Healthy truths about collard and mustard greens
Collard greens—or just "collards"—are a member of the cabbage (Brassica) family of vegetables, which means they are a cruciferous vegetable. Their dark green pigment is a signal they contain nutritious antioxidants. Collards are also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including calcium. You can use them as you would any dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach.
A cup of raw collard greens is very low in carbohydrates, containing merely 2 grams. As with most non-starchy vegetables, there is no scientific study of the glycemic index of collards, but it is assumed to be low. Much of the carbohydrate in collard greens is fiber; it has a small amount of naturally occurring sugar. Collard greens have only a trace amount of fat on their own. If they are cooked in fat (such as olive oil), however, the resulting dish will contain fat. Cooking them in fat will help a person absorb the fat-soluble vitamins found in collard green such as vitamin K.
Like other vegetables, collard greens are not high in protein, but they do contain 1 gram per cup raw. Leafy greens like collards are packed with nutrients. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K (1 cup of cooked col- lard greens has eight times the daily requirement), vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, and other caroten- oids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. The cruciferous vegetables (which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other leafy greens like kale and collards), as a group, have been shown to have many beneficial properties.
Research is ongoing, but some studies have shown that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers, including prostate, breast, and lung cancers. High intake of leafy and cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (as much as 16% lower), according to an analysis of eight different studies. One way cruciferous vegetables may help protect the heart is by reducing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). One study of women's vegetable intake found that only cruciferous veggies offered this benefit.
In addition, higher intakes of fiber may help to improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. That dietary fiber in collard greens offers an array of other health benefits. People who consume more fiber are at lower risk for stroke, diabetes, obesity, and some gastrointestinal diseases.
One of the antioxidants in collard greens is lutein. This compound, related to vitamin A, is important to healthy vision and helps protect the eyes from age-related degeneration and diseases. Along with lutein, collard greens contain other antioxidants that can help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.
People who follow a low-FODMAP diet (a diet low in fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease can safely consume collard greens. Though uncommon, allergies to foods in the Brassica family have been reported, sometimes with cross-reactivity to mugwort pollen or mustard.7 If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after consuming or handling collard greens, consult with a doctor about how to manage this sensitivity.
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K. While this is a useful vitamin, it can interfere with certain blood-thinning medicines. If you take Coumadin (warfarin), discuss your vitamin K intake with your doctor. Collard greens are also high in oxalates, which in some people can cause painful kidney stones. If you have any kidney problems, you may want to limit your consumption of collard greens or consider consuming high-oxalate foods like collards along with foods containing calcium (such as dairy products or tofu).
Eating these foods together makes them less likely to form into kidney stones. Especially when consumed raw, cruciferous vegetables contain natur- ally occurring chemicals that may interfere with thyroid function. If you have a thyroid condition, you may need to eat fewer of these vegetables, or be sure to cook them prior to eating.
Although there are various cultivars of collard greens, in general, they are not sold as different varieties or under different names. You can also buy frozen or canned collards. Nutritionally, these options are comparable to raw greens, except that canned collards have significantly more sodium. Collard greens are a winter crop, but they are typically available all year round. When shopping, look for dark green leaves.
Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant (Brassica juncea L.). Also known as brown mustard, vegetable mustard, Indian mustard, and Chinese mustard, mustard greens are members of the Brassica genus of vegetables. This genus also includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. There are several varieties, which are usually green and have a strong bitter, spicy flavor. To make them more palatable, these leafy greens are typically enjoyed boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or even pickled.
Mustard greens are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories yet rich in fiber and micronutrients. The health benefits of mustards are practically identical to collards. Additionally, mustard greens contain 4–5 percent of the DV for calcium, iron, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, and thiamine (vitamin B1), as well as small amounts of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), and folate. Compared
with raw mustard greens, one cup (140 grams) of cooked mustard greens has much higher levels of vitamin A (96 percent of the DV), vitamin K (690 percent of the DV), and copper (22.7 percent of the DV). Yet, it’s lower in vitamins C and E.
Pickled mustard greens, often referred to as takana in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, are similar in calories, carbs, and fiber as raw mustard greens. But they do lose some nutrients during pickling, especially vitamin C.
However, one study found that pickling was an effective method for retaining important plant compounds with antioxidant properties.
