Health benefits of mustard include relief from muscular pains, psoriasis, ringworm, contact dermatitis, and respiratory disorders. Different parts of the mustard plant have been proven beneficial in treating cancer, diabetes, and detoxifying the body. It has poison repelling qualities, exerts therapeutic effects on the nerves, and helps maintain cardiac health. It promotes healthy skin and hair, lowers cholesterol, and is a wonderful botanical for women during menopause.
What is Mustard?
Mustard is a versatile cruciferous vegetable which belongs to the Brassica family just like broccoli and cabbage. Native to the temperate areas of Europe, it was amongst the earliest grown crops in the region. From thousands of years, the mustard plant has been quite popularly cultivated in North Africa, Asia, and Europe more like an herb, and was even popular amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has been esteemed as a multi-specialty crop in North America since decades with the major production happening in California and Montana until 1950 and about a decade later in the Upper Midwest regions. Presently, it is grown in over 21 countries with major production happening in EU-27, Nepal, Canada, Ukraine, and India. Attributing to its flavor and therapeutic nature, usage of mustard is quite popular all around the globe with approx. 700 lbs getting consumed annually.
It is a multitalented botanical with different varieties. Three variants out of these varieties, namely white mustard (Brassica alba,) black mustard (Brassica nigra), and brown mustard (Brassica juncea), have gained more popularity over the others and are commercially grown and used for their young flower stalks, leaves, and seeds. White mustard or sometimes referred to as yellow mustard has a milder taste and is normally used in the preparation of the famous American yellow mustard condiment. Black mustard is popular for its strong aroma and flavor while brown mustard, which is also used to prepare Dijon mustard, offers a sharp pungent taste.
Mustard Nutrition Facts
The mustard plant brings an entire gamut of helpful constituents through its various edible parts. Seeds of its plant are a rich source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Along with this, it is a good source of dietary folate and vitamin A as well. Mustard greens or leaves of mustard plants are an excellent source of essential minerals including potassium, calcium and phosphorous. It is also a good source of magnesium and dietary fiber. The immense wealth of vitamin content offered by mustard green includes a profuse amount of vitamin A, and vitamin K with folate, and vitamin C also present in decent amounts.
Health Benefits of Mustard
Phenolic components and other valuable nutrients present in different parts of the mustard plant such as seeds, leaves, and oil collectively offer a magnitude of health benefits with a unique flavor. The efficacy of mustard plant for therapeutic usage is discussed below:
Being a member of Brassica family, the seeds of a mustard plant contain generous amounts of healthy phytonutrients called glucosinolates which can prove valuable against various cancers such as the bladder, colon, and cervical cancer. Glucosinates break down to form isothiocyanates with the help of myrosinase enzymes present in mustard. Various studies have suggested that the anti-cancer effects of these components inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and even guard against the formation of such malignant cells. The chemopreventive properties of its seeds help in restoring the levels of glutathione and stimulate the induction of apoptosis without affecting the normal healthy cells.
The tiny mustard seeds are effective against psoriasis, which is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder. Research studies have validated its effectiveness in curing the inflammation and lesions associated with psoriasis. According to the study, treatment with its seeds also stimulates the activities of good enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase, which encourage protective and healing action in such diseases.
Relieves Contact Dermatitis
Mustard seeds offer therapeutic relief in contact dermatitis. Investigative research has suggested that consumption of its seeds helps in healing the symptoms associated with contact dermatitis such as healing of tissues and reduction in the ear swelling.
Mustard oil is a hearty choice when it comes to choosing cooking oil. Studies conducted to assess its effects on the patients suspected of a heart attack demonstrated positive results with respect to reduction in the rate of cardiac arrhythmia, decrease in the ventricular enlargement and the chest pain associated with it. The cardioprotective properties of mustard oil possibly attribute to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids among other helpful components.
Relief from Respiratory Disorders
Mustard seeds have been valued for their therapeutic effects in curing cold and sinus problems. It is a wonderful decongestant and expectorant which helps in clearing the mucus in the air passage. In Ayurveda, its seeds are considered as a food with the warmer tendency and are prized for its healing effects in calming vata and kapha. Since ages, different home remedies have involved the usage of mustard seeds or oil for treating a range of sinus related ailments. They include an addition of ground mustard seeds in a foot soak for releasing the congestion in the respiratory organs and gargling with tea made of mustard seeds for soothing a sore throat to name a few. The heating qualities of this plant penetrate deeply inside the tissues and clean the excess mucus buildup. These heating qualities of mustard also call for a cautionary advice with regard to the burning sensations which may happen to the exposed tissues that are not concealed.
The seeds have also been found effective in curing chronic bronchitis. During an asthmatic attack, massaging a mix of mustard oil and a small amount of camphor promotes easy breathing by breaking down phlegm. Plaster or poultice made of its seeds has been used since olden times for treating bronchitis and to stimulate healthy blood circulation in the body.
Poultice or plaster made from mustard seeds helps in curing pains and spasms as well. Mustard has rubefacient properties and hence when applied as a plaster, exercises analgesic effects and provides relief from the paralysis of limbs, rheumatism, and other muscular aches. Another important advice to note here is that mustard plaster has warmer effects and may cause sore blistering if applied directly on the naked skin. To avoid that, linen sheet should be used amidst the skin and the plaster.
