Collard Greens Nutrition, Benefits, Recipes, and More

Collard greens aren’t just a scrumptious Southern staple. They also have hella health benefits. We’ve got the delicious deets, plus some tasty tips on how to cook these greens.

Here’s the ultimate rundown of collard greens’ nutritional benefits. For comparison, we also included info on kale and turnip greens.

One cup contains:

Collard greens have some pretty dope health perks. Here’s the deal.

Cancer risk

Cruciferous veggies like collard greens contain compounds called glucosinolates that might lower the risk of certain types of cancer, including:

Increasing your overall intake of veggies and fruits is a smart way to improve your overall health and may protect against certain cancers, including breast cancer.

Digestive health

A cup of cooked collards has about 5.59 grams of fiber. This can help you hit the recommended daily intake (RDI) of 22 to 28 grams for women and 28 to 34 grams for men.

The hefty amount of fiber can also keep your poo popping. Fiber helps you maintain a healthy digestive tract and promotes regularity. 💩

Diabetes management

Fiber does more than keep your feces on fleek. It can also benefit folks who have diabetes.

A 2014 study found that a high intake of fiber may reduce glucose levels and inflammation in people who have type 1 diabetes. It may also help those with type 2 diabetes maintain healthy levels of blood sugar, lipids, and insulin.

Liver health

Collard greens contain glucosinolates, which may help protect your liver by providing anti-inflammatory and anticancer benefits.

But wait — there’s more! A 2013 study found that consuming collards improved liver function in rats with high blood pressure. But we need more research in humans to back this up.

Bone health

Collard greens are a killer source of vitamin K. This essential nutrient improves calcium absorption and may reduce your risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Adult women need 90 micrograms of vitamin K per day, and adult men need 120 micrograms. A cup of cooked collards has 609 micrograms of vitamin K, so it pushes you well over the RDI.

Mental health

Collards contain a mix of compounds that may benefit your mental health:

  • Magnesium. This important mineral is necessary for a healthy stress response.
  • Choline. This essential nutrient is involved in many important processes, including mood regulation, brain function, and memory.
  • Folate. Having enough folate in your diet is important for brain function. Some studies have found that people with depression tend to have lower levels of folate than those without depression.

Hair and skin health

Collards may help your hair health hit new heights. These greens are loaded with vital vitamins and nutrients that benefit your hair and nails:

  • Beta-carotene keeps your luscious locks moisturized, supports your immune system, and aids in tissue growth.
  • Vitamin C helps you build and maintain collagen, which is 10/10 important for skin and hair health.
  • Iron from a mix of animal and plant-based sources like collards can help reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia, a condition that can lead to hair loss. Add a squeeze of vitamin C-rich lemon juice to boost iron availability from collards.

Collard greens are versatile AF. You can use them in:

They’re also amazing when served solo and can be sautéed, braised, or boiled.

Southern Classic Collard Greens

Here’s a fan favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 large ham hock (Your butcher can hook you up with one.)
  • 2 pounds collard greens (about 10 cups), cut into 2-inch slices
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or lard
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  1. Rinse ham hock well, then place it in a large pot.
  2. Fill the pot with enough water to fully submerge the ham hock.
  3. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Add greens to the pot.
  5. Add water until greens are just about covered.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients.
  7. Cover and cook on low to medium heat for at least 2 hours.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative. Let your seasoning style shine!

Green juice

Raw collards have a pretty powerful flavor. But with juice, you can get all the nutritional benefits without the bitter taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups collard greens
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a juicer.
  2. Juice ’em!
  3. Enjoy ASAP.

Pro tip: Add a chunk of turmeric for an extra kick of flavor and health benefits.

Collard Chips

Move over, kale chips! There’s a new crunchy sheriff in town 🤠.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups collard leaves, cleaned and removed from stems
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (about 120°C).
  2. Toss collards in oil.
  3. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  4. Spread collards on the sheet.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes, until they’re crunch-tastic.

Pro tip: Feel free to sprinkle the finished product with the seasonings of your choice.

Most folks can enjoy collards as part of a nutritious, balanced diet. But there are some things to keep in mind.

Keep it clean

Always double- or triple-wash your greens before you get cooking. This reduces your risk of consuming unwanted bacteria that could make you sick.

You can store collards raw in your fridge for about 5 days. Just don’t eat them if they’re wilted or slimy — these are signs that they’re spoiled.

Blood clots

Collards are high in vitamin K, a nutrient that plays a role in blood clotting. So if you’re taking a blood thinner (like warfarin or Coumadin), be careful about consuming tons of collards. It’s recommended that folks taking blood thinners keep their vitamin K intake consistent.

Poop PSA

Bloating, tooting, and pooping are all common side effects of a sudden increase in fiber. If you’re new to eating lots of greens, it might take your bod a bit of time to get used to the roughage.

Collard greens are a type of cruciferous vegetable with major health potential. They’re also super versatile and can be added to lots of your fave recipes.

Just be sure you talk with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet, especially if you take any meds or have any health conditions that might be affected.

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