Mustard greens are low in calories yet high in fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, they’re an excellent source of vitamins C and K. There’s currently limited research on the specific benefits of eating mustard greens. Still, the individual nutrients found in mustard greens — and Brassica vegetables in general — have been associated with numerous health benefits. Antioxidants are naturally occurring plant compounds that help protect against oxidative stress caused by an excess of free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells. Research suggests that over time, this damage can lead to serious, chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. While levels of specific antioxidants vary between the different varieties of mustard greens, these leafy greens in general are a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E.
Additionally, red varieties are rich in anthocyanins, which are red-purple pigments found in fruits and vegetables that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Overall, including mustard greens in your diet may help protect against diseases related to oxidative stress. Both raw and cooked mustard greens are a phenomenal source of vitamin K, providing 120 percent and 690 percent of the DV per one cup (56 grams and 140 grams), respectively.
Vitamin K is best known for its vital role in helping with blood clotting. It’s also been shown to be essential for heart and bone health. In fact, inadequate vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteopo- rosis, a condition that results in reduced bone strength and an increased risk of fractures. Recent studies have also suggested a link between vitamin K deficiency and brain health. Inadequate vitamin K may be associated with an increased risk of impaired brain functioning, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed.
Mustard greens may also be good for your immune system. Just one cup (56 grams raw, 140 grams cooked) pro- vides more than a third of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s essential for a strong immune system. Research shows that not getting enough vitamin C in your diet can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Additionally, vitamin A in mustard greens also supports your immune response. It does this by promoting the growth and distribution of T cells, which are a type of white blood cell needed to help fight off potential infections.
Mustard greens may also be good for your heart. They’re loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids and beta caro- tene, which have been associated with a reduced risk of developing and dying from heart disease. One review of eight studies found that a high intake of leafy green Brassica veggies is associated with a significant 15 percent reduced risk of heart disease. As with other Brassica vegetables, mustard greens contain compounds that help bind bile acids in your digestive system. This is important, as preventing the reabsorption of bile acids leads to lowered cholesterol levels.
According to one test-tube study, steaming mustard greens significantly increases their bile acid binding effect. This suggests that steamed mustard greens may have greater cholesterol-lowering potential, compared with eating them raw. Among the antioxidants in mustard greens are lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to benefit eye health. Specifically, these two compounds help protect your retina from oxidative damage, as well as filter out potentially harmful blue light.
s a result, research suggests that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may help protect against age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. In addition to powerful antioxidants, which may have anticancer effects, mustard greens are high in a group of beneficial plant compounds called glucosinolates. In test-tube studies, glucosinolates have been shown to help protect cells against DNA damage and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. However, these benefits haven’t been studied in humans. Similarly, a test-tube study of mustard leaf extract found protective effects against colon and lung cancers. Still, studies in humans are needed.
As for research in humans, observational studies have shown a link between overall intake of Brassica vegetables — but not mustard greens specifically — and a reduced risk of certain types of cancers, including stomach, color- ectal, and ovarian cancer. Mustard greens are rich in important plant compounds and micronutrients, specifically vitamins A, C, and K. As a result, eating them may have benefits for eye and heart health, as well as anticancer and immune-boosting properties.
‘Toria's Country Greens With Vegetable Medley
A Delicious Dinner for Dieters
Smoked Turkey Drumstick or Wings. Pre bake with onions and garlic to get the best juices to flavor your greens
Add water to maintain a simmering action. Fresh Greens (Collards from my garden—Mustards from my grocer)
OK to mix to your taste—Kale, Turnip, other fresh greens
Using large pot, add the juices from the Smoked Turkey with water sufficient to cover the fresh greens. Boil 20 minutes, then simmer for 20 minutes. De-bone the Turkey and add the meat. Meanwhile, peel and dice the following:
3–4 Carrots (Large)
Try to dice them the same size so that they look good together. Rutabaga takes a little longer to cook, so boil them 5–10 minutes before adding Turnips. Add Carrots last—they take no more than 5 minutes to boil. Veggies can also be steamed.
Optional: Add butter, margarine, butter substitute if you must.
Season to taste. Plate and garnish the plate with green onions.
Green Onion Prep: Cutting the tip off, cut the white part off from the green stems. Make several incisions from 1” in to the outer rim. A dip for a few minutes in water will allow the onion tips to spread out more like a flower.
