By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
Email id: email@example.com
Mustard greens are part of the brassica family, also known as cruciferous vegetables. This leafy green is in the same family as kale, collards and cabbage. The greens are high in Vitamin A (skin and eyes), Vitamin K (bones), B1, B2, B6 (red blood cells, heart, metabolism), Vitamin C (immune system), and Vitamin E (antioxidant). Mustard greens are typically used in Southern, Chinese, Indian and Japanese cooking. Young leaves can be used in salads, while older leaves have a stronger, more “mustardy” flavour and are usually sautéed or braised. Mustard greens are considered a cancer fighting vegetable and are known to lower cholesterol, improve eye, heart and bone health (1).
The mustard plant is native to sub-Himalayan plains of the Indian sub-continent, commonly cultivated for its leaves and oil seeds since ancient times. Mustards are cool season winter crop. Their tender, crispy leaves are more flavourful which last from November until March.
It is a rich source of flavonoids, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. Moreover, fresh mustard leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, several essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese as well as phytonutrients (2).
Health Benefits: (3)
- Antioxidant Properties
Mustard greens are the best source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and vitamin E! (This reflects that a food is simply not required to contain a large amount of fat in order to provide ample amounts of fat-soluble vitamins.) And also the best source of the antioxidant mineral manganese, as well as the water-soluble antioxidant vitamin C, mustard greens are a truly excellent source of conventional antioxidant support.
This cruciferous vegetable also provides unusual amounts of numerous phenolic antioxidants. Caffeic acid and ferulic acid are two phenolic antioxidants provided in significant amounts by mustard greens as are numerous polyphenolic antioxidants.
- Glucosinolate Benefits from Mustard Greens
Cruciferous vegetables are perhaps most famous as a group for their unusual sulfur content, and especially their sulfur-containing glucosinolates. Glucosinolate get converted into closely-related molecules called isothiocyanates (ITCs). The potential for glucosinolates to get converted into ITCs is often referred to as “ITC yield,” and glucosinolate-containing foods with a high ITC yield are generally regarded as being especially helpful in terms of their health benefits.
The potential health benefits from intake of ITCs are known to be wide ranging, and they include decreased risk of certain cardiovascular diseases; decreased risk of certain cancer types; and support of the digestive tract including the stomach and intestinal linings. Also, it has the ability to support detoxification activity in our cells. Detoxification of potentially hazardous substances is not only a key to our general health, but it is also important for lowering our risk of certain cancer types. Mustard greens found to have high yield of ITCs.
- Improve Cardiovascular Health
The strong antioxidant support provided by mustard greens is a natural candidate for helping lower risk of atherosclerosis. The glucosinolates in mustard greens have also been shown to provide help in the regulation of blood lipid levels, including levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Some of this regulation has been linked to the bile acid binding ability of fiber-related nutrients in mustard greens.
- Keeps Digestive Tract Healthy
Mustard Greens support the health of cells that line both the stomach and the intestinal tract. In addition, the presence of glucosinolates from mustard greens and other cruciferous vegetables in the lower intestinal tract has been shown to potentially shift the balance of bacterial populations in the lower digestive tract that may be helpful to overall gut health.
How to enjoy Mustard Greens?
- Young mustard greens make great additions to salads. Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely-related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens).
- Adding chopped mustard greens to a pasta salad gives it a little kick. One of the best combinations is chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, goat cheese, pasta, and mustard greens tossed with a little olive oil.
- Sarson ka saag, a popular dish from the Punjabi cuisine of India and Pakistan is prepared from Brassica juncea subsp. tatsai which has a particularly thick stem and is used in making the Indian pickle called Achar and the Chinese pickle zha cai.
- Mustard greens with pork also known as Rayo in Nepali is the dish prepared by the Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim. It is usually eaten and relished with steamed rice and can also be eaten with chapati (Indian breads).
- Mustard greens are also used in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Asian mustard greens are mostly stir fried or pickled. Asam gai choy or kiam chai boey, a popular Southeast Asian dish is often made of leftovers from a large meal and it involves stewing of mustard greens with tamarind, dried chillies and leftover meat on the bone.