Mustard greens (Brassica juncea), also called Chinese mustard, leaf mustard or Indian mustard is a species of mustard plant whose leaves, seeds and stems are edible. Mustard greens are considered to be a cruciferous vegetable and are a member of the Brassica family. Mustard greens in the American culture are often relegated to a popular soul food ingredient with their pungent, peppery flavor that adds a certain pizzazz to savory dishes. Mustard greens can vary in color from emerald green to burgundy to a deep purple, but is certainly a misnomer as they are never mustard colored.
Nutritional Content of Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are low in calories and contain barely any sodium or fat. Among the many nutrients found in mustard greens, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, calcium, manganese, folic acid, carotenes and fiber are found in high quantities. Other nutrients that are contained in smaller amounts are vitamin B1, phosphorus, iron, zinc and others.
Health Benefits of Mustard Greens
1. Fights cancer: Mustard greens contribute to the three critical body functions: antioxidation, detoxification and anti-inflammation that help the prevention of cancer in the body. Studies have shown a link between mustard greens consumption to the lower risk of bladder, colon, breast, lung, prostate and ovarian cancers. In addition, the presence of glucosinolates, phytonutrients common in cruciferous vegetables with cancer fighting properties make a strong anti-cancer case for mustard greens.
2. Detoxification: Phase 1 and 2 detoxification activities are boosted by the antioxidants and sulfur-containing nutrients that are contained in mustard greens.
3. Anti-oxidant properties: Mustard greens contain one of the highest concentrations of the 3 powerful antioxidants: vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, among the leafy vegetables. One cup of mustard greens provides 524% the DV of vitamin K, 177% the DV of vitamin A and 59% the DV of vitamin C.
4. Promotes digestion: Mustard greens are a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health by regulating metabolism and helping bowel movements.
5. Anti-inflammatory properties: Mustard greens contain vitamin K and omega-3-fatty acids which are 2 essential anti-inflammatory agents that help prevent chronic inflammation.
6. Eye health: The high levels of vitamin A present in mustard greens are great for strengthening the eyes and preventing macular degeneration.
7. Weight loss: Mustard greens are highly nutritious, yet low in calorie and fat. Also the high fiber content makes mustard greens excellent choices in weight loss diets.
8. Bone health: Being a good source of both calcium and potassium, mustard greens promote good bone health and help prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
9. Healthy cardiovascular system: Mustard greens help reduce cholesterol levels, support the detox and inflammation systems in the body, directly benefitting the cardiovascular system. Folate, a critical B-vitamin helps in the process of methylation which converts the dangerous homocysteine into a benign molecule. Homocysteine buildup is a contributing factor in heart disease.