We are sure you have heard of collard greens, but we are also sure that you probably wrote it off as just another vegetable. That might not have been a good move. Collard greens are packed full of nutritious properties that carry all sorts of health benefits, and we’ll share them in this post.
These leafy greens may seem intimidating to cook, but they are so rich in nutrients that the effort is well worth it. Those who eat this vegetable get to experience health benefits like improved skin and hair health and being protected against cancer. Collard greens are not only a good source of vitamins and minerals, but they also contain proteins and carbohydrates, making them an excellent addition to any balanced diet. If you want to learn more about these miraculous leaves, keep reading below:
Though it’s assumed, collard greens did not originate in Africa, even though they are such a big part of East African cuisine. The collard green plant has roots in prehistoric times and is known as one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. The plant actually originated in the eastern Mediterranean and made its way down.
In the 1600s, when the first Africans entered the United States, they brought the plant with them. The reason why collard greens are such a prominent ingredient in African-American diets is that during slavery, this was one of the only vegetables Black folks were allowed to grow for themselves. Over the years, they developed recipes to cook the leaf, and it became a part of the African-American culture itself.
Today, the plant is used in all sorts of different ways all over the world. It particularly pops up in Southern and Eastern European cuisines, Brazilian, and Portuguese cooking, as well as in Kashmir.
These underestimated leaves are so rich in minerals and vitamins that they provide health benefits that cover almost every part of our well-being. The benefits include, but are not limited to, the ones listed below:
Collard greens have high amounts of antioxidants that help detoxify the body and reduce any sort of inflammation. These properties make it a natural fighter against cancer. Collard greens are also full of sulfur compounds known as glucosinolates. These break down during the digestion process and are turning into active compounds that prevent the growth of cancer cells.
These cancer-fighting compounds particularly work against cancer that appears in the bladder, the colon, liver, stomach, lung, and breast. The glucosinolates prevent the cells from growing, and, since they are anticarcinogenic, they prevent the growth of tumors and kill off existing cancer cells as well.
GI Tract Benefits
Your digestive system plays a big role in ensuring that the rest of your body is functioning properly. Collard greens are high in fiber, making them a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to get it working optimally. 20% of Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and collard greens act as a counter-measure for the issue.
One of the biggest benefits of ingesting collard greens is that they act as a natural detoxifier. The compounds that make up the collard greens help the body remove toxins during digestion, and they also help break down the toxins in the body itself.
Collard greens provide a large amount of vitamin K to the body. Vitamin K is needed for the prevention of osteoporosis and the strengthening of bones, which decreases the risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into the body, which is an extremely important mineral needed for bone health.
Even just ingesting a cup of collard greens can give you over 100% of your recommended daily vitamin K amount. The lack of this essential vitamin can also lead to many other health risks, including those to do with the digestive system and the heart.
Skin and Hair
Collard greens are a great source of vitamins A and C as well as iron. Vitamin A is needed for the growth of skin and hair cells, as well as in the production of sebum. Sebum is needed to keep the skin and hair moisturized and healthy.
Vitamin C is important for many reasons, but it is also essential in the building and maintenance of collagen, which is what gives skin its elasticity and keeps it looking younger and fresher.
Collard greens are also a great natural source of iron, which helps blood in your body to absorb oxygen. A lack of iron in the body can cause hair loss and skin discoloration. Collard greens are a great source of iron along with other leafy greens, such as kale and spinach.
Liver and Diabetes
Collard greens have benefits for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The amount of fiber present in the leaves has been shown to reduce glucose levels and inflammation in people with type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the leafy green has been known to normalize blood sugar levels and help with insulin production and sensitivity.
The alpha-lipoic acid present in the plant is known to help with the regeneration of liver tissue. Also, as discussed earlier, the plant also helps with removing toxins from the body, which is important for liver health and function.
Collard greens have cholesterol-lowering properties because of the amount of fiber they contain. Fiber helps lower cholesterol because it binds with bile acids. It also removes excess fat that would otherwise get stored in the body.
Iron is also an important element needed for blood circulation and a healthy heart. The iron in the plant helps the production of red blood cells, which can absorb more oxygen, thus helping the heart pump healthier blood to the rest of the body.
As we can see, collard greens provide all sorts of benefits for the body in every aspect. These amazing cruciferous vegetables are very rich in minerals and vitamins and should be a part of any balanced diet. And the best part is that these are just a few of the many benefits that this incredible plant can have for the body. We hope you consider trying it out!