Mustard greens are leafy green vegetables that are related to the cabbage family. They taste slightly bitter with a peppery flavor. These greens are often chopped and cooked as an ingredient in other foods, such as soups or stir-fry dishes. Aside from being tasty, they are high in nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium and magnesium. This makes them a nutrient-rich addition to any diet. In this article, we look at the benefits and side effects of eating this vegetable. We also provide some meal ideas for using mustard greens in your everyday cooking. Nutritional information and facts about the health benefits of mustards, mustard greens benefits are included too.
Mustard Greens Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA a cup (56 grams) of chopped raw mustard greens provides (8):
- Calories: 15
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 6% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 44% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 120% of the DV
- Copper: 10% of the DV
Additionally, mustard greens contain 4 to 5% of the DV for several minerals, including calcium, iron, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, and thiamine (vitamin B1). This vegetable also has small amounts of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), and folate.
Mustard Greens Benefits
Due to their nutrient-rich profile, mustard greens offer the following health benefits:
Antioxidants are naturally-occurring chemical compounds that fight oxidative stress in the body. Mustard greens are rich in various antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. Antioxidants keep free radicals under control, which helps protect cells from damage (9).
Mustard greens contain glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds also found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Glucosinolates can be converted into isothiocyanates (ITCs) by the body. This modulation helps boost antioxidant defenses and lower inflammation, both of which contribute to disease prevention (9).
Vitamin K is key for mineralizing bones, which has to do with laying down calcium in appropriate places like bone tissue. Mustard greens are rich in vitamin K, which is why they are promoted as bone-healthy food (9).
Mustard Greens Benefits: Heart Health
Mustard greens contain plenty of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium– all of which contribute to heart health.
Magnesium keeps the heart beating at a steady rhythm while potassium regulates blood pressure. Calcium keeps arteries healthy by reducing artery calcification and preventing blood clots. Potassium-rich foods are also linked to a reduced risk of stroke (15).
Furthermore, antioxidant-rich foods, like mustard greens, tend to promote heart health by guarding against oxidative stress. This phenomenon is related to the formation of plaque in arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease (15).
Several compounds found in mustard greens have been linked with cancer prevention, including indoles and isothiocyanates. Indoles are naturally-occurring chemicals found in cruciferous vegetables that have been linked with reduced cancer risk. Isoflavones are also found in mustard greens and they perform various functions, such as acting as antioxidants and encouraging cell differentiation (3).
Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled division of cells, which leads to the formation of tumors. Cancer-fighting nutrients like indoles, isothiocyanates, and flavonoids work to inhibit this process (3).
Vitamin A is important for eye health because it helps maintain sharp vision. This vitamin promotes proper cell growth throughout the body, including in the retina of the eyes. It also protects cells from oxidative damage, keeping them healthy. Moreover, vitamin A is well-known for its ability to maintain the health of mucus membranes throughout the body, which makes it important for overall immune function (10).
Mustard Greens Benefits: Improved Digestion And Gut Health
The dietary fiber in mustard greens helps improve digestion and prevents constipation. Fiber is good for gut health, which is often compromised by processed foods, inadequate fiber intake, and environmental pollutants (4).
Fiber promotes motility and works as a prebiotic, feeding the “good” bacteria in the gut. Good bacteria ferment fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and promote an ideal environment for gut health (4).
Mustard greens are full of nutrients that support the immune system. These include vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, calcium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), phosphorus, magnesium, copper, potassium, and manganese (11).
Iron is key for maintaining red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body to fuel cellular activity. Magnesium, calcium, and potassium all contribute to nerve and muscle function, which is key for a strong immune response (11).
Vitamin A in mustard greens keeps skin cells healthy and thriving. Vitamin A also helps protect against free radical damage, which contributes to skin aging and wrinkling (6).
High-fiber foods tend to be filling and can provide a pleasurable “full” sensation that helps curb hunger cravings. Mustard greens are also low in calories, which makes them an ideal food for weight loss. In fact, the calories in mustard greens are only 15 kcal per cup (8).
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Mustard Greens Side Effects And Precautions
The following side effects and health concerns are associated with eating mustard greens:
Gas And Bloating
Due to their high fiber content, eating too much raw or cooked mustard greens can result in gas and bloating (7). If this is a problem that you experience frequently, try blanching or steaming the greens before cooking them in other dishes to help reduce the risk of gas and bloating. If trying to increase your fiber intake, do so gradually to minimize these side effects and make sure you drink plenty of water.
Interaction With Medications
Mustard greens are high in Vitamin K, which is an important factor in blood clotting. Taking medications like warfarin (Coumadin), which are also blood thinners, may increase the risk of excessive bleeding when combined with mustard greens (1). Talk to your doctor and dietitian about balancing your vitamin K intake if you are taking blood thinners.
Increased Risk Of Kidney Stones When Consumed In Large Amounts
Like spinach, mustard greens contain oxalates. Oxalates can increase the risk of kidney stones in people who are sensitive to them and may impair calcium absorption because they bind to calcium in the digestive tract before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream (4). Again, even though one serving per day is unlikely to cause this condition for most people, those who already have problems with kidney stones should limit their intake. Some cooking methods can also help decrease the oxalate content.
How To Prepare And Eat Mustard Greens?
While at the grocery store, make sure you choose mustard green bunches with leaves that are dark green and free of holes. Make sure the stem is still attached.
While preparing this vegetable, start by washing it under cool running water. Then gently remove the leaves from the stem by holding it at its base and pulling outward. Be sure to check the leaves for small holes which may be hiding worms. Once all of the leaves are free, place them in a colander and rinse again under cool running water.
