Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable. Collards are a staple in the diets of southerners in the United States. In the south, these hardy greens will grow well into the fall season. They are mostly enjoyed steamed, braised, or stewed. Collard greens can also be pickled. Collards are nutritional powerhouses. In this article, we will explore collard greens health benefits, nutritional value. We will also be looking at a couple of recipes, to see how we can take advantage of collar greens health benefits.
Collard Greens Health Benefits
We don’t hear too much about this green vegetable, compared to the attention that kale and broccoli receive for their health benefits. But collard greens health benefits are equally as impressive. Let’s review some of the benefits.
One cup of collards contains approximately 7 grams of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. This is essential for proper digestion. Collards also contain good amounts of glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps repair the lining of the stomach and intestines. It also keeps Helicobacter-pylori bacteria at bay. An H-pylori infection is a leading cause of stomach ulcers.
Another of collards greens health benefits is the high amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients they contain. Eating collard greens has been shown to assist the body in lowering cholesterol levels, due to the involvement of the liver in the digestion of the greens. By lowering cholesterol levels, collard greens have the potential to improve overall cardiovascular health.
Collards contain phytonutrients, such as sulforaphane and di-indolyl-methane, which have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth. Eating these greens can lower your risk of developing colon, ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers.
The anti-inflammatory properties inherent in vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, both found in collard greens, help to regulate the body’s response to inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause extreme stress on our bodies and lead to cancer and other conditions, such as bowel disease and heart disease.
For many reasons, one of collard greens health benefits is their ability to support the natural detoxifying process our body performs. The antioxidants in collards are necessary for the removal of toxins. The sulfur-containing compounds in the greens help to activate enzymes also necessary for adequate removal of toxins. Lastly, the abundant fiber in collard greens helps to move toxic waste through our bowels.
Collard Greens Nutritional Value
Besides the numerous health benefits collards offer, these greens are packed with nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Collards do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fat. They are also extremely low in calories. Collard greens are an adequate source of dietary fiber, protein, and non-starchy carbohydrates.
Folates: The leaves contain 32% of the RDA of folates. Folates are an important factor in DNA synthesis. This is essential for proper fetal development.
B Vitamins: The greens are a good source of B vitamins, especially niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and riboflavin. These vitamins help to regulate the nervous and digestive systems, support normal growth, and aid the body in breaking down protein.
Vitamin A: The abundance of vitamin A helps protect us from certain cancers, such as lung cancer. A is excellent for maintaining healthy eyesight, youthful skin, and healthy mucus membranes. It is a good source of carotenoid antioxidants.
Vitamin C: Raw collards are very rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects us from the damaging effects of free radicals and common viruses.
Manganese: Collards are an excellent source of manganese. This mineral is necessary for the absorption of calcium, required for bone health. It is also beneficial in the formation of connective tissue, thyroid function, and regulation of blood sugar.
Calcium: Like many dark leafy greens, collards are rich in calcium. Calcium aids in the growth and maintenance of our bones and teeth. Some believe calcium is also important in preventing obesity and maybe even certain types of cancer.
Vitamin K: This vitamin is available in high amounts, making it one of the best of collard greens health benefits. Vitamin K has an important role in increasing bone mass. It also seems to have a positive effect on the effect of Alzheimer’s.
Collard Greens Uses
Now that we have reviewed collard greens health benefits and nutritional value, let’s take a look at how to prepare and use this amazing vegetable. While the leaves are traditionally cooked and eaten as a side dish, you can also make good use of the fibrous stems that run up the center of the leaves. Additionally, the water the greens are prepared in shouldn’t go to waste.
Braised or Stewed
One of the best and easiest ways to prepare collard greens is to boil and slow braise the leaves in water with seasoning. You can serve braised collards as a main dish if you are vegetarian. Naturally, you can also serve it in the traditional way, as a side dish. The greatest advantage to braising is that you can maintain most of the nutrients collard greens contain.
Similar to cabbage, you can use collard leaves to make a pungent kraut. You can use pickled collard greens to replace sauerkraut in many dishes. The beneficial probiotic bacteria that is a by-product of the fermentation is very healthy for your gut. The woody stems can be quick pickled to add to the top of dishes, to spice it up. Pickled collard greens maitain their high fiber content, and provide a nice variation, if you’re growing tired of the same old flavors.
You can use collard greens just like you would kale in a salad. They are truly nutritious eaten raw with a dressing and some other vegetables. Another way to enjoy collard greens health benefits is to juice the raw leaves with a sweet apple. Alternatively, you can add the leaves to a smoothie.
Who knew collard greens were so nutritious? We are used to seeing them piled on the side of plates with lots of heavy comfort foods. And many times, we don’t even notice them. In fact, they are likely the healthiest thing on the plate. Collard greens have not been given the attention they deserve. We should not overlook collard greens health benefits and nutritional value.