Can Collard Greens Cause Bloating?

Collard greens are generally considered a healthy food due to their high content of dietary fiber and vitamin C. As part of the cabbage family, collard greens are also a low-calorie food. However, the high fiber content of collard greens can lead to bloating, particularly if you have a sensitive stomach. Consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

Fresh organic collard greens on a table. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Bloating Symptoms

If you are bloated, you will feel that your abdomen is larger than usual. This uncomfortable feeling is distinct from distension, in which your abdomen actually is swollen and larger than normal. Both bloating and distension are most commonly caused by gas accumulating in your digestive system. However, in some cases, bloating may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as a tumor or enlarged abdominal organs.

Collard Greens and Bloating

Bloating is commonly caused by foods that digest poorly, leading to increased intestinal gas. Foods high in fiber, sugar or artificial sweeteners typically digest quite poorly. Collard greens do not have a significant sugar content but are a high-fiber food. The high fiber content means they are often not fully broken down or digested before reaching your colon. This delayed digestion increases the likelihood of intestinal gas and therefore a bloating sensation.

Bloating Reduction

You can reduce bloating by avoiding or limiting high-fiber foods. Collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, Swiss chard, mustard greens and green peas all contain significant quantities of fiber. Most fruits, veggies and whole grain foods contain fiber. Low-fiber foods include white rice, white bread, canned vegetables and canned fruits. If you want to continue eating collard greens but avoid bloating, consider limiting your portion size. Alternatively, try one of the many commercially available supplements designed to prevent and reduce bloating due to intestinal gas.

Collard Greens Benefits

High-fiber foods such as collard greens are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. Additionally, collard greens contain a substance known as 3,3'-diindolylmethane, which has anti-cancer, antibacterial and anti-viral properties. A study reported in the May 2006 issue of the journal "Cancer Research" indicates this compound has promise as an anti-tumor agent. It is also present in other vegetables of the Brassica family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

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