Collard greens: What you should know

Collard greens belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables. They are rich in nutrients that can help you eat a balanced diet.

Bok choy, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, rutabaga, and turnips are all part of the cruciferous family. Cruciferous vegetables are nutrient-dense despite being low in calories.

Benefits

Collard greens
Collard greens are high in nutrients.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables tends to lower the risk of a number of lifestyle-related illnesses.

A high consumption of plant foods, such as collard greens, tends to reduce the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease.

Bone health

Vitamin K deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Vitamin K acts as a bone matrix protein modifier, increases calcium absorption, and can minimize calcium excretion in the urine.

770 micrograms of vitamin K are present in one cup of boiled collard greens.

According to the United States Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020, a woman aged 19 to 30 should consume 90 mcg of vitamin K per day, while a man of the same age should consume 120 mcg.

This amount of vitamin K can be found in a cup of collard greens many times over.

Cancer

According to research, people who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables have a lower chance of developing cancers including upper digestive tract cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and kidney cancer.

Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.

Lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers, as well as melanoma, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer, can benefit from these compounds at various stages of development.

Researchers released the findings of a nearly 3,000-person survey in 2017. They were searching for any potential connections between the intake of cruciferous vegetables and the incidence of breast cancer.

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially in women who have not yet reached menopause, according to the findings. Cooking methods can affect the amount of glucosinolates in some cruciferous vegetables, according to the researchers.

Whether this is true of collard greens or not was unclear from this study, as most people do not eat collard greens raw.

Collard greens and other green vegetables with high chlorophyll levels have been shown to help block the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines. These substances are generated when grilling foods at a high temperature.

Diabetes and the regulation of the liver

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should consume 22.4 to 28 grams of fiber per day, depending on their age, and men should consume 28 to 33.6 grams per day.

According to the findings of a 2014 study, a high fiber intake may reduce inflammation and glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes.

It may assist people with type 2 diabetes in achieving healthy blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.

Nearly 8 grams of fiber are contained in one cup of boiled collard greens.

Collard greens also contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant.

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been shown in studies to reduce glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress changes in people with diabetes. It can also assist in the regeneration of liver tissue.

Researchers have also discovered that ALA can help people with diabetes control their peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

However, whether ALA can be used as a long-term treatment is still uncertain. In addition, intravenous ALA has been used in research. Oral supplements can not give the same advantages.

Excessively high doses of ALA tend to have the same harmful effects as too little ALA. Although “normal” levels can help to prevent oxidative stress, excessive amounts can cause cell damage.

Collard greens intake enhanced liver function in rats with high blood pressure, according to studies.

Digestion

Collard greens are high in fiber as well as water. These aid in the prevention of constipation, the promotion of regularity, and the maintenance of a healthy digestive system.

Healthy skin and hair

Collard greens contain a lot of vitamin A. Vitamin A is required for the production of sebum, which keeps hair moisturized.

All bodily tissues, including skin and hair, require vitamin A to grow. It also benefits the immune system and the eyes, as well as ensuring the integrity of the body’s organs.

Vitamin C helps the body build and maintain collagen levels, which give skin and hair structure.

A woman needs 75 mg of vitamin C per day, while a man requires 90 mg. Nearly 35 mg of vitamin C can be found in a cup of boiled collard greens.

Anemia, a common cause of hair loss, is prevented by iron. The body’s ability to use energy efficiently can be harmed by a lack of iron in the diet. Iron is present in collard greens, spinach, lentils, tuna, and eggs.

Adults need 8 mg of iron a day, while women in their reproductive years need 18 mg. 2.5 milligrams of iron are found in one cup of boiled collard greens.

Sleep and mood

Choline, an essential neurotransmitter, is present in collard greens. Choline assists in the processes of mood, sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory.

Choline also assists in the maintenance of cellular membrane structure, nerve impulse transmission, fat absorption, and the reduction of chronic inflammation.

Folate, which is also found in choline, can help with depression by preventing the buildup of homocysteine in the body.

Homocysteine levels were found to be elevated in people with bipolar disorder and depression induced by alcohol abuse.

In some people, consuming folate may help reduce the risk of developing depressive symptoms.

Nutrition

One cup of boiled collard greens, drained and without added salt, contains:

  • 63 calories
  • 5.15 g (g) of protein
  • 1.37 g of fat
  • 10.73 g of carbohydrate, including 7.6 g of fiber and less than 1 g of sugar
  • 268 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 2.15 mg of iron
  • 40 mg of magnesium
  • 61 mg of phosphorus
  • 222 mg of potassium
  • 28 mg of sodium
  • 0.44 mg of zinc
  • 34.6 mg of vitamin C
  • 30 mcg of folate
  • 722 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A (RAE)
  • 1.67 mg of vitamin E
  • 772.5 mcg of vitamin K

Collard greens are a good source of iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium, as well as an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.

Thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and choline are also present.

Dietary tips

Cook collard greens

The leaves of collard greens should be firm and deep green. Smaller leaves will be tenderer and have a milder flavor.

Collard greens can be kept in the refrigerator for a long time.

Collard greens can be steamed for 10 minutes or less to retain their nutrients.

Peppers, chopped onions, herbs, and spices are used to season them.

You can use collard greens:

  • raw in salads or on sandwiches or wraps
  • braised, boiled, or sautéed
  • in soups and casseroles

Another option is to sauté fresh garlic and onions until soft in extra-virgin olive oil, then add collard greens and continue to sauté until tender.

Overcooking or frying collard greens in bacon fat or lard can result in a strong and bitter sulfur taste.

Adding black-eyed peas and brown rice to a southern favorite makes it healthier.

A handful of collard greens can be added to your favorite smoothie. This adds extra nutrients without significantly altering the flavor.

Collard green chips

You can make collard-green chips like this:

  • Remove the ribs from the collard greens.
  • Toss the leaves in extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 30 minutes until they are crisp.
  • Sprinkle lightly with a choice or a combination of cumin, curry powder, chili powder, roasted red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.

Risks

People who take blood thinners like Coumadin or warfarin should not abruptly increase or decrease their intake of vitamin K-rich foods, as vitamin K is important for blood clotting.

The overall diet, not a specific food item, is the most important factor in maintaining good health and avoiding disease. Collard greens should be part of a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sources

  • Appendix 7. Nutritional goals for age-sex groups based on dietary reference intakes and dietary guidelines recommendations. (2015). Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020
    (LINK)
  • Bartkoski, S., & Day, M. (2016, May 1). Alpha-lipoic acid for treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy [Abstract]. American Family Physician, 93(9), 786
    (LINK)
  • Basic report: 11162, collards, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. (2018, April)
    (LINK)
  • Bernaud, F. S. R., Beretta, M. V., do Nascimiento, C., Escobar, F., Gross, J. L., Azevedao, M. J., & Rodrigues, T. C. (2014, May 29). Fiber intake and inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Diabetoloty & Metabolic Syndrome, 2014, 6, 66
    (LINK)
  • Bosetti, C., Filomeno, M., Riso, P., Polesel, J., Levi, F., Talamini, R., … La Vecchia, C. (2012, August 1). Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case–control studies. Annals of Oncology, 23(8) 1, 2198–2203 Retrieved from 
    (LINK)
  • de Vogel, Jonker-Termont, D.S.M.L., van Lieshout, E.M.M., Katan, M.B., & van der Meer, R. (2004, October 13). Green vegetables, red meat and colon cancer: chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon [Abstract]. Carcinogenesis
    (LINK)
  • Johnson, M., Pace, R. D., Dawkins, N. L., & Willian, K. R. (2013, August 22). Diets containing traditional and novel green leafy vegetables improve liver fatty acid profiles of spontaneously hypertensive rats. Lipids in Health and Disease
    (LINK)
  • Lin, T., Zirpoli, G. R., McCann, S. E., Moysich, K. B., Ambrosone, C. B., & Tang, L. (2017, July 18). Trends in cruciferous vegetable consumption and associations with breast cancer risk: A case-control study. Current Developments in Nutrition, 1(8), e000448
    (LINK)
  • Manchali, S., Murthy, K.N.C., & Patil, B.S. (2012, January). Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables [abstract]. Journal of Functional Foods
    (LINK)
  • Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, March 2). Vitamin A: Fact sheet for health professionals
    (LINK)
  • Why you should eat your collard greens (LINK)
  • Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, March 2). Vitamin C: Fact sheet for health professionals
    (LINK)
  • Office of dietary supplements. (2018, March 2). Vitamin K: Fact sheet for health professionals
    (LINK)
  • Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, March 2). Choline: Fact sheet for health professionals
    (LINK)
  • Oliva, F., Coppola, M., Mondola, R., Ascheri, D., Cuniberti, F., Nibbio, G., & Picci, R. L. (2017). Blood homocysteine concentration and mood disorders with mixed features among patients with alcohol use disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 17, 181
    (LINK)
  • Post, R. E., Mainous, A. G., King, D. E., & Simpson, K. E. (2012, February). Dietary fiber for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 25(1), 16–23
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  • Vigil, M., Berkson, B.M., & Garcia, A.P. (2014, January). Adverse effects of high doses of intravenous alpha lipoic acid on liver mitochondria. Global Advances in Health and Medicine
    (LINK)

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