Health Benefits of Mustard Greens

Looking to mix up your leafy green vegetable intake? Take a look at mustard greens!

A vertical close up picture of mustard greens growing in the garden in the bright sunshine. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

This peppery plant brings a unique flavor and vital nutrition to any meal.

Here’s everything we’ll cover in this article:

What Are Mustard Greens?

Mustard greens are similar to kale and collard greens, which are all a part of the Brassica genus.

Brassica juncea, or brown mustard, is commonly grown for its seeds. These can be used whole in cooking, or ground to make – you guessed it – brown mustard, a tasty and beloved condiment.

A close up of a wooden scoop with yellow mustard seeds on a countertop, on a soft focus background.

Beyond the seeds, the leaves of this plant can also be eaten. They offer a similar peppery, bitter bite as the spicy sandwich spread you know and love.

These leafy greens are generally steamed or sauteed, which helps to lower the level of spiciness.

A close up of bright green leafy vegetables, lightly steamed.

They can also be prepared similarly to collard greens with added bacon, added to a casserole, or braised with some apple cider vinegar.

The leaves can also be eaten raw, adding some spice to a salad or a homemade pesto. You could even try mustard green chips as a snack, with this recipe from our sister site Foodal.

Nutritional Composition

They can spice things up for your taste buds, and improve your nutrient intake! They are considered a nutrient-dense food, meaning that they bring a lot of nutrition to the table relative to the amount of calories they contain.

A close up of green leaves set on a wooden chopping board in the kitchen on a dark soft focus background.

One cup of cooked leaves contains only 36 calories, but it provides 17 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults, 8 percent of daily phosphorus needs, nearly 100 percent of vitamin A, and over 8 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K.

Health Benefits

That’s a lot of power for a little leaf! This nutrient density helps to bring us many health benefits.

Much of the vitamin A comes from the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help to support our retinas. Lutein may also potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers, like colon and breast cancer.

A close up of large leafy green plants growing in the garden with dark green leaves and white veins. To the right of the frame is a soil path.

Vitamin A also helps with cell reproduction and differentiation such as, for example, being necessary for the process that makes a hair cell different from a skin cell.

Vitamin K is notably high in these veggies. This vitamin is most commonly known for its role in blood clotting. Many people on blood-thinning medications are asked to limit their vitamin K intake. Ask your doctor for any specific recommendations.

Aside from clotting, vitamin K also helps with bone formation and regulation of certain enzymes. Vitamin K is unique because it is not only found in our diet, but can be produced by bacteria in the gut as well.

They also provide some fiber, which we know aids with digestion and helps us to feel more full.

Selected Cultivars

Ready to reap these benefits for yourself? If you’re looking to grow your own, there are several cultivars to choose from.

A close up of 'Southern Giant Curled' growing in the garden.

‘Southern Giant Curled’

Try this ‘Southern Giant Curled’ option from Burpee for a classic spicy flavor, or these ‘Tendergreen’ seeds, from Eden Brothers, for a milder taste.

A close up of the large purple leaves of 'Red Giant' growing in the garden in bright sunshine.

‘Giant Red’

For something really unique, check out this ‘Giant Red’ Japanese variety, also from Burpee.

Mustard Magic

These leafy veggies are available in several different varieties and all of them offer a plethora of health benefits, making them, dare I say, magical.

A close up of mustard green plants growing in the garden with large leaves, pictured with light droplets of water on the foliage.

Which ways will you bring this special flavor to your table? Drop a comment below with your most magical mustard green ideas.

For more information about growing leafy greens in the vegetable garden, take a look at these articles next:

  • What Are the Health Benefits of Homegrown Collard Greens?
  • 7 of the Best Collard Greens Varieties to Grow at Home
  • How to Harvest Beet Greens

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Eden Brothers. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

The contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Tori Vallana, RD, LDN

Tori Vallana is a registered dietitian with a passion for making food and nutrition simple. She holds an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts as well as a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. Tori loves perusing her local farmers market to find high-quality produce and encourages her patients to do the same!

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