Collard greens are loose leaf greens that belong to the cruciferous family. These plants consist of a hearty main stalk that supports large, smooth, flat leaves that have been grown and consumed for well over 2,000 years! Originating in the Mediterranean, many cultures have worked with collard greens to enjoy its nutritional benefits as well as its traditional symbolism of representing wealth and currency. This low cost super food is robust and full of vitamins, minerals, and healing properties. After reading the following you may just consider adding it to your diet too!
Collard greens are a versatile vegetable that have been cultivated since ancient Greek times (700-480 B.C) and used in many dishes to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the meal. Commonly served as part of the main dish it is believed that collard greens were often included in meals throughout Southern Asia and Northern Africa before being introduced to Europe and the Americas by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Kontomire stew and Egusi stew are some recipes enjoyed in African countries. In North America collard greens or "collards" are often served as a side dish and can be found cooked with other veggies, savory meats and seafood, or along side a dish of Hoppin John's and cornbread.
Personally I enjoy adding collards to homemade veggie stews or frozen and added to smoothies. I really appreciate the full yet not bloated sensation I receive from this type of leafy green. Like many dark leafy greens, collard greens are abundant in fiber which has been known to benefit gut health and promote regularity. However collard greens have the added benefit of being a low-FODMAP food which often translates to reduced chances of stomach irritation, such as gas and bloating, for many people. Additionally collard greens contain ample amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin A, magnesium, and a whopping amount of Vitamin K!
Folks who enjoy a diet that includes collard greens reap a great deal of health benefits from this nutrient dense plant. In fact, when consumed on a regular basis and in balanced way, it appears that collard greens may help people reduce their risk of developing certain diseases.
Research shows that people with a regular diet of cruciferous vegetables, such as collard greens, have a reduced risk of cancers including: prostate, breast, ovarian, lung, bladder, and colon.
Collard greens contain 23% of the suggested daily value of folate,16% of the suggested DV of calcium, and 128% of the suggested DV for Vitamin K. This combination provides a generous amount of support to the growth, structure, and proper function of our teeth and bones. Which is especially important for our youth as they grow and develop but also important for those folks recovering from birth as postpartum recovery often includes recovering from blood loss. Folks at risk of experiencing bone degeneration will benefit from these nutrients as well.
The high amounts of folate and fiber in collard greens may be responsible for assisting people with type 2 diabetes in better managing their blood sugar levels as well as their lipids and insulin levels. Fiber has been found to reduce inflammation and both folate and fiber participate in glycemic control for those with type 1 diabetes.
Keep in mind that too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. Due to the high amounts of fiber in collard greens some folks may experience stomach irritation after consuming this food. Fibrous foods in general can lead to gas, bloating, and irregular bowl movements, so proceed with caution! The significant amount of Vitamin K in collard greens may also pose a risk to those who take medications for blood coagulation disorders. It is wise to limit the amount of collard greens you consume prior to speaking with a trusted source or medication prescriber to determine how your medication may interact with the Vitamin K.
Curious about adding collard greens to your weekly meal rotation? Check out the following video tutorial for how to make "old fashioned" fried collard greens. This recipe contains meat however there are plenty of vegetarian options to be found online. Already enjoy collards on a regular basis? Share your recipes in the comments below!
Sarah Foster is a Holistic Wellness Educator and Full Spectrum Doula in Altamonte Spring, FL that provides whole person wellness education along with a full spectrum of support for all birthing outcomes. This support includes providing thoughtful emotional, spiritual, and physical support before, during, and after pregnancy and pregnancy release. If you or someone you love are interested in support let's connect! I look forward to meeting you!