Collards’ unique appearance features dark blue green leaves that are smooth in texture and relatively broad. They lack the frilled edges that are so distinctive to their cousin kale.
Have a very mild, almost smoky flavor
* Excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, and a good source of vitamin E as well as fiber
* Excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA)
* Amazing resource for folates – 350 micrograms of folate in every hundred calories. That’s 50% more than the amount provided by 100 calories’ of broccoli, 100% more than the amount provided by 100 calories’ of Brussels sprouts, 3 times the amount provided by 100 calories’ of cabbage, and over 7 times the amount provided by 100 calories’ of kale.
* Cancer prevention appears to be a standout area for collard greens with respect to their health benefits. They provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are (a) the body’s detox system, (b) its antioxidant system, and (c) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. (1)
* Cancer types most closely associated with intake of collard greens: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer
* Detoxification – phytonutrients available in collard greens, called glucosinolates, which can help activate detoxification enzymes and regulate their activity: glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin
* Antioxidant – broad spectrum of antioxidant support helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells; caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol are among the key antioxidant phytonutrients
* Anti-Inflammatory – 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. Glucobrassicin an anti-inflammatory compound, can actually operate at the genetic level prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
* Cardiovascular health – preliminary evidence in cruciferous vegetables found to lower the risk of health problems including heart attack, ischemic heart disease, and atherosclerosis
* Sulforaphane – triggers anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system and may also be able to help prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage
* Folate is a critical B-vitamin for support of cardiovascular health, including its key role in prevention of homocysteine build-up (called hyperhomocysteinemia).
* Cholesterol-lowering ability – Our liver uses cholesterol as a basic building block to product bile acids. The fiber-related nutrients in this cruciferous vegetable bind together with some of the bile acids in the intestine in such a way that they simply stay inside the intestine and pass out of our body in a bowel movement, rather than getting absorbed along with the fat they have emulsified. Our liver needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing upon our existing supply of cholesterol, and as a result, our cholesterol level drops down.
* Digestive system support – 85% of your Daily Value for fiber from only 200 calories‘ worth of collard greens. Sulforaphane made from a glucosinolate in collard greens (glucoraphanin) helps protect the health of our stomach lining.
* Current and potentially promising research is underway to examine the benefits of collard greens in relationship to our risk of the following inflammation-related conditions: Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis.
Tips for Use:
* STORAGE – Place collard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in a chilled section in the refrigerator case to prevent them from wilting and becoming bitter where they should keep fresh for about three to five days.
* Look for firm, unwilted leaves that are vividly deep green in color with no signs of yellowing or browning. Leaves that are smaller in size will be more tender and have a milder flavor.
* The cholesterol-lowering ability of raw collard greens improves significantly when they are steamed. (2)
Like kale, cauliflower and broccoli, collards are descendents of the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have been consumed as food since prehistoric times and to have originated in Asia Minor. From there it spread into Europe, being introduced by groups of Celtic wanderers around 600 B.C.
Collards have been cultivated since the times of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. While collards may have been introduced into the United States before, the first mention of collard greens dates back to the late 17th century. Collards are an integral food in traditional southern American cuisine.
(1) 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.
(2) In fact, when the cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed collard greens was compared with the cholesterol-lowering ability of the prescription drug cholestyramine (a medication that is taken for the purpose of lowering cholesterol), collard greens bound 46% as many bile acids (based on a standard of comparison involving total dietary fiber).
Information derived from ( http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138 )