Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FUEL Better: Collard Greens

Why is Collard Greens a new food? Many of you have tried this Southern stable before but probably didn’t realize all the incredible health benefits it provides. Many think they have to give up Southern favorites such as collards, mustard and greens because they are “fattening.” This is absurd; it is the way we prepare them that makes them unhealthy not the vegetable itself. So let’s take a look at why you should continue to serve this Southern tradition in your home.   

Did you know that one cup of cooked collard greens will provide you with almost as much calcium as a cup of milk?

Milk products are often considered the best source of calcium, so you may be surprised to find that while one cup of 2% milk provides 29% of the daily value (297 mg) for calcium, one cup of cooked collard greens contains almost as much: 23% of the daily value (226 mg)! And the collard greens have half the calories of the milk (50 calories compared to 121) with virtually no fat.

Calcium is known primarily for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones, but recent studies have shown that it is also important in helping to protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals, preventing migraine headaches, and reducing PMS symptoms during the second half of the menstrual cycle.
The body tightly controls the amount of calcium in the blood so that sufficient calcium is always available. When dietary intake of calcium it too low it will be pulled out of the bones to maintain normal blood concentrations. This is why diets low in dietary calcium leads to osteoporosis. Next time you are wondering how to boost your calcium intake don't just think milk eat collard greens.

Other nutritional benefits of Collard Greens:
Rich in Health-Promoting Phytonutrients
As members of the Brassica genus of foods, collards stand out as a nutritional superstar. It's the organosulfur compounds in collards that have been the main subject of phytonutrient research. Although there are over 100 different glucosinolates in plants, only 10-15 are present in collards and other Brassicas. Yet these 10-15 glucosinolates appear able to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers.

Optimize Your Cells' Detoxification / Cleansing Ability
For about 20 years, we've known that many phytonutrients work as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cell membranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol. New research is revealing that phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables work at a much deeper level. These compounds signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.

Think of our liver as our washing machine and phytonutrients as our Tide Extra Strength. Our clothes would not get as clean without the detergent. This is the same scenario with our bodies. They will not be as detoxified as well without the presence of phytonutrients.

Broad Antioxidant Protection
An excellent source of the three main antioxidants in foods, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A. Together, these antioxidants seek out and disarm free radicals, which would otherwise cause significant damage to life-sustaining molecules. 

Collards provide antioxidant support through their concentration of the trace mineral, manganese. In the human body, manganese functions as an enzyme activator. Manganese helps the body utilize vitamin C. A cup of cooked collard greens supplies 53.5% of the daily value for manganese.

Optimizing Immune Function
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of zinc, two nutrients that can significantly help immune system function.  A cup of cooked collard greens provides 118.9% of the daily value for vitamin A along with 5.3% of the DV for zinc.

Promote Lung Health
If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as collard greens, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.

Vitamin A may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. "There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers,"  "Why? Probably because of their diet…The implications are that those who start smoking at an early age are more likely to become vitamin A deficient and develop complications associated with cancer and emphysema.

Not saying smoking is ok if you get enough Vitamin A…. Don’t Smoke!

Cardiovascular Protection
Collards are excellent source of folate and a very good source of vitamin B6, both of which are needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a potentially dangerous molecule that causes heart disease and heart attack, low.

A Healthy Transition through Menopause
Collards offer a combination of nutrients especially helpful for women going through menopause. The calcium in collard greens can help prevent the bone loss that frequently occurs at this stage of life. The magnesium may be helpful in reducing stress and can assist in promoting normal sleeping patterns, while the vitamin E, which was mentioned earlier as an antioxidant, has also been shown to decrease the occurrence of hot flashes that many women experience around menopause

Vitamin E-rich Leafy Greens Slow Loss of Mental Function
Mental performance normally declines with age, but the results of Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) suggest that eating just 3 servings of green leafy, yellow and cruciferous vegetables each day could slow this decline by 40%, suggests a study in the journal Neurology (Morris MC, Evans DA, et al.)

Collards are in season Now-Spring.
How to make Collards Heart Healthy:
·         Turkey neck vs. Ham Hock
·         Turkey bacon vs. Pork
·         Beef broth instead of water with ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a full pot.

No comments:

Post a Comment