Latin name: Brassica oleracea var. Acephala
What are Collard Greens?
Hailing from the Cruciferae family (also known as the Brassicaceae family), collard greens are related to kale, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Like kale, collard greens do not grow in a head formation like other members of the Cruciferae family, and its cultivar name Acephala literally means “without a head.” The smooth-textured, dark blue-green leaves distinguish collard greens from the more frilly edges of kale leaves.
Collards have been cultivated since the times of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, originating from the same wild cabbage that all crucifers come from. A famous staple vegetable of southern American cooking and soul food, collard greens are also popular in Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine and often paired with fish and meat dishes.
What are the health benefits of Collard Greens?
Collard greens contain many nutrients that exhibit potent anti-cancer properties. Recent studies show that Cruciferous vegetables, such as collard greens, are potent modulators of the immune system and have powerful antiviral, antibacterial and anti-cancer activity. Nutritionally, collard greens are very healthy, packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate, dietary fiber, and calcium. In addition, collard greens are a good source of potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B6, vitamin E, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.
The vitamins A and zinc in collard greens work synergistically to boost the immune system. Collard greens’ content of calcium helps build bones, and new research reveals that crucifers provide significant cardiovascular benefits, as well. Collard greens are also high in choline, an essential nutrient for memory and brain health. The vitamin E content is also thought to plays a role in lowering risk of cognitive decline. A little fat, such as olive oil, increases the body’s ability to absorb the vitamin E.
For women going through menopause, collard greens’ nutritional combination is very helpful; the calcium protects against bone loss, vitamin E decreases hot flashes, and magnesium helps with stress and sleeping patterns.
Are there any precautions for Collard Greens?
Be aware that collard greens contain high amounts of oxalic acid, which has been implicated in gout and kidney stone formation.
Where can I find Collard Greens?
Collard greens can be found in most grocery stores and at some outdoor markets. They are available year-round, but are at their best from mid-winter to mid-spring.
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