What Are Collard Greens? Nutrition, Health Benefits, And Risks

Written by Sindhu Koganti , BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Collard greens belong to the Brassica family, just like other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and mustard greens. These large loose-leafed green vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories. These have been a part of a healthy diet for at least 2,000 years. Collard greens also have antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. Adding them to your diet may help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, improve bone health, and promote eye health.

In this article, we explore the health benefits of collard greens, their nutrition, recipes, and possible side effects. Keep reading.

Nutritional Profile Of Collard Greens

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup (36g) of chopped collard greens contains (1):

  • Calories: 32.3g
  • Protein: 1.09g
  • Fat: 0.22g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.95g
  • Fiber: 1.44g
  • Calcium: 83.5 mg
  • Iron: 0.169 mg
  • Magnesium: 9.72 mg
  • Potassium: 76.7 mg
  • Phosphorus: 9 mg
  • Vitamin A: 90.4 µg
  • Vitamin K: 157 µg
  • Vitamin C: 12.7 mg
  • Folate: 46.4 µg

Collard greens also contain several plant compounds and antioxidants that help treat many ailments. In the next section, we explore the health benefits of collard greens.

Health Benefits Of Collard Greens

1. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

Cruciferous vegetables like collard greens contain Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a natural compound derived from the breakdown of glucosinolate. This compound prevents certain cancer cells from multiplying and helps reduce the risk of lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancers (2),(3). Studies suggest that glucosinolates (natural plant compounds) in cruciferous vegetables may also help prevent and treat bladder cancer (4).

A study by the University of California at Berkeley, California, found that the phytochemicals in cruciferous veggies may help suppress human breast cancer cells (5). Besides, erucin, an isothiocyanate (hydrolysis products of glucosinolates) in greens, plays a major role in inhibiting the growth and multiplication of pancreatic cancer cells (6). However, more studies are warranted to understand this benefit of collard greens in humans.

2. Improves Bone Health

Collard greens are rich in vitamin K and calcium that are essential for bone health (1). Vitamin K deficiency is linked to bone fractures (7), (8). Almost 98% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones. It is a key mineral that supports bone structure (9). A study by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Australia, found that adequate calcium intake helps prevent osteoporosis (weakening of bones) and related fractures (10).

3. Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk

A study found that eating green leafy vegetables reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 15.8% (11). Besides, taking cruciferous vegetables may also prevent sub-clinical atherosclerosis (build-up of fat on the artery walls) in older adult women (12).

Consuming green leafy vegetables also may help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases (13). A review published in Nutrients suggests that eating leafy vegetables like collard greens helps decrease total LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease ( 13).

4. Helps Improve Type2 Diabetes

Collard greens are rich in dietary fiber, which helps reduce type 2 diabetes risk (14). Studies suggest that an increased intake of dietary fiber (30 g/day) may help reduce inflammation in people with type1 diabetes (15).

An aqueous extract of Moroccan collard green leaves is shown to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic rats (16). Also, collard greens contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that helps reverse diabetes complications (17).

5. May Promote Eye Health

Collard greens contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which form the macular pigment of the human eye (1),(18). These dietary carotenoids may help protect against visual disorders like age-related macular degeneration (central vision loss) and cataracts.

A study by University Eye Clinic Maastricht, The Netherlands, found that lutein can filter blue light and has antioxidant properties. Eliminating lutein from the diet of experimental animals showed early degenerative signs in the retina ( 19). Eating collard greens is also thought to help reduce the risk of glaucoma, though more research is needed in this regard.

These health benefits of collard greens are far-reaching. But how do you include them in your diet? Here are some easy recipes you can try at home.

3 Easy And Delicious Recipes Of Collard Greens

1. Quick Collard Greens

What You Need

  • Collard greens – 1 large bunch (10 ounces)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 1½tablespoons
  • Fine sea salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Garlic cloves – 2
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Lemon wedges – 2


  1. Cut the thick central rib out of each collard green.
  2. Stack the rib-less collards, and roll and chop.
  3. Add the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the chopped collards and salt when the oil starts to simmer.
  5. Stir until the collards are lightly coated in oil. Let them cook for about 30 seconds and stir
  6. Continue stirring in 30-second intervals until the collards are wilted, dark green, and some are starting to turn brown on the edges.
  7. This will take 3 to 6 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes once the collards are just about done.
  9. Stir to break up the garlic and cook until it is fragrant(about 30 seconds).
  10. Serve hot with a lemon wedge.

2. Southern Style Collard Greens

What You Need

  • Chopped collard greens – 8 to 10 cups
  • Bacon fat, lard, or vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Chicken stock – 4 cups
  • Onion – 1
  • Garlic cloves – 2
  • Water – 1 to 2 cups
  • Salt – to taste
  • Vinegar and hot sauce – to taste


  1. Heat the bacon fat in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onion in it until the edges begin to turn brown(about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the ham hock, smashed garlic, chicken stock, and water, and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Add the collard greens and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour, partially covered, until they are tender.
  6. Remove the ham hock, pull the meat off the bones, and chop.
  7. Mix the meat back with the greens.
  8. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  9. Serve with vinegar and hot sauce.

