Collard greens, also called cabbage tree, or just collard, are an edible vegetable of the cabbage varieties commonly consumed around the world. The leaves of the plant can be eaten cooked, steamed, or completely raw in salad or juice. In fact, the plant is the basis for the traditional cabbage soup in France as in other countries such as North Spain, Portugal, and Brazil.
Fresh collard greens add a spicy note to salads but it is to be used in moderation because of its high texture and flavor. The leaves can be primed like spinach and blended well with barley, brown rice, potatoes and legumes. Collard gives its strong flavor to soups and stews, making it an ideal food for vegetarians. Collard greens are also delicious when topped with sauce and grated or mashed and served with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or legumes. The fresh young leaves also incorporate well with omelets and quiches.
Collard Greens and Breast Cancer
Studies conducted so far show that collard greens are among the top cruciferous vegetables having anti-cancer properties to prevent formation and reproduction of cancerous cells. It was also found that their consumption, at a rate of at least 3-4 times per week, is associated with a decrease in breast cancer, lung cancer, as well as gastrointestinal tract (stomach, colon, rectum) and prostate cancers. However, more studies on collard greens and breast cancer are needed to confirm the role of the plant in fighting the disease.
Collard Greens and Cancer Prevention
Of all vegetables, cruciferous vegetables are probably the ones with the largest variety of phytochemical molecules with anticancer properties. They also contain more polyphenols and glucosinolates than all other green foods.
Glucosinolates are natural components of many pungent plants such as mustard, cabbage, and collard greens, which are are biologically inactive. It is only when the vegetables undergo physical transformations (chopped, crushed, filled) that they are released and come into contact with myrosinase (enzyme present in the food) and transformed into sulforaphane, potent anticancer molecule, which is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts or collard greens. It is formed when glucoraphanin, organic compound of the glucosinolate family, is converted by the enzyme myrosinase. According to a study conducted by researchers from MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard medical school, this potent compound has ability to prevent cancer, relieve the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). They also have bactericidal antibiotic properties, in particular against bacteria responsible for gastric ulcers. They play an important role in the protection against stomach cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, and breast cancer.
If you are not one of the lucky people who can produce their own vegetables, you have to purchase. When buying, it is important to go organic or choose collard greens which are not contaminated with insecticide residues or harmful chemical spray. Remember, the more natural, the better!