Loaded with disease-fighting nutrition, mustard greens are full of great peppery, rich flavor, yet so light in calories, you can eat as much as you want. Mustard greens are my lightweight champion of superfoods!
The mustard greens nutrition profile is packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and protective phytonutrients, yet because of their slimming calorie count, their nutrition-to-calorie ratio makes them one of the most nutrient-dense and beneficial foods on the planet.
Like almost all leafy green vegetables, mustard greens contain antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage. They’re also a great source of fiber, which helps to regulate your digestive tract and lower high cholesterol levels.
There are so many ways to prepare and cook mustard greens, and it’s worth it because these super-greens have the power to heal you from within.
Mustard Greens Nutrition Facts
Taking a look at mustard greens nutrition, you can see what a superfood these delicious greens really are.
Just one cup of cooked mustard greens contains (in daily recommended values):
- 21 calories
- 0 grams of fat
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of dietary fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 524% Vitamin K
- 177% Vitamin A
- 59% Vitamin C
- 26% Folate
- 19% Manganese
- 10% Calcium
- 8% Vitamin E
- 8% Potassium
- 7% Vitamin B6
- 6% Phosphorus
- 6% Copper
Mustard Greens Nutrition Benefits
1. High Levels of Antioxidants
An exciting fact about mustard greens nutrition is that they have an extremely high level of antioxidants, in the form of vitamin A and vitamin C. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent certain types of cell damage and DNA mutation, especially those caused by oxidative stress.
When certain types of oxygen molecules are allowed to travel freely in the body, they cause the formation of free radicals. These free radicals are very dangerous to the body’s cells and tissues, and they’re connected to cancer development, neurodegenerative diseases and premature aging.
The damage done by free radicals in the body is known as oxidative stress, or oxidation. Oxidation is the same process that browns an apple or rusts metal. Rampaging free radicals react with compounds in the body and oxidize them to cause both inflammation and disease formation.
The antioxidants found in mustard greens nutrition can protect your body from these health concerns by combating free radical damage, reducing inflammation, and protecting healthy cells throughout the digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous system. (1)
2. Detoxifies Your Liver and Blood
Mustard greens are great for cleansing the liver. Because they’re also high in plant chlorophyll, mustard greens can literally pull environmental toxins from the bloodstream.
They also possess a distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides that are in your body. One study even indicates that food sources that yield chlorophyll derivatives may play a significant role in cancer prevention. (2)
3. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Our liver uses cholesterol to produce bile acids, which works with bile to break down fats. While the liver produces primary bile acids, your intestines form secondary bile acids. Why do we need it? We all require enough bile to digest our fats or else constipation can occur.
However, bile production must be in balance. For those with high cholesterol, they either don’t produce enough bile or have difficulty converting cholesterol into bile acids. This is usually due to a high consumption of fats and not enough dark leafy greens in their diet, or a dysfunction of the liver or colon.
When the liver is looking to regain its bile acid, it uses your cholesterol and therefore lowers your levels. This process of using cholesterol to make bile acids is called “bile binding.”
Mustard greens have a special ability to increase bile binding, especially when they are cooked. Mustard greens continue to be researched for their ability to increase this bile acid production and decrease bad cholesterol.
While bile acid is associated with an increased risk of cancer, bile acid binding helps lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. A recent study shows that the cholesterol-lowering ability of raw mustard greens improves significantly when they’re steamed, as opposed to eating them raw. (3)
4. Packed with Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are the natural chemicals that are found in plant foods. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats, but also have benefits for the human body.
The great thing about phytonutrients is that when you eat or drink them, they may help to prevent disease and keep your body working properly. (4) A diet high in phytonutrients from plants is correlated with lower cancer and heart disease risk, can help prevent diabetes and obesity, and slows down the aging process of the brain.
5. High in Fiber
The dietary fiber found in mustard greens is beneficial for several reasons. It helps to control cholesterol levels by interfering with its absorption in the gut. Adequate fiber in the food aids in smooth bowel movements and thereby offers protection from hemorrhoids, constipation and colon disease like colon cancer.
This is one reason why individuals with high intakes of dietary fiber appear to be at a significantly lower risk for developing many diseases: coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
6. High in Bone-Building Vitamin K
Mustard greens nutrition also contains 524 percent of your daily value of vitamin K! Vitamin K is one of the main vitamins involved in bone mineralization, blood clotting and even removes calcium from areas of the body where it shouldn’t be. Moreover, it also helps support both our brain function and healthy metabolism, and it protects us against cancer.
Some studies posit that high intakes of vitamin K can stop further bone loss in people with osteoporosis. (6)
Other studies show that vitamin K is a critical nutrient for reducing inflammation and protecting cells that line blood vessels, including both veins and arteries. Vitamin K can even help to reduce PMS cramps and other menstrual pains by regulating the function of your hormones. It’s also responsible for helping to prevent and heal bruises, too.
7. Good Source of Immune-Boosting Vitamin C
The 59 percent of your daily value of vitamin C that’s present in one cup of mustard greens is a great way to repair and nurse your body. There are a ton of amazing benefits of vitamin C consumption, and it’s needed for a variety of vital body functions.
Vitamin C can repair and maintain your teeth and bones, slow and prevent cell damage in your body, maintain healthy body tissues, boost your immune system, help fight off free radicals, build collagen, and help maintain blood vessels. (7)
8. Provides Skin & Eye Health Protection
Mustard greens nutrition contains 177 percent of your daily value of vitamin A in just one cup of cooked greens. Vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological function and skin, and is involved in reducing inflammation through fighting free radical damage.
