You probably know of collard greens as a staple ingredient in any soul food restaurant menu, or as part of a typical Sunday dinner for thousands of Americans. Well, the good news is that this common green food not only tastes good but it is also very beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Collard greens are a dark green leafy vegetable, closely related to cabbage and broccoli, and are part of the family of the so-called cruciferous vegetables. They are bitter to taste when raw, so they need to seasoned correctly before cooking.
Based on a small number of studies looking specifically at collard greens, and a larger number of studies looking at cruciferous vegetables as a group, the main health benefit of collard greens appears to be cancer prevention. Collard greens provide nutrient support for three of the body’s systems that are closely connected with cancer prevention - including the detox system, the antioxidant system and the anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase the risk of cancer. When imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly. Intake of collard greens is believed to be associated with a lower risk of 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 diindolylmethane. Sulforaphane also lowers blood glucose levels, which makes collard greens a healthy choice for people with diabetes. As a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin E, collard greens provide us with four conventional yet powerful antioxidants.
Further, as an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), collard greens also provide us with two major anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K directly manages our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.
Sulforaphane, a natural compound found in collard greens, not only triggers anti-inflammatory activity in the cardiovascular system, it may also be able to help prevent, and possibly even help reverse blood vessel damage.
The soluble fiber in collard greens - over 5 grams in every cup - makes this cruciferous vegetable a natural choice for digestive system support, providing 85% of the daily allowance from only 200 calories worth.
Last but not least, research is currently underway to examine the potential benefits of collard greens in relationship to the 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.
In other words, if you’re not already consuming this beneficial green food, why not add it to your diet today?