Health Benefits Of Collard Greens
Collard greens, also known as tree cabbage, were first cultivated in prehistoric times and are considered to be one of the oldest vegetables in the cabbage family. They grow well in warm climates but are also grown in cooler regions of the world. Collard greens are highly nutritious due to their large stores of vitamins and minerals and are therefore beneficial in preventing many ailments.
The various health benefits of collard greens are as follows:
- Greens supply substantial amounts of calcium to the body. Like the calcium in dairy products, the calcium content of collard greens is also easily absorbed. Calcium is important for good bone health and hence collard greens are beneficial for people who are at a risk for osteoporosis and bone-related problems.
- Collard greens and most other greens are excellent sources of the nutrient, beta-carotene.
This nutrient is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays an important role in protecting against cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, heart disease and cancer. It also strengthens the immune system. Greens contain carotenoids which are powerful anti-cancer agents. There is a greater quantity of beta-carotene found in the outer leaves of collard greens.
- Collard greens belong to the cruciferous family and research has shown that people who consume cruciferous vegetables are at a lower risk of cancer.
- Leafy greens contain vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant, magnesium which is beneficial for cardiovascular and bone health and B vitamins which provide energy to the body.
- Folate, found in collard greens, aids in the production of red blood cells and also assists in proper nerve functioning. It helps to lower the levels of homocysteine in the blood and thus protects against dementia. It also prevents bone fractures in individuals with osteoporosis.
- Collard greens are rich in phytonutrients such as lutein and lipoic acid. Lutein is beneficial for healthy vision and protects against eye diseases. Lipoic acid aids in the regeneration of vitamins C and E in the body. It may also help in regulating blood glucose since it is involved in energy production.
- It is advisable to include dark and leafy greens such as collard greens in your daily intake of vegetables. Since they are low in calories, they also help in weight loss.
Nutrition Facts About Collard Greens
Collard greens contain nutrients such as vitamins, calcium and fiber. A half cup serving of collard greens contains 150 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A, 30 percent of vitamin C, 15 percent of calcium and 3grams of fiber. 100 grams of cooked collard greens contains about 46 calories. Collard greens also contain nutrients such as sulforaphane which are known to have valuable anti-cancer properties. Recent studies have shown that collard greens may also contain substances which stimulate anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity of the immune system.
- Collard greens are a leafy, dark green vegetable which belongs to the same family of vegetables that includes cabbage and kale.
- They are composed of loose leaves and a short stem which grows to about two feet in height.
- The leaves of collard greens are bluish-green in color and have a smooth, veined surface.
- Collard greens have a slightly bitter taste. Younger, smaller leaves have a milder flavor.
- Collard greens are harvested during the cold months, but are also available during the rest of the year.
- The leaves and the stalks of collard greens are edible.
- The leaves cook faster when chopped into smaller pieces.
- It is advisable to avoid over-cooking collard greens since they may lose some nutrients such as vitamin C and folate.
Buying And Storing:
- Always choose fresh, crisp collard greens which are not damaged or bruised. Smaller leaves are tenderer and less bitter. You can store collard greens in the refrigerator for later use. Place them in a plastic bag and make holes in it so that they remain crisp.
- At the time of cooking, wash the leaves properly under running water. Also remove the tough stems and any wilted leaves. Blanch the greens for a few minutes in order to reduce the bitterness and then cook with herbs and spices of your choice. It is best to steam collard greens since it enables the leaves to retain their nutrients. Cooking the greens without the lid prevents the leaves from turning dull. The water used to boil collard greens can be used in soups and stews.
Traditional collard green dishes include pork ingredients. In order to retain the nutritional value of the greens, it is advisable to use pork sparingly. People who take blood thinning medications should not vary their usual intake of greens. Collard greens contain vitamin K and if the intake of this vitamin changes, the medication may not be as effective.