Mustard greens are known for their rich, peppery flavor, and their nutrients and compounds may help protect against diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Mustard greens rank atop the aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI), which ranks food based on micronutrients per calorie. Mustard greens are tied for first with turnip greens, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard, and watercress.
It is definitely worth it to make mustard greens a regular part of your diet. The following article details the nutrition and various health benefits of mustard greens, along with the delicious recipes to prepare and cook these underrated leafy green vegetables.
What are Mustard Greens?
Mustard greens are known by the plant name Brassica juncea, and belong to a species of the mustard plant. The nutrient-rich Brassica family includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.
The leaves, seeds, and stem of the mustard plant are edible, and can be used in various ways. Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India, and have been consumed for more than 5,000 years. Today the plant is cultivated for its green leaves and seeds, and for the production of mustard oil.
The different varieties of mustard greens range from size, shape, and colors: red, purple, and green. Among the more popular mustard greens include Southern giant curled mustard, Chinese green mustard, mizuna, Florida broadleaf, Ethiopian mustard, and Osaka purple-leaved mustard greens.
Mustard Greens Nutrition Facts
What is important mustard greens nutrition facts? One cup of cooked mustard greens contains 3.2g of protein and 2.8g of fiber. It is also contains virtually no fat, calories, or carbs. From a micronutrient perspective, mustard greens contain nearly five times the recommended daily value of vitamin K, 177% of the daily amount of vitamin A, and about 60% of the required vitamin C. Mustard greens also contain healthy amounts of manganese, vitamin E, potassium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and cooper. Other key nutrients in mustard greens include vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
The following is a comprehensive mustard greens nutrition chart with information for one cup of chopped and cooked mustard greens, or 140g of the vegetable.
* SELF Nutrition Data
Health Benefits of Mustard Greens
What are the health benefits of mustard greens? For starters, mustard greens contain extremely high amounts of antioxidants, especially vitamin A and vitamin C. Antioxidants are useful for a number of reasons. For instance, the antioxidants found in mustard greens could potentially reduce inflammation, prevent certain types of DNA mutation and cell damage, and protect healthy cells in the cardiovascular, nervous digestive, and respiratory systems.
Mustard greens are also packed full of natural chemicals called phytonutrients that may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The high fiber in mustard greens can help reduce the amount of toxins in the digestive tract, while also normalizing cholesterol levels, lowering hypertension, and protecting against constipation, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer.
What are other benefits of mustard greens nutrition? Here are five other ways mustard greens help keep you healthy.
1. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Mustard greens can increase bile binding when cooked. When the liver needs to regain bile acid, it looks to cholesterol, and therefore levels get lowered. This process of converting cholesterol to bile acids is called bile binding. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research in 2008 demonstrated that the cholesterol-decreasing power of mustard greens improved after being steamed, instead of being eaten raw. Bile acid binding also reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
2. May Help Detoxify Blood and Liver
Mustard greens may also help cleanse the liver due to their high chlorophyll content. Studies suggest that chlorophyll can help pull environmental toxins from the bloodstream, while also neutralizing chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals in the body.
3. May Promote Bone Health
It is really remarkable how much vitamin K is found in mustard greens! There is 524% of the recommended daily value in just one cooked cup of mustard greens. Studies suggest that vitamin K may halt further bone loss in people with osteoporosis. Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and bone mineralization.
4. Important for Immunity
One cup of cooked mustard greens contains nearly 60% of your required daily vitamin C intake. The vitamin C and other antioxidants in mustard greens are valuable to the immune system. Vitamin C, in particular, is necessary for the proper function of t-cells and phagocytes. Antioxidants are credited for preventing and slowing cell damage in the body, helping fight off free radicals, and the maintenance of blood vessels.
5. Protect Skin and Eyes
As mentioned, mustard greens contain an amazing amount of vitamin A, also known as retinol. Just one cup of cooked mustard greens contains 177% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a crucial part in maintaining healthy vision and skin around the nose and mouth areas. The vitamin C in mustard greens also helps build collagen in the skin. This helps produce firm and healthy skin, while at the same time preventing the loss of elasticity.
How to Cook Mustard Greens
To maximize the nutrients available within mustard greens, it is best to consume them soon after you buy them. Mustard greens wilt quickly, so they should be stored in a cool place or refrigerator for about three days.
How do you prepare mustard greens? You can consume them raw in juices or salads; added to stir-fries, or steamed and combined with tomato, onion, garlic, and butter.
It is a good idea to sautÃ© mustard greens instead of boiling them to retain flavor. Some will add spinach or kale to help cut down on the peppery taste of mustard greens. Another great way to use mustard greens, is to create a hearty soup with these leafy greens.
Do you want a few mustard greens recipes to help get you started? Here are a couple of quick and easy recipes that are great for lunches or side dishes with dinner.
1. Simple and Healthy Sauteed Mustard Greens
- 3 cups mustard greens
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable broth
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 minced garlic clove
- Coarse grey sea salt, to taste
- Chop the garlic and slice the onion, and let them sit for five minutes.
- Roll the mustard green lengthwise, and cut into half-inch slices. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to enhance the concentration of the nutrients of the mustard greens.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, salt, and lemon juice for the dressing.
- Heat the broth in a skillet, and when it begins to steam, add the mustard greens and onions and cover. The onions will cut down the flavor of the mustard greens. Cook for no more than three minutes. For a fuller flavor, dress the mustard greens with the dressing while the greens are still hot.
2. Raw Veggie Salad
- 2 cups mustard greens
- 3 cups chopped broccoli
- 3 cups sliced cauliflower
- 4 thinly sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup packed artichoke hearts
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon grey coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- In a large bowl, combine mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and artichokes. In another bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and oregano. Pour the dressing over the salad, and serve up to four people.
Mustard Greens Precautions
Mustard greens nutrition profile is undeniableÂ with extremely high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other potent compounds.
That being said, there are some things to consider while using mustard greens. If you reheat mustard green leftovers, nitrates may convert to nitrites, which may result in bacteria formation. That is why itâs best to eat mustard greens immediately after cooking.
Also, use caution if youâre taking blood thinner medications like warfarin. The reason being is the high vitamin K in mustard greens will have your blood clot easily. People with oxalate urinary tract stones are also advised to avoid vegetables from the Brassica family like mustard greens. This is because the natural substances in brassica veggies may result in crystallization of oxalate stones.
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Pizzorno, J., âVitamin K â Keeping Calcium in Your Bones and Out of Your Blood Vessels,â WebMD, Nov. 29, 2007; http://blogs.webmd.com/integrative-medicine-wellness/2007/11/vitamin-k-keeping-calcium-in-your-bones-and-out-of-your-blood-vessels.html.
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