Mustard seeds possess protective emetic qualities which resist the effects of poison on the body. A decoction made with its seeds helps in cleansing the body especially if the poisoning is caused by narcotics or excess intake of alcohol.
Anti-bacterial properties of mustard seeds have been proven effective in curing the lesions caused by ringworm. Topical application of a paste made of mustard seeds on clean skin washed with warm water helps in soothing the symptoms associated with ringworms.
Skin and Hair Care
It serves as a wonderful beauty aid as well. Henna leaves boiled with mustard oil help stimulate healthy hair growth. Mustard seeds, roasted in sesame or coconut oil, enrich the resultant sieved oil and make it an effective cure for acne and promote a clearer complexion.
Healing Effect on Nerves
As mentioned above, the mustard plant has heat inspiring nature which may benefit some individuals suffering from nerve damage. It helps in stimulating the healing process by arousing the impulses and has an invigorating effect on the nerves.
Mustard leaf is excellent for diabetics. Studies have demonstrated the anti-oxidation activities of a mustard plant which helps in neutralizing the effects of oxygen free molecules and protects against the damages caused by oxidative stress in diabetics. The study shows that administration of mustard oil helps in reducing the levels of glycosylated proteins and serum glucose. It aids in reducing lipid peroxidation and stimulates glucose metabolism as well.
Cholesterol Lowering Ability
Leaves of the mustard plant have tremendous cholesterol-lowering power. Studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables such as mustard greens have amazing ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract which facilitate easy excretion of these acids from the body. The bile acids usually comprise of cholesterol, so ultimately the binding process helps in reducing the cholesterol levels of the body. Another noteworthy fact here is that steamed version of mustard green has better bile acid binding as compared to raw version. So steam them lightly, maybe, add a little-roasted cumin, salt, and pepper and enjoy.
These greens are a nutritional powerhouse and are instrumental in reducing the development of blockages in the arteries and preventing disorders like atherosclerosis. Vitamin B6 content present in these greens prevents the platelets from clumping and moderates the risk of thrombosis.
Mustard greens may prove valuable for women during the menopausal phase. Magnesium along with calcium present in it encourages bone health and prevents bone loss associated with menopause. It helps in recompensing the low magnesium content in bones and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.
Aids in Detoxification
Mustard greens may help support the detox system of the body attributing to the presence of powerful antioxidants and fiber. Glucosinolates present in them help in regulating the action of detoxification enzymes and help eliminate the harmful toxins from the body.
Mustard is globally used as a flavoring agent and culinary preservative. Dried yellow mustard gives a nice flavor when added as a seasoning in salad dishes, mayonnaise, and dips. Yellow mustard is also used for preparing condiments such as table mustard. Whole mustard seeds give nice flavoring to pickles and dips. It serves wonderfully as a cooking oil for deep frying or preparing stir-fry vegetables. Yellow mustard flour has superb emulsifying and stabilizing qualities which are great for the preparation of sausages. Mustard greens can be added to soups and also serves lusciously well as the main course with cornbread which is quite popular in Northern India during colder seasons. Mustard has also been found useful to retard the fermentation process while making apple ciders and prevent the spoilage of meat products since olden times.
How to Select and Store?
While picking mustard greens, one should look for untarnished and clean green leaves without brown spots. They can be stored in a plastic bag and may be refrigerated for 3-4 days. They should be cleaned by placing them in tepid water for a while to let the sand and dirt settle down followed by repeated rinsing till the water runs clear.
Seeds of mustard plant are normally available as whole dried seeds, powdered, prepared as paste and in the form of oil. It is advisable to select organically grown seeds to avoid the risk of radiation contamination. The powdered and whole form may be stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container, six months for the powdered version and one year for the latter. Its oil and paste can be refrigerated and stored up to six months.
Side Effects of Mustard
It is always advisable to be naturally cautious while trying anything for the first time, especially when you are not aware of the allergic reactions, such as hypersensitivity to mustard seeds. Some of the known side effects are:
- Skin Issues: Mustard plant has a tendency to generate heating effects, so caution should be exercised while using it on the skin.
- Goitrogens: Uncooked mustard seeds and leaves contain a substance called goitrogens which may mess up with the functioning of the thyroid gland. People already suffering from thyroid disease should always cook the mustard prior consumption to neutralize these components.
- Oxalates: Mustard contains oxalate which is known to interfere with the absorption of calcium. Individuals already suffering from oxalate-related disorders such as kidney stones should be watchful regarding its overconsumption.
It is an energizing vegetal, which is effective in relieving stiff muscles, aching joints, congested phlegm, tumors, and pneumonia. Mustard seeds have also been considered valuable in treating the convulsions in children. Powdered mustard helps in relieving pain and discomfort caused during menstruation, and stimulates blocked flow due to climatic reasons. It also assists in stimulating the metabolism and helps shed extra fats. Its greens have a very good amount of vitamin A, which may help in promoting eye health and contains fiber which enhances digestion. Nutritional power of magnesium present in mustard helps in sustaining healthy tone and functioning of blood vessels. You would want to include it in your diet to get that much-needed fire.