Fresh mustard leaves are dark green broad-leafed vegetables that have a flat surface and may have toothed, frilled, or lacy edges. They are a member of the Cruciferae family. They are typically available during winter in Northern India and are famously used in Punjabi cuisine to make a dish called “Sarson ka Saag. Mustard is the second most important crop in India and is widely cultivated in the northern plains, with some cultivation in the east. Mustard greens are a type of leafy green vegetable that are known for their strong and bitter, yet spicy taste. To make them more appealing, they are usually prepared by boiling, steaming, stir-frying, or pickling. Mustard seeds are small and come in brown or yellow varieties, containing up to 45% oil, and they are used commonly in Indian kitchen. This comprehensive article covers everything you need to know about the health benefits of mustard leaves.
Health benefits of mustard leaves
Mustard greens have been linked to potential benefits for heart health, as they are rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and beta carotene, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and mortality. Research indicates that a high intake of leafy green Brassica vegetables, like mustard greens, may lead to a 15% reduction in the risk of heart disease. Similar to other Brassica vegetables, mustard greens contain compounds that assist in binding bile acids in the digestive system, which is crucial for lowering cholesterol levels. Interestingly, steaming mustard greens has been shown in a test-tube study to significantly increase their bile acid binding effect, indicating that consuming steamed mustard greens may have greater potential to lower cholesterol levels compared to eating them raw.
Good for vision
Mustard greens are a good source of vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision. Additionally, these dark leafy greens contain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, that are known to aid in the formation of macular pigment in the eyes. This dietary pigment helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and retinal detachment. Lutein, specifically, is a type of xanthophyll that possesses both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in preventing AMD.
Helps in digestion
Mustard is used as a condiment in India is due to its ability to enhance digestion in three ways. Firstly, it can stimulate appetite and salivation, thus speeding up the initial stages of digestion. Secondly, it can break down fats and meat fibres that may be difficult to digest. Lastly, it can stimulate the production of digestive juices, which aids in completing the digestive process.
Act as an antioxidant
Mustard greens contain antioxidants, which are natural plant compounds that can help protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage and potentially lead to serious chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Mustard greens are a good source of antioxidants, including flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E. Red varieties of mustard greens contain anthocyanins, which are pigments that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Including mustard greens in your diet can help protect against diseases associated with oxidative stress.
Mustards are rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that mustard can cause cancer cells to die in laboratory tests. Mustard leaves grown in selenium-rich areas in India have high levels of selenium, which is an additional beneficial compound. This means that mustard seeds could potentially be used as a natural chemotherapy treatment.
In laboratory tests, mustard leaf extract (MLE) was found to stop the growth of human colon and lung cancer cells and induce cell death. MLE was also effective in stopping the cancer cells from spreading and forming colonies.
High in vitamin K
Mustard greens, whether raw or cooked, are an excellent source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting, heart health, and bone health. Adequate vitamin K intake has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Additionally, some recent studies have suggested that a lack of vitamin K may be linked to impaired brain function, dementia, decreased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mustard is a versatile ingredient that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties. It has several health benefits due to the presence of essential nutrients and anti-cancer compounds. Mustard can be used in various forms, including paste, sauce, oil, and spice. It is an excellent addition to any diet and can add flavour and nutrition to a wide range of dishes.
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