OPTIONAL MEAL ADDS: Serve with Wild Rice if you’re watching your weight; Mac & Cheese If you’re not.
Add Hot Water Corn Bread if you’re watching your weight; Corn Bread or Monkey Bread if you’re not.
The wonderful and delicious egg is really incredible and edible. And there are many wonderful ways to cook them.
Who said egg yolks were unhealthy?
Eggs are wholesomely good; here are six great reasons to eat the whole egg
By TIM SKWIAT, Contributing Writer
Even though it shouldn’t, I still find it astonishing that some people think eggs—better said, egg yolks—are unhealthy. I shake my head when folks brag about their egg-white omelets. And I melt in disappointment when I hear nutritionists suggest fat-free egg substitutes.
If any of this sounds familiar, please don’t take it personally. It’s not your fault. It’s been beaten—no pun intended—into our heads over the years that egg yolks are “bad” for us. On top of that, many of us have been conditioned to believe fat is the dietary devil, so to speak. Fortunately, we do seem to be turning a collective corner as far as that goes due to the tireless, persistent efforts of health crusaders. Finally.
In other words, fat does not make you fat. What’s more, fat, including saturated fat, is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. While we’re bursting mythical nutrition bubbles, let’s let the cat out of the bag: the cholesterol found in eggs—and any animal food, for that matter—has no appreciable impact on blood cholesterol. As a matter of fact, eggs can be quite heart healthy.
Now that the table has been set, let’s serve the main course: Six reasons you should eat the whole egg.
1. Egg yolks are packed with nutrients. For starters, nearly half of the protein in an egg is found in the yolk. And while many people shy away from egg yolks because of their fat content, the fatty acid profile is relatively balanced. The greatest contribution of fat comes from “heart healthy” monounsaturated fats. Even more, egg yolks contain the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA. This is critical for eye, brain, and heart health.
On top of that, all the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are found in the yolk. So too are potent antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which we’ll be coming back to again and again. What’s more, virtually all the following vitamins and minerals packaged in the incredible, edible egg are in the yolk: calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, panthothenic acid, Vitamins B6, B12, and Folate.
Eggs boost brain health. When you eat the whole egg, yolks are a very good source of vitamin B12. This vitamin energizes the brain and provides crucial protection by eliminating potentially toxic compounds (i.e., homocysteine) and supporting long-term nerve health and function. Eggs are also one of the few excellent sources of choline.
And nearly all of it is in the yolk. A lesser-known nutrient that supports brain health and nervous system function, choline is the main building block of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Its significance in nervous system function cannot be overstated. The brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress. Eggs again are rich in the antioxidants lutein, and zeaxanthin, which fight free radical damage. Lutein also boosts levels of compounds which protect existing brain cells, help create new ones, and improve neuroplasticity (the brain’s capacity to keep developing, changing, and healing itself). So it enhances the ability to learn and master new tasks.
Eggs-ray vision and heart healthy
Hopefully you’re not tired of hearing about lutein and zeaxanthin. Referred to as the “macular carotenoids,” they act as primary filters of high-energy blue light. Plus, they support visual health and acuity by protecting against oxidative stress and inﬂammation. Specifically, this duo acts as a protective shield against damaging UV rays and harmful free radicals. As a result, they are often referred to as “natural sunglasses.”
What’s more, the all-important omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, highly regarded for numerous health benefits including eye health and vision support, can also be found when you eat the whole egg. Despite what you’ve probably been led to believe, regular egg consumption is heart healthy. In a recent 14-week crossover study, researchers from the University of Connecticut showed healthy adults eating 1-3 eggs per day for 4 weeks experienced a significant improvement in their blood lipid profile, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease, compared to eating no eggs. Other studies have shown no association between egg consumption and risk of heart disease. At best, they’ve shown significant improvements in blood lipids to potentially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Overall, eggs from pasture-raised hens provide a variety of nutrients that support cardiovascular health. This includes B vitamins (B12, folate), omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA), and carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin). For instance, EPA and DHA are well-known for their beneficial effects on heart health, as research has shown they may lower triglycerides by up to 50 percent and result in a 45 percent reduction in cardiovascular events.
