Collard greens are a staple on any soul food restaurant menu, or at the Sunday dinner of thousands of people throughout the U.S. The good news is that this time-tested treasure not only tastes good but is very good for you as well.
What are Collard Greens?
A collard green is dark green leafy vegetable that is closely related to cabbage and broccoli. Unlike cabbage or broccoli, the leaves of collard greens are loosely blossomed. Collard greens are bitter to the taste when raw or cooked incorrectly, so you must be careful to season them correctly when you season, and cook them.
Health Benefits of Collard Greens
Unlike broccoli and kale and cabbage, you won’t find many research studies devoted to the specific health benefits of collard greens. However, collard greens are sometimes included in a longer list of cruciferous vegetables that are lumped together and examined for the health benefits they provide. Based on a very small number of studies looking specifically at collard greens, and a larger number of studies looking at cruciferous vegetables as a group (and including collard greens on the list of vegetables studied), cancer prevention appears to be a standout area for collard greens with respect to their health benefits.
This connection between collard greens and cancer prevention should not be surprising since collard greens provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are (1) the body’s detox system, (2) its antioxidant system, and (3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase risk of cancer, and when imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly. Among all types of cancer, prevention of the following cancer types is most closely associated with intake of collard greens: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
What’s more, the thick leaves of collards are packed with cholesterol lowering soluble fiber, immune boosting vitamin c and the cancer fighting properties of sulforaphane and DIM. Sulforaphane is also known to lower blood glucose levels, which makes collard greens a healthy choice for diabetics.
1. The Antioxidant Benefits of Collard Greens
As an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, and a good source of vitamin E, collard greens provide us with 4 core conventional antioxidants. But the antioxidant support provided by collard greens extends far beyond the conventional nutrients.
2. Collard Greens’ Anti-inflammatory Benefits
As an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), collard greens provide us with two hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several of the body’s most widely-used families of anti-inflammatory messaging molecules….