Consuming foods high in vitamin A, plus other antioxidants, is a way to naturally slow aging. (8) Studies have repeatedly shown that antioxidants like Vitamin A are vital to good health and longevity — they benefit eye health, boost immunity, fight skin cancer and foster cell growth.
Mustard greens nutrition also contains a high level of skin-protecting vitamin C. Vitamin C helps build collagen in the skin, which in turn helps produce firm, healthy skin and prevents loss of elasticity. Because they reduce inflammation, both vitamin A and vitamin C can help clear acne and other skin problems.
With your daily value taken care of with just a single cup of mustard greens, this is an amazing opportunity to boost your health!
History of Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are also called brassica juncea, and they are a species of the mustard plant. The leaves, seeds and stem of the plant are edible and are used in a variety of ways.
Mustard greens have been consumed for over 5,000 years and originated in the Himalayan region of India. Today, India, Nepal, China and Japan are the leading producers of mustard greens, but a substantial amount are grown in the U.S. as well.
The plant in its many varieties is used across the world, such as Africa, Italy and Korea. The plant is cultivated for several food uses: for its green leaves and seeds, and to produce mustard oil. Mustard oil, which is known as one of the best vegetable oils in Russia, is used in canning, baking and margarine production. Mustard oil is also popular in Eastern India.
In Europe, mustard plants are used primarily for their seeds in order to make mustard, which is one of the few spices that are locally grown.
Today, mustard greens are added to dishes around the world. Each country has unique ways of incorporating these nutritious greens into its culture. In Africa, people add mustard greens to fish, like a famous meal called sarson da saag.
In India, the stem of the plant is pickled, and in China the seeds are used to make mustard. The mustard that is made from these seeds is called brown mustard. In Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim, mustard greens are eaten with relish and steamed rice, and they also eat them with grilled bread.
In soul food cooking, which is popular in the Southern states of the U.S, mustard greens are flavored by being cooked with ham hocks or smoked pork for hours.
In Japan, mustard greens are added to stir-fried dishes, and the Japanese also make a stew with mustard greens, tamarind (a fruit that grows from the tamarind tree), meat and dried chili peppers.
How to Use Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are more pungent than closely related greens like kale, cabbage and collard greens. Their strong scent and flavor is sometimes toned down by adding them to milder greens, or traditionally cooking them with pork or ham.
To create a milder flavor and avoid pork, try seasoning them with some beef bacon, onions and red pepper flakes, or stewing with some sliced grass-fed beef femur bones, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, onion, garlic, even adding some 80/20 ground chuck steak to bring the level of acidity in the greens down.
When shopping for mustard greens, look for fresh mustard greens that have crispy and dark green leaves. Avoid leaves that are spotted, discovered or yellow. Because mustard greens are winter crops, they will taste the best from November to March.
In order to maximize the nutrients that are available in mustard greens, eat them soon after buying. They will wilt quickly, so store them in the refrigerator (for about three days) or a cool place.
When preparing mustard greens, make sure to wash them thoroughly in order to clean them of sand, soil, surface dust and insecticide residue (the latter if they’re not organic). You can do this by running them under clean water or leaving them in a bowl of clean water before cooking.
There are a number of ways to prepare mustard greens. They can be eaten raw and added to salads or juices. They can be added to a stir fry or steamed, and they go well with onion, tomato, garlic or a tiny bit of butter. The spiciness found in mustard greens can be toned down by adding an acid toward the end of cooking, like vinegar or lemon juice.
Cooking Mustard Greens
Mustard greens have a peppery taste and give off a mustardy smell during cooking. They come in red and green varieties and have scalloped edges. The spicy taste of mustard greens combined with milder flavors creates a well-balanced and layered dish.
Here are some cooking ideas that you can try in your kitchen:
Sauté mustard greens instead of boiling them to retain their flavor. They can be sautéed with garlic and a bit of oil, then you can add salt and pepper for extra flavor. You can also season sautéed mustard greens with curry powder, red pepper flakes or fresh lemon juice.
An easy way to take advantage of mustard greens nutrition is by making juices with these vitamin-packed greens. You can juice mustard greens by combining them with an array of fruits and veggies.
Try combining mustard greens with carrots, cucumbers, celery, apple, lemon or ginger. You can cut down on the peppery taste of mustard greens by adding less intense leafy greens, like spinach or kale.
Another great way to pack these antioxidant-rich greens into your daily meal plan is by using them to make a soup. The options are endless! Use lentils or white beans and add veggie stock and chopped mustard greens.
Or you can add the meat of your choice to any soup, like turkey, pork or chicken. Add tofu or noodles to your mustard green soup, or concoct a soup with carrots, celery, onions and mustard greens. This is such an easy way to incorporate mustard greens into your diet. Make a big batch one night and eat it for days!
Mustard Green Recipes
Add mustard greens to any of these recipes to boost the nutritional punch of these plates.
- Add mustard greens to this Apple, Quinoa, and Kale Salad, or this Raw Veggie Salad recipe.
- The peppery taste of mustard greens would be an awesome addition to this Chicken Vegetable Soup.
- You can even be brave and try adding mustard greens in some of these Green Smoothie Recipes.
Mustard Greens Concerns
Reheating of mustard green leftovers may cause a conversion of nitrates to nitrites, and certain bacteria may form because of this. These poisonous compounds may be harmful to your health, so try to eat your mustard greens after cooking them.
Because of the vitamin K that is found in mustard greens, your blood will clot easily. You would want to avoid this if you are on blood thinner medications, like warfarin.
Certain people who have issues with oxalate urinary tract stones should avoid eating vegetables belonging to Brassica family, like mustard greens, because the natural substances found in the vegetable may lead to the crystallization of oxalate stones.
Because mustard greens are full of fiber, your body may be losing nutrients such as iron, calcium and magnesium because of the easy movement in your digestive tract.
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