Updated: Apr 5, 2019
By Jenny Hammer
When most people think of collards, they think of the traditional Southern style of cooking them--usually slow-boiled for hours with a ham hock. While collards are delicious in this way, they are good prepared in other ways, as well. A plus is that shorter cooking times retain more of the nutrients and health benefits of these amazing greens.
And amazing they are. Collards, like others members of the Brassica/ Cruciferous family (kale, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli raab, rutabaga, and turnips) are loaded with nutrients, low in calories, and have been shown in numerous studies to lower cancer risks. While kale is hailed the superfood-de-jour in this regard (and rightly so), all Cruciferous vegetables have great health value, and can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways.
Collards are no exception. Their taste is not as sharp as kale’s, and they don’t have the sulphur flavor of cabbage. Like kale, though, collards are packed with vitamin K, which is important for bone health. A low intake of this vitamin can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest a daily intake of 90-120 micrograms. A cup of cooked (boiled) collard greens has 770 micrograms of vitamin K, more than enough to help keep your bones healthy.
But there’s more. Decades of advertising by the dairy industry have convinced many of us that cow’s milk is the quintessential food source for calcium. We need calcium because a deficiency in this important mineral can lead to muscle cramps, lethargy, weak bones and teeth, and abnormal heart rhythms--to mention just a few possible results from “not enough.” Is it possible for vegetables to supply us with enough daily calcium? Collards sure can. One cup of them, cooked, contains about 268 milligrams of calcium, or over 25% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Compared to the 300 milligrams in a cup of cow’s milk, perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves: “Got collards?”
Collards are very high in vitamin A and also contain protein, folates, numerous antioxidants, iron, fiber, and vitamin C.