Collard greens belong to the Brassica family along with kales, cauliflower and broccoli. This widely popular cruciferous vegetable has dark colored blue-green leaves with a smooth texture. The vegetable is rich in vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K. It also contains manganese, calcium, zinc and potassium. Some of the key nutrients of the vegetable and functions in the body are given below.
Collard greens are an excellent source of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E. One cup of the cooked greens provides almost 120 percent of the daily value for vitamin A, 60 percent for vitamin C and 10 percent for vitamin E. These antioxidants reduce the harmful activities of free radicals. Antioxidants help to clear free radicals from the body. Consequently, the symptoms of many diseases are reduced. The vegetable is a rich source of manganese. A cup of the cooked greens provides about 50 percent of the recommended daily value for manganese. This mineral works as an enzyme activator. It is also used to manufacture antioxidant enzymes in the body that protect cells from free radicals. The vegetable is also a good source of zinc. One cup provides about 5 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc. Zinc plays a vital role in immune functions. It sustains the functions of white cells, protects cells from free radical damage and inhibits the proliferation of several viruses.
Collards are rich in essential phytonutrients that promote good health. These include organosulfur, glucosinolates and certain sulfoxides. Research has established that these nutrients have the capacity to activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver. Sulforaphane is a phytonutrient formed when the green is chopped or chewed. It induces the death of colon cancer cells and reduces proliferation of breast cancer cells. Phytonutrients also stimulate genes to accelerate production of enzymes that play a role in detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables help to lower the risk of lung, breast, ovarian, prostrate and colorectal cancers.
This mineral has several functions in the body. It helps to maintain proper bone density and is required for strong, healthy bones. Calcium helps to prevent bone loss associated with menopause and rheumatoid arthritis. Calcium and phosphorous are utilized during bone mineralization to form calcium phosphate. This is a vital component for healthy bone structure. One cup of the cruciferous greens provides about 20 percent of your daily value of calcium and 5 percent of phosphorous. Calcium helps to prevent migraine headaches. It has been shown that calcium also protects colon cells from carcinogenic substances. Calcium plays a vital role in other physiological activities. It helps to regulate enzyme activity, cell membrane functions and muscular contraction. It also regulates blood clotting. To sustain all these activities, adequate levels of calcium in the blood are necessary. Where dietary intake is insufficient, the body must draw from calcium reserves in the bones. Such a scenario can lead to osteoporosis over several years.
Organically grown cruciferous vegetables have higher nutritional levels than those that are organically cultivated. It is best to steam the vegetables lightly so that most of the phytonutrients are preserved.