Mustard Greens…Just the mention of the name brings an involuntary response of YUCK. But…is that fair? Have you actually given them a fair try? Have you only seen them boiled to the consistency of cow cud? We certainly hope so, because I am here to tell you not only why you WANT to eat these delicious leafy green, but how to actually enjoy it.
The crispy, leafy tops gathered from the mustard plant while it is small, tender and short of reaching flowering stage. Leaf-mustards belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.
When we think of Georgia agriculture, Vidalias, chickens and peanuts are bound to be what come stop mind. But did you know that the Georgia crops are very versatile, and are on the incline, thanks to favorable climate and soil conditions, and many beneficial program initiatives through the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Grown, the USDA, University of Georgia and countless county and local agencies and organizations. This means that it is amazingly easy for us to support our Georgia farmers and producers, with a wide variety of products. Georgia produces 42% of ALL fresh greens consumed in the United States. That’s about $42 million dollars. In greens. Fresh Georgia Turnip Greens can be found from Fall to Winter to mid Spring.
So now that we know about our economic benefits, what about the healthy benefits? Peppery, crispy mustard greens, also known as leaf mustards, are indeed one of the most nutritious green leafy vegetables available around in the winter months. Its lovely top greens, indeed, possess more vitamin-A, K, carotenes, and flavonoid antioxidants than some of the typical fruits and vegetables.
|Mustard greens. Note for the bright green broad leaves with serrated margins. (Photo: nataliemaynor)|
Health benefits of mustard greens
- Mustard greens, like spinach, are the storehouse of many phytonutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.
- Leaf-mustard is very low in calories (27 calories per 100 g raw leaves) and fats. However, its dark-green leaves carry ample amounts of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, it contains a very good amount of dietary fiber that helps control cholesterol level by interfering with its absorption in the gut. Adequate fiber in the food aids in smooth bowel movements and thereby offers protection from hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.
- The greens are excellent sources of vitamin-K. 100 g of fresh leaves carry about 257.5 µg or about 215% of daily requirement of vitamin K-1 (phylloquinone). Vitamin-K has been found to have a potential role in bone mass building function by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bone. It also has an established role to play in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
- Mustard greens are a rich source of antioxidant like flavonoids, indoles, sulforaphane, carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin. 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 leaves are also a modest source of the B-complex group of vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin, riboflavin, etc. 100 g fresh leaves provide about 12 µg (about 3% of RDA) of folic acid. This water-soluble vitamin has a significant role in DNA synthesis, and cell division. When supplemented to women during their peri-conception time, this vitamin may help prevent neural tube defects in their newborn babies.
- Fresh mustard leaves are excellent sources of vitamin-C. 100 of fresh leaves provide 70 µg or about 117% of RDA. Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful natural antioxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections.
- Mustard leaves are also incredible sources of vitamin-A (provide 3024 IU or 101% of RDA per 100 g). Vitamin-A is an essential nutrient required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- 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 in the diet is known to prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia and believed to offer protection from cardiovascular diseases, asthma and colon and prostate cancers.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.42 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||3.20 g||9%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.210 mg||5%|
|Vitamin A||3024 IU||101%|
|Vitamin C||70 mg||117%|
|Vitamin E||0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin K||257.5 µg||215%|
Preparation and serving methods
Before cooking, wash its leaves thoroughly in clean running water to remove sand and soil and then rinse in saline water for about 30 minutes in order to remove surface dust, any residues. Trim away thick petioles and stems.
Here are some serving tips:
- Fresh tender mustard greens can be eaten raw in salads and can be juiced with other greens and vegetables.
- Mustard greens can be added or exchanged for any other green in soups and casseroles.
- In South Asian cuisines, mustard is generally stew fried or steam cooked and mixed with other greens such as spinach, fenugreek, etc. Its pungent, peppery flavor is somewhat tamed by adding butter, tomato, garlic and onionto the recipes.
- This green also mixes well with ham, pork, and bacon.
Here are two favorite ways we use our fresh Georgia Grown Mustard Greens- Braised Mustard Greens and Slow Cooker Southern Turnip Greens. This Mustard Greens Smoothie is a great way to get your vitamins and minerals!
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This post compiled and created by Tisha Johnson Matthews, of Sweet Basil Farm & Gardens. Special thanks to J. David Matthews, of Barnesville, Georgia for support and patience with all that I try and test. To see other fantastic recipes, or to find more healthy and delicious recipes, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Social Media.