Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Posted from WHFoods.org


Healthy Food Tip
The Latest News about Collard Greens

Unlike broccoli and kale and cabbage, you won't find many research studies devoted to the specific health benefits of collard greens. However, collard greens are sometimes included in a longer list of cruciferous vegetables that are lumped together and examined for the health benefits they provide. Based on a very small number of studies looking specifically at collard greens, and a larger number of studies looking at cruciferous vegetables as a group (and including collard greens on the list of vegetables studied), cancer prevention appears to be a standout area for collard greens with respect to their health benefits.
What's New and Beneficial About Collard Greens
  • The cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. In a recent study, steamed collard greens outshined steamed kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage in terms of its ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract. When this bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body's cholesterol level. It's worth noting that steamed collards show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw collards.
  • We get unique health benefits from collard greens in the form of cancer protection. The cancer-preventive properties of collard greens may be largely related to 4 specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin. Each of these glucosinolates can be converted into an isothiocyanate (ITC) that helps lower our cancer risk by supporting our detox and anti-inflammatory systems.
WHFoods Recommendations
You'll want to include collard greens as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups. Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy collard greens and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.
It is very important not to overcook collard greens. Like other cruciferous vegetables overcooked collard greens will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooking. To help collard greens to cook more quickly, evenly slice the leaves into ½-inch slices and the stems into ¼-inch pieces. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and steam for 5 minutes. Serve with our Mediterranean Dressing. See 5-Minute Collard Greens for more details.
Cruciferous Vegetable Benefits
All cruciferous vegetables-including collard greens-provide integrated nourishment across a wide variety of nutritional categories and provide broad support across a wide variety of body systems as well. For more on cruciferous vegetables see:
Health Benefits
Collard greens provide numerous health benefits including:
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Detoxification benefits
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Digestive support
  • Cardiovascular support
For more details on collard green's health benefits, see this section of our dollard greens'write-up.
Nutritional Profile
Collard greens are an excellent source of free-radical scavenging vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients), anti-inflammatory vitamin K, enzyme-activating manganese, heart-healthy folate, bone-supportive calcium, and digestive-health-supporting fiber. It is a very good source of muscular-system supporting potassium and energy-producing vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. Additionally, it is a good source of heart-healthy vitamin E, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and niacin; muscular-system supporting protein; energy-producing vitamin B1, vitamin B5, phosphorus, and iron; and immune-supportive zinc.
Collard Greens as a "Goitrogenic" Food
Collard greens are sometimes referred to as a "goitrogenic" food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves-collard greens included-are not "goitrogenic" in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called "goitrogenic" -such as the cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) and soyfoods-do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Nor is it scientifically correct to say that foods "contain goitrogens," at least not if you are thinking about goitrogens as a category of substances like proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. With respect to the health of our thyroid gland, all that can be contained in a food are nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits but which, under certain circumstances, can also interfere with thyroid function. The term "goitrogenic food" makes it sound as if something is wrong with the food, but that is simply not the case. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances. For more, see an An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food.
For more on this nutrient-rich vegetable, including references related to this Latest News, see our write-up on collard greens.
If you have any questions about today's Healthy Food Tip Ask George Your Question

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