Collard greens are members of the leafy green cruciferous family of vegetables, of the botanical name Brassica oleracea in the Acephala group. Their deep, slightly bitter flavor is reminiscent of spinach and kale, to which they are closely related.
They are the most favored greens among people living in Southern American countries, where you can try numerous traditional dishes in which this vegetable is used abundantly.
Although collard greens are native to the Mediterranean area, they are now grown all over the world. Their crisp foliage of rich green color grows in an upright direction around a thick stalk, forming the rosette shape. The plant reaches the height of 4 feet.
There are several varieties of collard greens, depending on the climate and soil of the region. Regardless of their sort, collard greens offer remarkable health benefits, which is why they should find a regular place on our daily plates.
What health provisions will you obtain by consuming collard greens?
1. Collard greens are an extremely powerful ally in the battle against cancerous growths on different organs, like on the ovaries, prostate, breast, cervix, colon, lungs and the oral cavity. This scientifically proven ability of collard greens is due to their rich content of phyto-nutrients or natural compounds that inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in the body and lead to their self-destruction. Two of these components are especially potent – they are called di-indolyl-methane and sulforaphane.
2. The rich content of folates in collard greens ensures the proper intro-uterine development of the baby’s neural tube, preventing different malformations. The folates have an important function in the DNA synthesis, which is why it is important to consume foods rich in them.
3. Collard greens provide more than half of the necessary daily levels of vitamin C. This vitamin boosts our body’s immune system and destroys the harmful effects of the free radicals with its anti-oxidant properties.
4. They are full of dietary fiber, which helps our body control the harmful cholesterol levels, cares for the gastrointestinal tract and aids in maintaining healthy weight.
5. We know that if our immune system is weakened, we become susceptible to all kinds of diseases and infections caused by different pathogenic organisms. You will significantly boost your body’s defense mechanisms by consuming collard greens on a regular basis. Apart from the vitamin C, the phyto-nutrient Di-indolyl- methane has been found to act as a powerful immune booster and natural killer of viruses and bacteria. Another essential anti-cancer and immune-boosting component found in collard greens is called glutathione. It is vital in helping the liver cleanse itself and detoxify our system.
6. The carotenoid compounds zea-xanthin,crypto-xanthin and lutein protect the health of our eyes. Collard greens abound in these nutrients, as well as in vitamin A, which is essential for keeping our skin and mucus membranes healthy.
7. Collard greens simply burst with vitamin K. 100 grams provide the remarkable 370 % of the recommended daily value. You may wonder why this vitamin is so important. It plays an important role in creating and building our bone mass. It is also very important for Alzheimer’s patients since it prevents further damage of the neurons in the brain. Vitamin K also enables proper blood clotting, prevents diabetes and heart disease.
One of the leading vitamin K experts, Dr.Cees Vermeer, has found that the majority of people receive adequate amounts of vitamin K for proper blood clotting from their diet, but that this amount is not enough to prevent other important health issues. This is another big reason why collard greens should be on our daily plates much more frequently.
8. Collard greens are rich in B-complex vitamins, which perform vital roles in our body. One of their primary functions is to transform the food we eat into energy, keeping us active and strong throughout the day. They also participate in making new cells and defend the immune system, promote the good fats in our body, maintain the health of our skin, slow down the aging process and take care of our nervous system.
Nutrition facts of collard greens in more details
One cup of cooked collard greens contains:
- 49 calories
- 1 gram of fat
- 30 milligrams sodium
- 9 grams carbohydrate
- 5 grams dietary fiber
- 4 grams protein
- 1 gram sugar
- 15,416 international units vitamin A (308 percent DV)
- 836 micrograms vitamin K (1,045 percent DV)
- 35 milligrams vitamin C (58 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams vitamin B6(12 percent DV)
- 7 milligrams vitamin E(8 percent DV)
- 177 micrograms folate(44 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams pantothenic acid (4 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams riboflavin(12 percent DV)
- milligrams niacin(5 percent DV)
- milligrams thiamine(5 percent DV)
What are the best ways to consume collard greens?
All their parts are edible, but you can easily discard tough bits with the help of a paring knife. Smaller leaves tend to be softer and sweeter in taste than the overly mature ones. It is best to chop the leaves into smaller pieces to enable prompt and easy cooking.
You can also utilize them in the fresh form, by juicing the leaves and mixing them with different fruits, other vegetables and herbs in healthy smoothies.
If you still prefer them cooked, the recommended method is steaming them shortly, to avoid losing the heat-sensitive precious nutrients.
Collard greens add a distinct rich note to various meat and fish dishes, as well as to salads and slaws.
You can use them in wraps and burritos, cutting away the end of the stem and filling them with your favorite content.
All the parts of collard greens have a wonderful taste when they are pickled: the leaves end up having a texture similar to that of sauerkraut, and the stems are delicious and crunchy.
They can be added to stir-fried dishes and soups, a few minutes before the dish is done. You will preserve the vital nutrients in this way.
If you have not begun incorporating this vegetable in your recipes, do not hesitate to do so. You will make a great contribution to your overall health.
Some safety issues
You may want to be careful with collard greens if you have thyroid problems since consuming them raw can cause swelling of this organ. People who suffer from kidney stones should also avoid eating them in big amounts since they contain oxalates.
Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.
USDA National Nutrient Database.
Unversity of Illinois Extension