15 Impressive Uses & Benefits of Mustard

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Different parts of the mustard plant have been proven beneficial in a variety of health-related issues. This includes relief from muscular aches and pains to dermatitis among others. It has also been shown to have anti-cancer and diabetes properties. In folk medicine, it is also considered to have poison- repelling qualities, exerts therapeutic effects on the nerves, and helps maintain cardiac health.

What is Mustard?

Mustard is a versatile cruciferous vegetable which belongs to the Brassica family, similarly to broccoli and cabbage. Native to the temperate areas of Europe, it was amongst the earliest grown crops in the region. For thousands of years, the mustard plant has been quite popularly cultivated in North Africa, Asia, and Europe more like an herb; it was even popular among the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Presently, mustard is grown in over 21 countries with major production happening in Europe, Nepal, Canada, Ukraine, and India. Attributing to its flavor and therapeutic nature, usage of mustard is quite popular all around the globe with approximately 700 pounds consumed annually.

It is a multi-faceted botanical with a number of 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 others, and are commercially grown and used for their young flower stalks, leaves, and seeds. White mustard (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, also used to prepare Dijon mustard, offers a sharp pungent taste.

A white bowl of yellow and dark brown mustard seeds

Nutrition Facts

Spices, mustard seed, ground
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]5.27
Energy [kcal]508
Protein [g]26.08
Total lipid (fat) [g]36.24
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]28.09
Fiber, total dietary [g]12.2
Sugars, total [g]6.79
Calcium, Ca [mg]266
Iron, Fe [mg]9.21
Magnesium, Mg [mg]370
Phosphorus, P [mg]828
Potassium, K [mg]738
Sodium, Na [mg]13
Zinc, Zn [mg]6.08
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]7.1
Thiamin [mg]0.81
Riboflavin [mg]0.26
Niacin [mg]4.73
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.4
Folate, DFE [µg]162
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]2
Vitamin A, IU [IU]31
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]5.07
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]5.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]1.99
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]22.52
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]10.09
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Mustard Nutrition Facts

The mustard plant brings an entire gamut of helpful constituents through its various edible parts. Seeds of the plant are rich source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, according to the USDA National Nutrition Database. 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 minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. In addition to a healthy dose of dietary fiber, it also contains vitamins A, K, and C, as well as folate (B9).

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 the mustard plant for therapeutic usage is discussed below:

Possible Anti-cancer Properties

Being a member of the 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.

According to a study published in the journal Human & Experimental Toxicology, mustard seeds may have chemopreventive potential and protect against toxic effects of carcinogens. A group of US researchers found that allyl isothiocyanate-rich mustard seed powder may help lower the risk of bladder cancer.

A study led by Yuan H, et. al. found that mustard seeds may help prevent cancer such as colon cancer due to the presence of anti-oxidants.

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. However, further research is needed to explore the beneficial effects of mustard seeds.

Relieves Symptoms of Psoriasis

The tiny mustard seeds are effective against psoriasis, which is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder. Research studies have shown the efficacy of mustard seed as an anti-inflammatory agent, and as part of future psoriasis treatments.

According to the study, use of these seeds also stimulates the activities of beneficial enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase, which encourage protective and healing action in such diseases.

Relief from Contact Dermatitis

Mustard seeds offer therapeutic relief in contact dermatitis. Investigative research has suggested that consumption of its seeds in animal models helps in healing the symptoms associated with contact dermatitis such as healing of tissues and reduction in the ear swelling. This has positive implications for relief in humans.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

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 are possibly attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids among other helpful components. This initial research is promising for future studies examining mustard seed and its cardiovascular implications.

Relief from Respiratory Disorders

In folk medicine, mustard seeds have been valued for their therapeutic effects in curing cold and sinus problems. It is considered 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 the addition of ground mustard seeds in a foot soak for releasing the congestion in the respiratory organs, another one is gargling with tea made of mustard seeds for soothing a sore throat to name a few.

In ancient medicine, the seeds have also been found effective in relieving 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 providing relief from bronchitis and to stimulate healthy blood circulation in the body.

Treats Aches & Pains

Poultice, or plaster, made from mustard seeds helps in reducing pains and spasms, as well. Mustard has rubefacient (redness producing) properties and hence when applied as a plaster, exercises analgesic effects and provides relief from 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, a linen sheet should be used between the skin and the plaster.

Poison Repulsion

In folk medicine, it is considered that 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.

Antifungal Effects against Ringworm

Some sources claim that anti-bacterial properties of mustard seeds have been shown 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 & Hair Care

Mustard serves as a wonderful beauty aid as well. Henna leaves boiled with mustard oil are thought to 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 to promote a clearer complexion.

Healing Effect on Nerves

In folk medicine, the mustard plant is considered to have “heat inspiring” nature, which is thought to 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.

Helps Control Diabetes

Mustard leaves may also be helpful for those with diabetes. Studies have demonstrated that mustard seed may be beneficial in reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress associated with this chronic disease. Another study examined the administration of mustard oil, in vivo, and found it can help 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, in particular, mustard greens have an 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 the raw version. So steam them lightly, and maybe, add little-roasted cumin, salt, and pepper and enjoy. 

These greens are a nutritional powerhouse and instrumental in reducing the development of blockages in the arteries, thus reducing–and hopefully helping to mitigate disorders like atherosclerosis. Vitamin B6 content present in these greens prevents the platelets from clumping and moderates the risk of thrombosis.

Relieves Menopausal Symptoms

Mustard greens may prove valuable for women during the menopausal phase. Magnesium, along with calcium, encourages bone health and prevents bone loss associated with menopause. It helps in recompensing the low magnesium content in bones and may, along with a healthy diet, help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.

Culinary Uses of Mustard

  • 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 flavoring to pickles and dips. It serves wonderfully as 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 slow the fermentation process while making apple cider and prevent the spoilage of meat products since olden times.

How to Select and Store?

While choosing 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 few minutes, allowing the sand and dirt to settle down. Followed with repeated rinsing until the water runs clear.

Seeds of the mustard plant are normally available in different forms, including:

  • Whole dried seeds
  • Powdered
  • Paste
  • 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. Powdered mustard can last up to six months, while the whole form is good for up to one year. 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 it may have allergic components. Some of the known side effects of mustard seed are:

  • Skin Issues: Mustard plant has a tendency to generate heating effects, so caution should be exercised while using it on the skin, or in contact with eyes.
  • Goitrogens: Uncooked mustard seeds and leaves contain a substance called goitrogens, which may alter the functioning of the thyroid gland. People already suffering from thyroid disease should always cook the mustard prior consumption to neutralize these components, and speak with a medical professional prior to consuming.
  • Oxalates: Mustard contains oxalates which are known to interfere with the absorption of calcium. Individuals already suffering from oxalate-related disorders such as kidney stones should be watchful regarding the overconsumption.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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