Eggs can help trim the fat
When it comes to the battle of the bulge, appetite and satiety (feelings of fullness and satisfaction) are two critical factors that influence food intake. In a recent crossover study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that, compared to eating oatmeal, when healthy participants ate two eggs for breakfast daily for four weeks, they reported significant improvements in satiety, which correlated with lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Additional research has shown when you eat the whole egg for breakfast, it increases levels of additional satiety hormones, which decrease food intake and promote blood sugar control. Eggs are a good source of protein. And studies have shown protein-rich meals boost satiety, improve appetite control, reduce snacking, improve diet quality, reduce food motivation and reward, and support healthy weight management. In addition, eggs are also rich in healthy fats, which also help increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction
Not surprisingly, research has shown eating eggs daily for breakfast is an effective strategy to help control body weight. One study showed eating two eggs for breakfast helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than those who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.
Enhance athletic performance
Speaking of protein, eggs are one of the highest quality sources of any whole food available. In a recent review in Nutrition Today, researchers analyzed more than 25 protein studies and concluded the natural, high-quality protein in eggs contributes to strength, power, and energy in several ways: The protein in eggs helps promote steady, sustained energy because it helps support healthy carbohydrate metabolism and glycemic control. As a result, eggs help prevent a rebound effect or energy crash common with poor carbohydrate management. Further, eggs provide several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B6, and B12) required for energy production.
Dietary protein directly influences muscle mass, strength, and function in people of all ages. Eggs are a good source of protein, with a single egg providing six grams of high-quality protein, which can help individuals build and preserve muscle mass and promote healthy aging like the prevention of muscle loss. Eggs are also rich in the amino acid leucine, which is a “trigger” for building muscle, promotes recovery, and contributes to the body’s ability to use energy.
The high-quality protein in eggs provides all the essential amino acids our bodies need to build and maintain muscle mass. In fact, the quality of egg protein is so high scientists often use eggs as the “gold standard” for evaluating the protein quality of other foods.
And of course, no matter how you like them prepared (personally. The bottom line: eggs are packed with nutrition. If you regularly eat the whole egg, you are receiving some substantial health benefits you’d otherwise miss out on when you trash the yolk. When it comes to choosing eggs, your best bet is to purchase eggs from pasture-raised hens, which tend to have a slightly healthier nutrition profile.
Tim Skwiat has a master's degree in Sports Science & Nutrition, is a Precision Nutrition Coach and a NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Amie and daughter Parker Ashlee.
Recipes: Healthiest ways to cook eggs
By CRISTINA POWELL, Contributing Writer
Which came first … the chicken or the egg? Some would argue that the egg certainly must have come first, but not necessarily the chicken egg. So, it seems we aren’t going to lay this argument to rest anytime soon. Whether you side with scientists or philosophers, I think we can all agree that eating the whole egg is beneficial to your health.
In my humble opinion, cooking the egg is crucial, as we don’t want to subject ourselves to that harmful bacteria known as salmonella. I am sure most of our parents have put that fear in us at a very early age, but truth be told, this risk is actually very low. Regardless, cooked eggs contain a better source of protein and can allow for more nutrient absorption. This is not to say cooked eggs have more protein than raw, but rather our bodies absorb 50-60 percent of the protein in raw eggs compared to 90 percent of the protein in cooked eggs.
But does it matter how you cook this whole egg?
Eggs are a complete source of protein. One single serving egg contains 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and zero carbs. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, eggs contain vitamins A, D, E, B2, B12, and biotin along with iron, potassium, calcium, and selenium. Eggs also contain choline and folate, two important nutrients for supporting cell growth, brain health, and healthy pregnancies.
Healthiest ways to cook and eat eggs
1. Hard-Boiled Eggs. This method of cooking eggs keeps the egg intact, does not include any added cooking oils or additives, and makes for a really healthy and portable snack, especially for busy folks on the go. You just toss the egg, in its shell, into a pot of boiling water and allow it to cook for the desired time, and voila! There is some controversy over just how long to cook an egg for the perfect result, and I would say that depends. If you are looking for a firm yolk that is pastel yellow in color, then I would boil for roughly 7 minutes, then turn off the heat, and allow the egg to continue bathing in the warm water.
