time in Wales in October 1992 when Bernard Lavery managed to set a Guinness World Record by growing a "sprout" weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces—you can bet that was a Christmas to remember.

Where there's smoke, there's fire

It seems the flatulent properties of Brussels sprouts is no new discovery. In fact, as far back as 3000 BC, they were being prescribed in China to treat bowel problems. Which seems a bit counter intuitive, like throwing gas on a fire to put it out—but, you know, you can't really argue with ancient Chinese wisdom.

Don't ruin your dinner

Usually when most people find Brussels sprouts on their plate, they take their time to eat them—it's not like there aren't tastier things to eat first. But some people, like Linus Urbanec from Sweden, are wired differently, and for some reason can't get enough of the little green fart dumplings. In fact, he likes them so much that, in 2008, under the watchful eye of a team from Guinness World Records, he set a record for eating 31 Brussels sprouts in one minute. Mr. Urbanec probably set another world record a few hours later, but not one he'd want to see in the record books.

A long way from home

The Brussels sprout is unsurprisingly named for the Belgian capital city, where it became quite popular in the 16th century. But the sprout's history goes back much further than that. Descended originally from wild cabbages that grew in Afghanistan and Iran, they eventually evolved into the curious miniatures we eat today—so it's not just human immigrants who have a hard time in the west.

Something of a victim

The Brussels sprout isn't the most popular vegetable, and it sure takes some abuse on the dinner plate from those less inclined to give it a chance. But the victimhood of the Brussels sprout doesn't start in the supermarket. Amazingly, the lowly junior cabbage is the favored victim of up to 46 pests and diseases, making it all but impossible to successfully grow them organically in the UK, which could make a good excuse for not wanting to eat them, but then you'd have to go all-organic.

Haters gonna hate

No matter how hard they try, nerds always get a hard time. And despite their many amazing nutritional advantages (the vegetable equivalent of good grades) the Brussels sprout is no different. In fact this culinary hate cliche has topped polls in both the USA and the UK looking for the most hated vegetable. That means the sprout should ditch the cute geek image it's been cultivating forever and just buy that leather jacket it's always wanted.

You're doing it wrong

One of the most common reasons people give for hating Mr. Bruce Sprout is the smell they give off when cooked. Unfortunately that isn't the fault of the sprout any more than your stinky armpits after exercising are yours. Because, like you after work , a sprout only smells bad when it is overcooked—and the chemical which causes the smell, glucosinolate sinigrin, is the same chemical which helps sprouts fight cancer.

The dark side...

Some things can seem too good to be true, and that's definitely the case with sprouts. While they are undoubtedly top of the class when it comes to health benefits, sometimes they don't get along with people taking certain medications. Since sprouts contain a good supply of Vitamin K, which is useful for helping blood to clot, they are not recommended for people on anticoagulants, which do the opposite. This is especially true for those rare creatures among us who are inclined to consume more than the usual token portion at Christmas, such as an unnamed man in Scotland who, after gorging himself on sprouts, ended up in hospital when his medication stopped working.

Now you're pushing it

In 2015, a crazy person climbed a mountain to raise money for an organization called Macmillan Cancer Support. His name was Stuart Kettel, and the mountain he climbed was Mount Snowdon in Wales. Now, Snowdon isn't a particularly challenging climb (unless you want it to be): it has decent paths most of the way, and even a railway that can get you to the top if you're feeling lazy, which must be why Kettel decided to spice things up. To make his challenge a little harder, he made his way to the top while pushing a Brussels sprout...with his nose. It took him four days to reach the summit, in which time he climbed 3,560 ft, wore out 22 Brussels sprouts, and scraped all the skin off his knees.

There's no need to get crossed

If you ever ate Brussels sprouts at home, there's a good chance you've seen little crosses cut into the bottom of each one. Most people assume it is done to speed up cooking, but they would be wrong. The real reason we cut crosses into our sprouts is because of a medieval superstition. It was once believed that leafy vegetables such as sprouts and cabbages were the hiding places of tiny demons, and consuming them would expose you to their evil influence unless you exorcised them with the sign of the cross before cooking—and that's actually not a surprising conclusion if you consider the evil odors Brussels sprouts sometimes inspire.