There are many ways to enjoy mustard greens, such as:
Raw In A Salad
Mustard greens have a peppery, mildly spicy flavor that makes them an ideal salad green. Because they are slightly bitter, it is nice to pair them with sweeter ingredients like orange slices or dried cranberries.
When cooking mustard greens, it is best to use olive oil because the high heat can burn other oils. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and carefully add one garlic clove (minced), the mustard greens, and ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook for approximately five minutes or until the leaves are wilted.
This is a great way to enjoy the vitamins and minerals found in this vegetable without adding too many extra calories or fat. To steam the mustard greens, place them in a steamer over an inch or two of boiling water. Cover and cook until they are bright green and slightly crispy.
Mustard greens can be added to sandwiches in place of lettuce for a tangy flavor. They may also be combined with other sandwich fillings, such as cooked pork or turkey and cheese for a more substantial meal.
In Soups And Stews
Mustard greens go really well with beef and chicken broth as well as pork. This combination is typically found in African stew recipes, but it can also be used to make a hearty winter soup.
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Mustard Greens Recipes
Mustard greens are very versatile and can be added to a variety of dishes. For example, you can use them in soups, stews, salads, or stir-fries. It can also be used as an alternative for kale or collard greens in dishes such as mashed potatoes.
The following recipes include mustard greens:
Creamy Mustard Greens With Fried Shallots (2)
For the best results, stir in and sprinkle the crisp shallots over the top. The creamy greens offer a perfect contrast to the meal ensuring a rich and overly crunchy texture.
Here’s how you make it:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 pounds mustard greens, tough stems discarded, and leaves torn
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- Start by heating the olive oil in the pot.
- Once hot, add in the crushed red pepper and onions and cook for about five minutes over moderate heat, constantly stirring until they turn translucent.
- Next, add the greens in batches, then stir each of them until they wilt before adding more.
- Pour in the sock and let the mixture simmer. Cover with a lid and let it cook over moderate-low heat for about 15 minutes until the greens are tender. Drain the greens before returning them to the pot.
- Mix the flour, cayenne pepper, and a sizable pinch of pepper and salt in a bowl. Now add in the shallots, tossing them until they’re well coated with the flour mixture. Remove and transfer to a strainer, shaking to remove any excess flour.
- Add about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a deep skillet and heat before frying the shallots in batches for two minutes in moderate heat until crisp. Transfer them to paper towels to allow them to drain using a slotted spoon.
- Simmer the garlic and cream over low heat in a saucepan for about ten minutes until they’re reduced to a single cup.
- Now strain the cream over the greens allowing them to simmer over moderate heat for five minutes until very thick. Season with pepper and salt.
- Stir in the fried shallots before transferring the mixture to a serving dish. Sprinkle over any remaining shallots and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of foodandwine.com.
Potato And Mustard Greens Salad (12)
If you’re looking to raise your salad game up a notch, then this is for you. This recipe delivers a rich, spicy, and slightly bitter flavor.
Here’s how you make it:
- 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (Thai chile paste) or plain hot sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped cornichons
- 1 cup washed and cut mustard greens
- Start by boiling the potatoes and garlic in a large pot of salted water for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they turn just tender. Drain then let it cool at room temperature before discarding the garlic.
- In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, mayonnaise, olive oil, and sambal oelek until they’re well mixed. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
- Chop the cooled potatoes roughly into a large bowl. Add in the mustard greens, cornichons, and mayonnaise mixture before tossing to coat.
- Cover and set it aside in a refrigerator for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of allrecipes.com.
Simple Sauteed Mustard Greens (14)
Simple, easy, and tasty. This recipe will leave you craving for seconds and third!
Here’s how you make it:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches mustard greens, stemmed and chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
- Add the oil to a large pan having straight sides and heat over medium heat before adding in the garlic. Saute until the garlic becomes fragrant, softened, and has infused the oil.
- Now add in the mustard green before seasoning with salt and pepper. Continue sauteing while tossing to wilt.
- Once the greens are perfectly wilted, add the chicken stock and stir. Turn up the heat and let it simmer before lowering the heat. Let it cook for an extra five minutes.
- Stir in the ground mustard and serve warm.
This recipe is courtesy of foodnetwork.com.
The Bottom Line
Mustard greens are a very healthy and nutritious green that can be added to just about any dish. Although mustard greens have been associated with some side effects, they can easily be avoided by following proper preparation techniques.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Association Between Usual Vitamin K Intake and Anticoagulation in Patients Under Warfarin Therapy (2015, nih.gov)
- Creamy Mustard Greens with Fried Shallots (2006, foodandwine.com)
- Cruciferous vegetables and Cancer Prevention (2012, cancer.gov)
- Dietary Fiber, Gut Microbiota, and Metabolic Regulation – Current Status in Human Randomized Trials (2020, nih.gov)
- Dietary oxalate and kidney stone formation (2018, nih.gov)
- Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging (2012, nih.gov)
- Effects of High-Fiber Diets and macronutrient Substitution on Bloating: Findings From the OmniHeart Trial (2020, nih.gov)
- Mustard Greens, Raw (2019, usda.gov)
- Mustard Greens: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More (2020, webmd.com)
- Nutrients for the aging eye (2013, nih.gov)
- Nutrition and Immunity (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Potato and Mustard Greens Salad (n.d., allrecipes.com)
- Purine-rich foods foods intake and recurrent gout attacks (2014 nih.gov)
- Simple Sauteed Mustard Greens (n.d., foodnetwork.com)
- Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Treatment (2019, usda.gov)
- Use of Mustard Seed Footbaths for Respiratory Tract Infections: A Pilot Study (2020, nih.gov)
- Vitamin A and Pregnancy: A Narrative Review (2019, nih.gov)