Having been raised by a physicist who also loved gardening and believed in eating healthy, I love and appreciate the science behind and medicinal properties contained within fresh foods. So if you’ll humor me, here’s your culinary science lesson for the day! This one’s for you, Dad……..
Collard greens are highly nutritious staple green vegetable closely related to kale and cabbage.
Health Benefits of Collard Greens
- Very low in calories (only 30 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. The green leaves contain a good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.
- Rich in sources of phyto-nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
- Excellent source of folates, which are important in DNA synthesis and when given during the peri-conception period can prevent neural tube defects in the baby. Fresh collard leaves are also rich in vitamin-C, a powerful natural anti-oxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections. Excellent source of vitamin-A and carotenoid anti-oxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin, etc. These compounds are scientifically found to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for healthy vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Contains high levels of vitamin-K, provides 426% of recommended daily levels per 100 leaves. Vitamin K has a potential role in the increase of bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone. It also has the beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain. Rich in B-complex groups of minerals such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and riboflavin. Leaves and stems are good in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.
- The cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. In a recent study, steamed collard greens outshined steamed kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage in terms of its ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract. When this bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. It’s worth noting that steamed collards show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw collards.
- The cancer-preventive properties of collard greens may be largely related to 4 specific glucosinolates found in this vegetable: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin. Each of these glucosinolates can be converted into an isothiocyanate (ITC) that helps lower our cancer risk by supporting our detox and anti-inflammatory systems.
It is very important not to overcook collard greens. Like other cruciferous vegetables overcooked collard greens will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooking. To help collard greens to cook more quickly, evenly slice the leaves into 1/2-inch slices and the stems into 1/4-inch pieces. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and steam for 5 minutes.
Internal System Support
• Like other members of the Brassica family, collards may contain goitrogens, which may cause swelling of the thyroid gland. Eating raw collards, therefore, should be avoided in individuals with thyroid dysfunction.
• It should be used sparingly with people suffering from oxalate kidney stones.
• Use sparingly in people taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) like warfarin.