3. Fresh Collard Green Salad

What You Need

  • Collard greens– 1 large bunch
  • Olive oil – 1 cup
  • Golden raisins – ½ cup
  • Apple cider vinegar – 1/3 cup
  • Finely chopped roasted peanuts – 1 cup
  • Sliced granny smith apples – 3
  • Mustard – 1 tablespoon
  • Minced shallot – 1
  • Honey – ½ tablespoon
  • Kosher salt – to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper – to taste


  1. Toast chopped peanuts in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes at 375 degrees or until they turn golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Add vinegar, mustard, honey, minced shallot, and peanuts in a medium-sized bowl and stir.
  3. Slowly pour in olive oil while vigorously mixing with your whisk.
  4. Continue to add oil until the mixture is emulsified.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.
  6. Add chopped collard greens in a large bowl.
  7. Add sliced onion and apples, and golden raisins.
  8. Dress with your vinaigrette at least 5 minutes before eating the

These are some easy and delicious collard greens recipes. But how do you select and store them? Read on to find the answer.

How To Select And Store Collard Greens?

Avoid buying wilted collard green leaves or those with yellow patches and dark spots. Always look for fresh green leaves. They can last up to five days if kept in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them. Blanch collard greens first to freeze them.

Are there any side effects associated with collard greens? Read to know.

Possible Side Effects Of Collard Greens

Eating collard greens is generally considered safe. But their high vitamin K content can interfere with blood-thinning medication (20). They are also rich in oxalates, which may cause kidney stones in some people (21). Consult your doctor before consuming collard greens if you are using any blood thinners or have a history of kidney stones. Also, adding too much fiber to your diet may result in bloating. Consuming raw cruciferous vegetables may also interfere with thyroid function. However, limited data is available on these side effects of collard greens. Speak to your doctor for more information.


Collard greens are cruciferous vegetables with a mild flavor and tough stem. They have a rich nutrient profile and have antioxidants and plant compounds that help treat several ailments. Eating them helps reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, improves eye and bone health, and helps control type 2 diabetes. You can add this vegetable to your salads, stews, smoothies, etc. However, people on blood-thinning medications and with a history of kidney stones should avoid high intake of collard greens. Limit their consumption and consult your doctor in the case of any emergency.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Are collard greens a superfood

The rich nutrient profile, antioxidants, carotenoids, and the fewer calories in collard greens make it a superfood.

Can collard greens help you lose weight?

Collard greens are low in calories and high in dietary fiber. Studies suggest that high dietary fiber intake may help regulate body weight ( 22).

What happens if you eat collard greens every day?

Collard greens are rich in fiber, vitamins K and A, and folate. Regular intake may offer important health benefits. But eating too many leafy greens is not recommended for individuals with kidney stones or those on blood-thinning medications. Check with your doctor if you want to consume them daily.

Does cooking collard greens destroy their nutrients?

Cook collard greens for 10 minutes or less to retain the nutrients. Overcooking may destroy their nutrients.


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  1. Collards raw
  2. Brassicaceae-Derived Anticancer Agents: Towards a Green Approach to Beat Cancer
  3. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis
  4. Cruciferous Vegetables Isothiocyanates and Bladder Cancer Prevention
  5. Phytochemical regulation of the tumor suppressive microRNA miR-34a by p53-dependent and independent responses in human breast cancer cells
  6. Anticancer properties of erucin an H 2 S-releasing isothiocyanate on human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells (AsPC-1)
  7. Vitamin K and bone health in older adults
  8. Vitamin K Nutrition and Bone Health
  9. Calcium
  10. Calcium and bone
  11. The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis
  12. Cruciferous and Total Vegetable Intakes Are Inversely Associated With Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Older Adult Women
  13. Influence of Green Leafy Vegetables in Diets with an Elevated ω-6:ω-3 Fatty Acid Ratio on Rat Blood Pressure Plasma Lipids Antioxidant Status and Markers of Inflammation
  14. Dietary Fiber Intake and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
  15. Fiber intake and inflammation in type 1 diabetes
  16. Antihyperglycemic Effect of the Moroccan Collard Green (Brassica oleracea var. viridis) in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats
  17. Adverse Effects of High Doses of Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid on Liver Mitochondria
  18. The Pharmacological Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Visual Disorders and Cognition Diseases
  19. Lutein: more than just a filter for blue light
  20. Influence of vitamin K on anticoagulant therapy depends on vitamin K status and the source and chemical forms of vitamin K
  21. Dietary oxalate and kidney stone formation
  22. Dietary fiber and weight regulation

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