Even though collard greens are a southern American tradition, their roots go back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Collard greens are part of the cabbage family and thrive in warm climates, although they are hardy enough to grow in cooler parts of the world as well. Collard greens are chock full of important vitamins and minerals and are a versatile ingredient in recipes.
Collard greens are one of the leafy green vegetables that provide fiber, vitamins and calcium. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked collard greens contains 3 g of fiber, 150 percent of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A, 30 percent the of the DV for vitamin C, and 15 percent of the DV for calcium.
Your body uses dietary iron to create the components of red blood cells that carry oxygen. Leafy green vegetables, like collard greens, provide a significant amount of dietary iron. One serving of collard greens provides 6 percent of your daily iron needs. You should consume high-iron foods along with foods rich in vitamin C as vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron. As collard greens provide both iron and vitamin C, they are an ideal nutrition package.
When buying fresh collard greens, choose a crisp bunch and store them in your refrigerator in a plastic bag. Poke holes in the bag to help keep the greens crisp. When you are ready to cook your collard greens, remove and discard the wilted leaves. Thoroughly wash your greens. Blanch them briefly to cut the bitterness and then cook them with flavorings of your choice. Steaming is an ideal cooking method as it helps to retain vitamins and minerals.
Many traditional collard green recipes call for high-fat pork ingredients. If you choose to include pork, use it sparingly to improve the nutrition of your meal. If you take the blood thinner Coumadin to prevent blood clots, you should not change the amount of greens you typically eat. Collard greens contain vitamin K, and if you ingest more or less vitamin K than you normally do, your Coumadin dose may not be effective. Talk to your doctor about how to increase collard greens in your diet.