Mustering Enthusiasm for Mustard Greens

Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region, where they been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years. Mustard greens are popular in many different cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Southern American. Like turnip greens, kale, and collards, they became an integral part of Southern cuisine during the times of slavery, serving as a substitute for the greens that were an essential part of Western African diets.

Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant, Brassica juncea. Their many varieties each have distinct characteristics. Most mustard greens are emerald green in color, while some are shades of dark red or deep purple. The leaves of mustard greens can be either crumpled or flat and may have either toothed, scalloped, frilled, or lacy edges. In addition to providing nutritious greens, this plant also produces the seeds that are used as a spice and to make prepared mustard, such as Dijon, brown, and yellow.

Mustard greens have a pungent, peppery flavor. Although they are available throughout the year, they are in season from November through April when they are at their best and most readily available.

Mustard greens are very low in calories (26 calories per 100 grams of raw leaves) and fats. However, they contain a very good amount of fiber that helps control cholesterol level by interfering with its absorption in your digestive tract. Additionally, adequate fiber offers protection from hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases. Mustard greens contain of many phytochemicals that promote health and prevent disease. One hundred grams of fresh mustard greens contain about 497 µg or about 500% of daily requirement of vitamin K-1 (phylloquinone). Vitamin K has found to have a potential role in bone mass building function by promoting osteo-trophic activity in the bone. It also has established role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Fresh mustard greens are also a very good source of folate: 100 grams provide about 187 µg (about 47% of RDA) of folate. Mustard greens are rich source of anti-oxidant flavonoids, indoles, sulforaphane, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. Consumption of flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Indoles, mainly di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane have proven benefits against prostate, breast, colon and ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

Fresh mustard greens are an excellent source of vitamin-C, with 100 grams providing 70 µg or about 117% of RDA. Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful natural anti-oxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections. Mustard greens are also excellent sources of carotenoids. One cup of cooked mustard greens provides just 21 calories, 443 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) for all forms of provitamin A, 885 micrograms of retinol equivalents (RE) for total carotenoids, 5312 micrograms of beta-carotene, 8247 of lutein and zeaxanthin, for a total of 8852 International Units (IUs) of vitamin-A, which is 177% of Daily Value (DV).

Fresh mustard greens are an excellent source of several essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Regular consumption of mustard greens can help you prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, and colon and prostate cancers.

Nutrients in 1 Cup Cooked Mustard Greens

Nutrient %Daily Value
Vitamin K 524.1%
Vitamin A 177%
Vitamin C 59%
Folate 25.5%
Manganese 19%
Fiber 11.2%
Calcium 10.3%
Tryptophan 9.3%
Potassium 8%
Vitamin B6 7%
Protein 6.3%
Copper 6%
Phosphorus 5.7%
Iron 5.4%
Vitamin B2 5.2%
Magnesium 5.2%
Vitamin B1 4%
niacin 3%
Calories (21) 1%

Young mustard greens make great additions to salads. Adding chopped mustard greens to a pasta salad gives it a little kick. Combine chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, pasta, and mustard greens tossed with a little of your favorite dressing.

Rinse mustard greens under cold running water and cut into 1/2″ slices for quick and even cooking. Sprinkle with lemon juice and let them sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking to help activate their myrosinase enzymes and increase formation of beneficial isothiocyanates in the greens.

Heat 5 tablespoons of vegetable broth or water in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add mustard greens, cover, and sauté for 5 minutes. Toss with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 medium clove garlic (pressed or chopped), salt and black pepper to taste. Serve topped with chopped walnuts, if desired.


This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this blog to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

24 thoughts on “Mustering Enthusiasm for Mustard Greens

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