Featured Vegetable: Collard Greens
Collards in a heart-shaped box. February is American Heart Month. What better way to show someone you care than to give them the gift of nutrient-packed foods that promote heart health. Eat fruits and vegetables daily as one delicious way to treat your heart (and your loved ones) right!
An oldie but a goodie. Collard greens date back thousands of years. They have made their way around the world and are now cultivated in many countries including the United States, not only for the edible portions but also as an ornamental garden feature. As a descendant of wild cabbage, collards, like broccoli, mustard greens and kale are part of the same family of cruciferous vegetables.
Nutrition abounds. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a variety of vegetables, especially ones that are dark green in color. In addition, Americans should choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D1. Collard greens are jam-packed with good-for-you nutrients. One cup of cooked collards is an excellent source of not only fiber and calcium, but also vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. They also provide a good source of iron and add some heart healthy potassium to your day – all for about 60 calories! Collard greens may provide anti-inflammatory effects, cholesterol-lowering benefits, and digestive support.
Selecting and storing collard greens. Collards should have firm, deep-green, un-wilted leaves. Smaller leaves provide a more tender texture and mild flavor. To store collards, place the leaves in a plastic bag that has been released of as much air as possible and keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Next time you go shopping, grab for the greens. Collard greens are frequently served as a side dish or added to soups and salads. They can be substituted in recipes for other green leafy veggies, too. Check out some suggestions below!
Start Fresh with Salad: Sweet & Tangy Grilled Chicken Salad
Soup’s On: Spinach Tortellini Soup
Savory Dish: Savory White Beans & Spinach dish
1 http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/Chapter4.pdf Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Chapter Four: Foods and Nutrients to Increase. Accessed 1/2/2013.