Obtained from the mustard plants, mustard seeds are small round seeds that are black, brown or yellow in color. Belonging to the Brassica family, these seeds come from Brassica Nigra or the black mustard, Brassica Juncea1 or the brown mustard and Brassica Hirta/Sinapis Alba or the yellow mustard. The mustard seeds are used mainly as condiments or are used as it is. As it requires a temperate climate, mustard is majorly grown in Canada, Hungary, Great Britain, India, Pakistan and U.S.A.
The black mustard seeds are usually more pungent than the yellow and brown mustard seeds. The yellow mustard seeds are mild and are used to make American yellow mustard. The brown mustard has a pungent and bitter taste and is normally used to make Dijon mustard. The edible mustard oil is obtained from the mustard seeds. The leaves of the mustard plants are also edible and are used in various cuisines. Due to the several health benefits of mustard, it has been widely used in Indian sub-continent, Mediterranean and German cuisines.
Why is mustard beneficial or unique?
There are numerous health benefits of mustard as it is rich in phytonutrients like glucosinolates and is also rich in selenium, magnesium, omega3 fatty acids and phosphorus. By consuming every 4gms of mustard, you receive 20.32 calories, 8.32 mcg of selenium, 0.10mg of manganese, 0.11g of omega-3fats, 14.80 mg of magnesium, 33.12 mg of phosphorus and 0.01 g of tryptophan.
The mustard seeds contain a special enzyme called the myrosinase enzyme3 that helps in breaking down glucosinolates into other phytonutrients like isothiocyanates. They are also good source of certain B-complex vitamins.
Health Benefits of Mustard
The health benefits of mustard are innumerable and have been proved by different researches conducted in different parts of the world. The plentiful amount of phytonutrients, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fats present in mustard seeds have made them highly beneficial for maintaining a good health.
Benefits against Cancer : Mustard seeds are rich in phytonutrients like glucosinolates which are further converted to isothiocyanates with the help of myrosinase enzyme. These isothiocyanates are defensive against gastrointestinal cancers. Various researches and studies have shown that isothiocyanates restrain the growth of the present cancer cells and successfully fight further formation of such cells.
Benefits for heart : Mustard is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are helpful in reducing the cholesterol levels which in turn is beneficial for the heart. It also contains dietary fiber that helps in maintaining cholesterol levels and helps in weight reduction. The mustard seeds are also a good source of niacin which helps in lowering the cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of mustard is also known to lower blood pressure, speed up metabolism and guard against atherosclerosis.
Benefits against inflammation : Mustard is a rich source of selenium and magnesium which possess anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps in reducing the symptoms for such diseases.
Benefits for the immune system : The anti-fungal and antiseptic properties in mustard provide a boost to the immune system. The body becomes better equipped to fight against disease causing germs.
Benefits against migraines : Regular consumption of mustard seeds is excellent protection against migraine headaches5. It has been found that frequency of migraine headaches are reduced when seeds are used regularly in cooking.
Benefits against respiratory problems : When paste of mustard is applied on the chest, several respiratory and lung problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia can be cured. On application, the paste burns a little. If the burning sensation is excess, the paste can be removed.
Benefits in healing wounds : The antiseptic properties of mustard make it an excellent remedy for healing wounds. Mustard paste can be applied on the wound and the wound can then be covered with gauze. Wound heals early and there is no risk of any other kind of infection too after applying mustard paste on them. In addition, mustard is used in the preparation of cold compress, which is very useful in relieving aches and pains in different parts of the body.
Benefits against asthma : The minerals selenium and magnesium are present in mustard seeds in abundance. These minerals are highly beneficial for asthma patients as they considerably reduce the severity of this disease.
Benefits for digestion : Being rich source of magnesium, the mustard seeds speed up the metabolism process, thereby, improving the complete digestion process.
Benefits for women suffering from menopause : The selenium and magnesium present in the mustard seeds helps in stabilizing the disturbed sleep patterns of women undergoing menopause.
Benefits against rheumatism and arthritis : With the presence of certain health benefitting minerals like selenium and magnesium, it becomes highly beneficial for patients suffering from rheumatism and arthritis.
Benefits against flu : When hot water is poured over crushed black mustard seeds it is said to ward off any signs of flu and also relieves headaches.
Benefits against Hair fall : Oil extracted from mustard seed is beneficial in conditioning hair, attaining longer tresses and preventing hair fall. Its antioxidant property due to presence of high selenium protects hair from environmental damage, thus preventing hair loss. Mustard seed oil is said to be rich in proteins, which thus aids in hair growth.
Other Health Benefits
Mustard seeds also possess anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. The presence of certain B-complex vitamins helps in enzyme synthesis, proper functioning of the nervous system and boosting up the metabolism process. It is also instrumental in healing common diseases like cold, chest congestion and headaches. It is also used to induce vomiting for patients who have been accidentally poisoned.
Usage, Selection and Storage of Mustard
Mustard seeds are usually used as condiments. They are either grounded to a fine powder or are used in their normal form. The mustard seeds can also be roasted and used in various dishes. The dried mustard powder or the seeds do not possess any smell. It gets its pungency and spiciness only after it is mixed with water as this enhances the enzymatic process. However, the heat and the bitterness can easily be balanced by adding few drops of hot water, vinegar or any other acidic substance. It is also used to prepare American yellow mustard and Dijon mustard. Mustard oil derived by compressing the mustard seeds is used in cooking and it also has certain beneficial properties. Normally superior quality of mustard is available in all regular markets but the best quality would be the organic mustards.
The dry mustard seeds and mustard powder should be stored in airtight containers to retain their freshness and to maintain the health benefits of mustard. Mustard paste and oil should be refrigerated.
When not to use mustard
Mustard seeds are not known to produce any kind of allergies and they do not contain oxalates and purines. They do not pose any health hazards when taken in moderation, but can bring out health issues if taken in large quantities. Large amount of mustard intake can cause gastric annoyance, internal bleeding in the stomach and intestinal mucosa. Mustard pastes applied on skin for a long time can cause skin burns. Erucic acid present in mustard is found to have genotaxic and carcinogenic effects on animals.
Being a storehouse to many vital minerals and vitamins, the health benefits of mustard are innumerable. To gain maximum health benefits of mustard, you should definitely include it in your diet. However, use it in moderation to make the most of it.