When you hear about collard greens, you might instantly think of Southern soul food, and it is true that collard greens have been a staple of the Southern diet for many generations. Used in side dishes, soups, stews, and sauteed with onions and rich (and genuine) butter, recipes starring this savory vegetable have been handed down for generations. It’s time to consider collard greens as a veggie that you will want to add to your side dish (or even main meal) rotation, as it is not only bursting with flavor but chock-full of nutritious health benefits as well!
Over the past year or two, kale has dominated the healthy news world, as its benefits make it one of the ultimate superfoods. People add it to their green smoothies, salads and other meals to get the benefits (which are indeed multiple).
However, did you know that the more modest, less touted collard greens can actually rival and even outperform kale in some ways? In just one example, compared to kale, collard greens have 18 percent more calcium per serving and double the amount of protein and iron!(1)
Let’s explore the health benefits that a steaming, savory and delicious plate of collard greens can bring your body.
1) Collard greens can help lower your cholesterol
The science is in! One study demonstrated that steamed collard greens were superior to kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in binding bile acids in the digestive tract. Why is this important? Because this process aids in excreting bile acids from the body, and this in turn lowers the body’s level of cholesterol (the bile acids are made from cholesterol, so this makes sense).(2)
Healthy tip: Steaming the collards improves this process over raw collards.
2) The cancer-fighting properties of collard greens are impressive
Packed with phytonutrients, such as di-indolyl-methane and sulforaphane, proven to have anticancer properties, collard greens are beneficial in giving your body an extra boost in proven protection from ovarian, colon, breast, prostate and cervical cancers. These phytonutrients have shown that they inhibit cancer cell growth and also have cytotoxic properties against cancer cells.(3)
Additionally, there are four glucosinolates (sulfur-containing chemicals) found in collard greens: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiin and glucotropeolin. Translated into English for those of us who aren’t familiar with chemical compounds (i.e., most of us!), what this means is that these substances can be converted into isothiocyanate that aids in reducing our cancer risk by assisting in our natural anti-inflammatory systems. And anti-inflammatory is what we aim for when looking for the best foods for lowering cancer risk.(4)
3) Collard greens kick up your vitamin K levels, which contributes to longevity
So what’s the big deal about vitamin K? Consider lifespan, for one thing.
According to Life Extension magazine:
“A new 2014 study on vitamin K confirms that ample vitamin K intake can indeed help you live longer. In a group of more than 7,000 people at high risk for cardiovascular disease, people with the highest intake of vitamin K were 36% less likely to die from any cause at all, compared with those having the lowest intake.”(5)
This is great news for those who love a delicious serving of collard greens, as they are loaded with vitamin K! Additionally, they are rich in carotenoids and calcium.(6)