Collard greens are a healthy food chock full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help lower cholesterol and detoxify the liver, according to Dr. Kevin Weiland in his book, "The Dakota Diet: Health Secrets from the Great Plains." He also notes collards provide substantial amounts of vitamin A, C and K, along with manganese and folate. Collard greens can have a bitter taste that is unpleasant to some people, and they can take a while to cook. There are many other choices of greens on the market that have a similar nutrient makeup.
Kale is one possible substitute for collard greens. They are similar in many ways, notes Michael T. Murray, ND, in his book, "The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," except kale has leaves with curly edges and is less tolerant to heat. Kale also tends to be a little less bitter than collard greens and cook faster. Kale is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and B6 and manganese. One cup only has 20 calories, and is a good source of dietary fiber along with many minerals.
Chard is another green that can take the place of collards. Chard originates from the beet family, according to vegetarian chef Debra Daniels-Zeller in her book, "The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook," and has a more mild flavor than collards. It also cooks much more quickly than collard greens do, and provides high amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K. Chard provides a high percentage of daily magnesium and potassium needs, too. You can braise chard with garlic and onions, or steam it.
Spinach is an easy-to-find and cook alternative to collard greens. With a very mild and tasteful flavor when cooked, spinach provides even more folic acid than collard greens, according to Alan H. Pressman, PhD in his book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals." It also contains a high amount of iron for a vegetarian food, along with being high in vitamins A, C and K. Manganese and magnesium are also plentiful in spinach. Cooked spinach can easily take the place of cooked collard greens, and raw spinach can be eaten in salad form.
Though they have a much more bitter and distinctive taste than other substitutes mentioned on this list, mustard greens are another possible substitute for collard greens. They range from light green to dark burgundy, according to the book, "The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients" by DK Publishing. They are usually added to lettuce in salad and not eaten on their own due to their pungent flavor. Also high in vitamins A, C and K, they may help lower cholesterol similar to collard greens.