Collard greens are a staple of American cuisine and barbecues. These colorful greens belong to the same family as kale, broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy. Collard greens are packed with nutritional and health benefits of plant based diets. They contribute ample amounts of vitamin A, K, B-6, C, calcium, iron, and magnesium, which are all part of a nutritious diet.
The vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber found in collard greens provide significant benefits if plant based diets. Dietary fiber is essential for digestive health whereas vitamins play a key role in boosting the body’s immune system.
Collard greens contain a sufficient amount of vitamin K. According to nutrition facts data by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an ounce of cooked collard greens provide 96% of the daily value of vitamin K. Research suggests that vitamin k may lower the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture. This crucial vitamin improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.
Collard greens are rich in calcium, a key component of bones. The calcium found in these vegetables is highly bioavailable. A study found that collard greens – along with celery, kale, and soybean sprouts – showed the highest calcium bioavailability.
The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against harmful bacteria and viruses. Collard greens are rich in vitamin A which is a great immune booster. Vitamin A stimulates the production of white blood cells and regulates cell growth and division. Without this vitamin, our bodies will not function properly and the immune system will be weakened.
There are many health benefits of plant based diets rich in Vitamin C. This vitamin supports the immune system by aiding in the production of white blood cells. Vitamin C also helps the body neutralize cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body.
A study published in the June 2008 edition of the journal Nutrition Research found that collard greens and kale had the strongest bile acid capacity among the tested vegetables. A high bile acid-binding capacity is indicative of strong cholesterol-lowering potential.
Various studies suggest that eating collard greens lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as the “bad” cholesterol. The high fiber content in collard greens is a benefit of a plant based diet that improves overall heart health by lowering cholesterol.
The liver does important work for the body by clearing toxins and processing substances like alcohol. To better support the liver, consider collard greens for chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a plant molecule found in many leafy greens. It helps detox the liver and cleanse the body of heavy metals and toxins.
Collard greens are packed with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These two are best known for their ability to protect eye health by acting as a sunblock for the retina. A case-control study found that people who took a high carotenoid diet had a 43% lower risk for age-related macular degeneration - a leading cause of blindness in adults. Those who ate collard greens and spinach frequently had a particularly low risk.
Lutein can also help protect the eyes from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and blue light emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones.
Research suggests that people who frequently eat collard greens and other cruciferous vegetables are at a lower risk of developing various types of cancer such as breast, kidney, and colorectal cancer. Cruciferous vegetables differ from other vegetables in that they have sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds may help prevent cancer progress at different development stages.
Research published in 2017 found that consuming cruciferous vegetables such as collard greens may lower the risk of breast cancer especially in women who are yet to reach menopause. However, to preserve the glucosinolates, collard greens should be steamed on low heat.
Among the many benefits of plant based diets is they are full of chlorophyll. High amounts of chlorophyll found in collard greens help to block the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines which are generated when grilling food at high temperatures.
Vitamin A, found in abundance in collard greens, is crucial for the growth of all body tissues, including skin, and hair. It helps in sebum production which keeps the hair moisturized.
Collard greens are rich in vitamin C which is critical for collagen production. Collagen gives structure to skin, hair, and nails. Collards also contain iron which starves off anemia and prevents hair loss.
Another benefit of a plant based diet with collard greens is related to digestion. Collard greens have high fiber and water content both of which help in preventing constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This vegetable is often recommended for those who have trouble going.
Collard greens contain choline, a nutrient that supports various body functions and overall health. Choline helps with mood, sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory functions. It’s also essential for maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, transmission of nerve impulses, and fat absorption.
Folate, which is present in choline, may help reduce the risk of depressive symptoms by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. Homocysteine is usually high in people with bipolar disorder and depression induced by alcohol use.
Collard greens not only make a great sautéed meal but are also good for you. Given the various benefits of plant based diets found in collard greens, it’s advised to keep this vegetable as untarnished as possible. Boiling or steaming in less than 10 minutes will help preserve the nutrients.