If you are more partial to a soft-boiled yolk, which is a golden yellow and slightly runny, then you are looking at closer to 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat altogether, and soak in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
2. Poached Eggs. If you have ever had Eggs Benedict, chances are you have enjoyed poached eggs. This method involves keeping the egg intact but cooking out of the shell. Similar to the hard-boiled egg, you cook the egg in a pot of boiling water, but you are cracking it into the boiling water, allowing it to cook without its shell, then removing from the water before consuming. And this doesn’t include any cooking oils, or additives, so your calories are coming solely from the egg itself. Since you are essentially leaving the yolks runny, it would be best to use pasteurized eggs to avoid that pesky salmonella we discussed earlier. The end result is like a puffy cloud or pillow of white, surrounding a golden-yellow fluid yolk. This is perfect for enjoying solo or on your favorite toasted bread. My personal favorite is with Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce, atop an English muffin. Another variation of the popular Eggs Benedict is with smoked salmon and spinach.
3. Sous Vide Eggs. Starbucks has made sous vide egg bites a trendy way to enjoy eggs. While this method is similar to both the hard boiling or poaching eggs, in that you are cooking the egg in boiling water, you are doing so inside a vacuum sealed bag. The beauty of using this method is that since the egg is contained in a bag or mold, you can add various other ingredients such as cheese, meats or vegetables. There are a few options for these at my local grocery store, Starbucks has three varieties to choose from, and with the invention of the Instant Pot, you can easily make your own. I have actually created my own copycat recipe herewith:
Bacon and Gruyere Egg Bites
1/2 cup gruyere cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup cooked bacon (crumbled)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add first three ingredients to a blender and mix until combined.
Add bacon and give a few quick pulses to get it evenly distributed and broken down a bit.
Pour mixture into silicon egg mold (Instant Pot).
Add one cup of water to Instant Pot, and insert trivet.
Place egg mold on top of trivet.
Set timer to pressure cook 8-10 minutes.
Allow eggs to set for a minute or two before attempting to remove. Enjoy!
Chef's Note: You can add anything to these that your heart desires. The two constants are the eggs and cottage cheese, but let your creativity run wild in terms of the mix ins. Cream cheese works well, so does Monterey Jack. I am a huge fan of Gruyere in this, but then again, cheese is one of my favorite foods.
4. Scrambled Eggs. In case you missed it, I have rolled up my sleeves and cooked eggs six ways to determine the best way to make scrambled eggs. It is important to keep in mind that the best tasting eggs may not necessarily be the healthiest, but in my opinion, as long as you are mindful of the types of fats and oils you are using, you can cook them whichever way you prefer. Some enjoy whisking them with water, some with butter, while others use milk or cream. It is not only a matter of taste but texture.
5. Baked Eggs. If you haven’t made individual baked eggs, then you are really missing out. You can simply crack an egg into a muffin tin and cook several of them this way as they freeze beautifully for a quick and easy breakfast any day of the week. You can add various toppings such as bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes. You can also bake a quiche, which is just using the scrambled egg mixture, usually combined with vegetables and/or meats, and served like a pie. A great way to dodge unwanted calories is to make a quiche sans crust. The egg will form its own little crust and hold everything together nicely. When I am feeding a large crowd, I like to throw a dozen eggs along with everything but the kitchen sink into a casserole dish and bake it.
One such recipe has become my go-to for hurricane prep, which occurs right about the end of summer every year. When you are busy running around boarding up windows and making sure you have plenty of candles, the last thing you want to worry about is meal prep.
6. Fried Eggs. I know, I know…you never thought I would have a fried food listed in one of my healthiest foods articles, but eggs are different. To fry an egg, all you really need is a non-stick pan or a little pat of butter or cooking spray. Simply crack the egg into the pre-heated pan and allow to cook. There are two ways this can be done. The first is to allow the egg to cook on only one side, also known as sunny-side up, which leaves the yolk a little runny. Much like the poached egg, this is great with a side of toasty bread.
The second is to gently flip the egg once the white is no longer translucent, allowing the yolk to cook a little further, also known as over-easy. I generally cook eggs this way when I am going to add them atop a plate of veggies or hash. Pretty much any way your eggs are scrambled (or fried, baked, hardboiled, etc.) is a good way to eat this nutrient-packed food. So, pick your favorite, and enjoy!
Cristina Powell is a Metabolic Effect Nutrition consultant and a nutrition coach. Her passion is to help others discover how great their bodies are meant to feel through healthy eating and an active lifestyle.