Collards greens, the giant, rich green leafy greens that can be seen in home gardens across the south, have long been a staple of fried Southern foods. But now, health experts are increasingly recognizing the benefits of this once-overlooked food genius. Collards offer myriad benefits, but to get the most out of these veggies, don't fry them. Instead, try them raw in salads, pureed in smoothies, or steamed and lightly seasoned.
Antioxidants combat free radicals, the mischievous molecules that can ultimately lead to cancer, aging, and even death. Collards are extremely high in four core antioxidants – vitamin C, A, and E, as well as manganese. They also pack a powerful nutrient punch, boasting loads of vitamin K, which can help prevent osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. Collards also contain a third of your daily fiber intake, and nearly a third of your recommended calcium allowance.
Collards' cancer prevention benefits don't end with their antioxidant load. These leafy greens are high in di-indolyl-methane and sulforaphane, two nutrients that have been linked to cancer prevention. Research suggests collards may help reduce your risk of breast, prostate, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.
Fuel for Pregnancy
Collards, like other leafy greens, are safe for pregnant women to eat, but offer nutritional benefits to a developing baby that are hard to rival. Collards are high in folate, a nutrient commonly found in prenatal vitamins. Folate can help prevent neural tube defects, and collards pack a powerful folate punch, boasting 41% of your recommended daily intake.
Collards are high in choline, a nutrient that offers myriad benefits, including improved muscle function and a reduction in inflammation throughout the body. Some research also suggests that choline could help improve mood. One study found that choline could help reduce depression by preventing depression-related chemicals from building up in the blood stream. Other research suggests that choline may help regulate your sleep cycle – a benefit that could, in itself, improve your mood, boost your cognitive processing ability, and lead to better performance at work and at school.
Collards could help you finally prove victorious in the battle of the bulge. A single serving of collards contains only about 60 calories, but the high protein and fiber levels in these leafy greens make them feel much more filling than similar low-calorie foods. Their high nutrient load also means that it's safe to replace other snacks with collards. You'll get the nutrients you need without all the excess calories.
You should be eating at least two and a half cups of vegetables each day. Make collards part of this recommended daily allowance and you may begin seeing positive changes in your health and well-being.
CATEGORIES: Food, Healthy Food, Vegetables