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Collard greens nutrition facts

Collard greens are highly nutritious staple green “cabbage-like leaves” vegetable. Collards are one of the most popular members of the brassica family, closely related to kale and cabbage and could be described as a non-heading (acephalous) cabbage.

Botanically, the greens are named as Brassica oleracea L. (Acephala group).

Collards are probably originated in the eastern European or Asia minor region and now a day’s grown almost all parts of the cooler temperate regions The plant grows up to 3-4 feet in height and bears dark green leaves arranged in a rosette fashion around an upright, stocky main stem.

Several cultivar types of collard greens are grown around the planet depending on the soil type, climate etc.

  1. Blue Max:  It has very attractive savoy- like blue-green leaves.

  2. Georgia:  It is also known as Georgia LS or Georgia Southern.  It has blue-green and slightly savoyed leaves.

  3. Vates: Plant is compact and leaves are smooth and dark green.

  4. Champion: Low growing plant, featuring smooth, dark-green leaves with short internodes.

  5. Flash: It is a very uniform Vates type with smooth, dark-green leaves.

  6. Heavy-Crop:  It has very large, slightly savoy like, blue-green leaves. Leaves have close internodes spacing so bunching can be more difficult.

Health benefits of Collard greens

  • Wonderfully nutritious collard leaves are very low in calories (provide only 30 cal per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. However, these greeny leaves contain very good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and also; offers protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.

  • Widely considered to be healthful foods, collards are rich in invaluable sources of phyto-nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

  • Di-indolyl-methane has also found to be effective immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties by potentiating Interferon-gamma receptors and production.

  • The leaves are also an excellent source of folates, provides about 166 mcg or 41.5% of RDA. Folates are important in DNA synthesis and when given during peri-conception period can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.

  • Fresh collard leaves are also rich in vitamin-C. Provides about 59% of RDA per 100 g.  Vitamin-C is a powerful natural anti-oxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections.

  • Collard greens are also an excellent source of vitamin-A (222% of RDA per 100 g) and flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin etc. These compounds are scientifically found to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision.  Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • This leafy vegetable contain amazingly high levels of vitamin-K, provides staggering 426% of recommended daily levels per 100 leaves. Vitamin K has potential role in the increase of bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone. It also has beneficial effect in Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

  • Collards are rich in many vital B-complex groups of minerals such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and riboflavin.

  • The leaves and stems are good in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 30 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 5.69 g 4%
Protein 2.45 g 4%
Total Fat 0.42 g 1.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.60 g 9%

Folates 166 mcg 41.5%
Niacin 0.742 mg 5%
Pantothenic acid 0.267 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.165 mg 13%
Riboflavin 0.130 mg 10%
Thiamin 0.054 mg 4.5%
Vitamin A 6668 IU 222%
Vitamin C 35.3 mg 59%
Vitamin E 2.26 mg 15%
Vitamin K 510.8 mcg 426%

Sodium 20 mg 1%
Potassium 169 mg 3.5%

Calcium 145 mg 14.5%
Copper 0.039 mg 4.5%
Iron 0.19 mg 2.5%
Magnesium 9 mg 2%
Manganese 0.276 mg 12%
Selenium 1.3 mcg 2%
Zinc 0.13 mg 1%

Carotene-ß 3842 mcg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 80 mcg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 8932 mcg --

Selection and storage

Although fresh collard greens are available year around in the stores, they are at their best from November through April.  The plant is generally ready to harvest at 6-8 weeks after planting. Usually the whole plant is cut about 4 inches from the ground and sent to market in bunches. Usually, the cut ends sprouts again and bears new stems from the sides which can then be harvested again after few weeks.

In the stores, look for fresh, bright, crispy leaves with stout stalk. Avoid those with yellow discolored, sunken leaves. Whenever possible, choose this greens from the nearby organic farm in order to get maximum health benefits.

Once at home, collard greens should be cleaned as the same way as you do in any other greens like spinach. Wash the whole bunch in cold running water for few minutes till the dust, dirt rid off from the leaves and then rinse in salt water for about 30 minutes to kill any ova, cysts, and to rid off any residual pesticides.

Whenever possible, use collards while they are fresh.  Collards have relatively good shelf-life, can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Culinary uses

Both stalks and leaves are edible. Tough stalks and thick leaves are trimmed using paring knife. The leaves should be chopped in to smaller sections to aid quick cooking.
Extensive cooking may result in loss of some amount of vitamins like folates and vitamin-C.

Here are some preparation tips:

  • Collard greens blend very nicely with either salads or with cooked meat or fish dishes.

  • The fresh leaves can be also used as fresh juice along with fruit juice.

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