The mustard plant is most well known for its tiny, yellowish seeds that produce one of the most popular condiments on Earth, mustard. But for centuries, a range of cultures have used the plant’s green leaves for food and health purposes,
- antiseptic and disinfectant to heal wounds
- diuretic to support kidney function
- detoxifying agent to purify and strengthen the blood
- treatment for cough and sore throats
Recent research shows that mustard greens have got more vitamin A than spinach and more vitamin C than oranges.
Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant (Brassica junceaL.) 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.
One cup of chopped raw mustard greens provides:
- Calories: 15
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 6% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 44% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 120% of the DV
- Copper: 10% of the DV
Additionally, mustard greens contain 4-5% 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 of cooked mustard greens has much higher levels of vitamin A (96% of the DV), vitamin K (690% of the DV), and copper (22.7% of the DV).
Pickled mustard greens, often referred to as takana in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, are similar in calories, carbs, and fiber as raw mustard greens.
Antioxidants vary between the different varieties of mustard greens, but these leafy greens in general are a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E.
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.
Both raw and cooked mustard greens are a phenomenal source of vitamin K, providing 120% and 690% of the DV per one cup, respectively. Vitamin K is best known for its role in helping with blood clotting. It’s also been shown to be essential for heart and bone health. Inadequate vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, 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.
Mustard greens may also be good for your immune system. Just one cup provides more than a third of your daily vitamin C needs and 9% of vitamin A. 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 because of the antioxidants like flavonoids and beta carotene. One review of eight studies found that a high intake of leafy green Brassica vegetables is associated with a significant 15% 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.
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. A test-tube study of mustard leaf extract found protective effects against colon and lung cancers.
Because vitamin K helps regulate blood clotting, people who take certain blood thinners need to consume consistent amounts of vitamin-K rich foods, such as mustard greens and other dark, leafy greens. The right amount of dietary vitamin K intake varies from person to person, so if you are taking blood thinners, discuss your diet with your doctor.
How to Buy
Look for mustard greens with green leaves that have fresh cut stems that are not thick. Avoid mustard greens that are yellowing and have blemishes.
Mustard greens can be found in your stores fresh in the spring, summer and fall.
How to Store
Store mustard greens in the refrigerator the same way that you would store other fresh greens. You can wash your greens immediately when you bring them home from the market. Some experts recommend that you store them in the refrigerator in a large covered bowl or in a reusable silicone bag with paper towels.
Mustard greens are prone to dryness so set the crisper to high humidity.
The paper towel helps to absorb and reduce moisture from the leaves so your mustard greens stay fresh and crunchy. Your greens may stay fresh for three to five days. Since greens can be contaminated with bacteria, it’s important to wash them thoroughly. Cooking also helps kill bacteria.
How to Cook
Rinse mustard greens under cold running water before use.
To make them more palatable, greens mustard are typically enjoyed boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or pickled.