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All about “Mustard”

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Health profile

Even though it is better known as a condiment, mustard is a plant with edible seeds and leaves. Mustard belongs to the large cruciferous family, just like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. The best known species are white (or yellow), black and brown mustards and they are all cultivated in Canada. This fact sheet will mainly deal with these three mustard species.

Active ingredients and properties

Prepared mustard The prepared
mustard that we usually consume does not owe its bright yellow color to the choice of seeds, but rather to the turmeric added to it. Turmeric is a spice known for its anticancer properties 17 . Note, however, that the amount of prepared mustard that we use, for example in a sandwich, does not by itself allow us to reach the quantities of turmeric to consume in order to benefit from its health effects. In addition, the consumption of prepared mustard contributes to our daily sodium intake. Indeed, 15 ml of mustard provides about 12% of the daily sodium requirement . To this is added the sodium contained in the cold meats that it often accompanies …

Glucosinolates . These compounds are mainly found in cruciferous plants, including seeds and mustard greens. Glucosinolates are biologically inactive, but when the food undergoes physical changes (e.g. chopped, chewed), glucosinolates come into contact with an enzyme called myrosinase, which is present in the food. Glucosinolates can then transform into active molecules called isothiocyanates  : several of these molecules would help to limit the development of cancer 1-3. Cooking reduces the activity of myrosinase, decreasing the possibility of transforming glucosinolates into active compounds. However, the intestinal bacterial flora can also transform glucosinolates into isothiocyanates , 4 , which could partially compensate for the loss of myrosinase activity in cooked foods.

The mustard greens flood contain from 120 mg to 550 mg / 100 g of glucosinolates, which class among the highest sources compared to many other cruciferous 5 . For example, 100 g of mustard greens would contain four to six times more glucosinolates than the same amount of broccoli and cauliflower. The mustard seeds brown 6-8 and the prepared mustard from them (such Dijon mustard and English) 9.10 also contain glucosinolates, but it is difficult to compare their respective amounts given different methods of analysis used to calculate them. Theprepared mustard that we usually eat is obtained from white and black mustard seeds, but its glucosinolate content has not been evaluated.

Antioxidants . Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body. The latter are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging 11 . The yellow mustard seeds are at the eighth with respect to their antioxidant content from over 1000 foods analyzed 12 (calculated from 100 g of food). Since a usual portion of mustard seeds is rather around 3 g and these are not consumed very commonly, they contribute less than other foods to our daily intake of antioxidants. Interestingly, even though mustard seeds contain about ten times more antioxidants than prepared mustard, the latter must still be in the list of 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content per 100 g. For comparison, a 5 ml serving of prepared mustard contains 20 times less antioxidants than half a cup of cranberries and five times less than half a cup of broccoli, which are foods known for their antioxidant potential Student. The mustard greenshave also shown some antioxidant activity, probably due to their content of carotenoids and other compounds that remain to be characterized 13 .

  • Carotenoids . Carotenoids are also compounds with antioxidant properties. The consumption of foods rich in carotenoids is linked to a lower risk of developing certain cancers 14 . Different carotenoids have been detected in the leaves of brown mustard 15 , the main ones being beta-carotene , lutein and zeaxanthin . Moreover, the mustard greens contribute significantly to the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin among women in the United States 16 .

Other properties

Is mustard antioxidant? Highly  : the TAC index of 5 g of yellow mustard seeds is 1,463 µmol.
Is mustard acidifying? No data available
Does mustard have a high glycemic load? No data available

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Folate . The leaf mustard are an excellent source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.

 Vitamin C . The leaf mustard are an excellent source of vitamin C for women and a good source for the man , needs this vitamin are different. The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.

 Vitamin A . The leaf mustard are an excellent source of beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is one of the most versatile vitamins, participating in several functions of the body. It promotes, among other things, the growth of bones and teeth. It keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision, especially in the dark.

 Vitamin K . The leaf mustard are an excellent source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis (manufacture) of proteins that works to blood clotting (as much stimulation as inhibiting blood clotting). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in food, vitamin K is manufactured by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

 Manganese . The leaf mustard are a good source of manganese for women and a source for the rights , needs in this mineral are different. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Calcium . Mustard greens are a source of calcium. Calcium is by far the most abundant mineral in the body. It is mainly stored in the bones, of which it is an integral part. It contributes to the formation of bones and teeth, as well as to the maintenance of their health. Calcium also plays an essential role in blood clotting, maintenance of blood pressure and contraction of muscles (including the heart).

 Magnesium . Mustard greens are a source of magnesium for women only, with men having higher requirements for this mineral. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Iron . Mustard greens are a source of iron for men only, with women having higher requirements for this mineral. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in food of plant origin (such as mustard greens) is less absorbed by the body than the iron contained in food of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored when consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

 Copper . Mustard greens are a source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Selenium . Mustard seeds are a source of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps convert thyroid hormones to their active form.

 Vitamin B2 . Mustard greens are a source of vitamin B2. This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.

 Vitamin B6 . Mustard greens are a source of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

 Vitamin E . Mustard greens are a source of vitamin E. A major antioxidant, vitamin E protects the membrane that surrounds cells in the body, especially red and white blood cells (cells of the immune system).

What is a “portion” of mustard worth?
Weight / volume Prepared yellow mustard, 5 g (5 ml) Yellow mustard seeds, 3 g (5 ml) Raw mustard greens, chopped, 59 g (250 ml)
Calories 3 16 15
Protein 0.2g 0.8g 1.6g
Carbohydrates 0.4 g 1.2g 2.9 g
Fat 0.2g 1.0 g 0.1g
Dietary fiber 0.2g 0.5 g 2.0 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.

Consumed in small portions, the prepared mustard provides few nutrients. On the other hand, a 30 ml portion of prepared mustard proves to be a good source of selenium, a good source of iron for men and a source of iron for women.


Vitamin K and anticoagulants
The mustard leaf contains a high amount of vitamin K. This vitamin, which is necessary among other things for blood clotting, can be produced by the body in addition to being found in certain foods. People taking anticoagulant drugs, such as those marketed under the names Coumadin®, Warfilone® and Sintrom®, should eat a diet in which the vitamin K content is relatively stable from day to day. The portion consumed of mustard leaf should not exceed 250 ml (1 cup) if it is raw, or about 60 ml (¼ cup) if it is cooked.

Mustard over time

The term ”  mustard  “, which appeared in the French language at the beginning of XIII th  century, comes from ‘  wort  ‘, by reference to the fact that at that time was preparing the condiment in the grinding with the wine must to lessen the spiciness. The Romans called the preparation mustem ardens , literally “hot must”. In French, the plant itself originally bore the name ”  mustard  ” or ”  Sanve  ” these words are derived from Latin sinapis , formerly assigned to the mustard. From there also comes ”  sinapism  “, a term which designates the mustard poultice, also called mustard fly.

The term “  mustard  ” designates horseradish, a plant very close to mustard and which is used in similar culinary preparations.

”  Mustard maker  ” means the small earthen pot in which the mustard is put to serve it at the table, as well as the manufacturer or the merchant of mustard.

Along with pepper, mustard is perhaps the most famous condiment plant in the world, and the oldest consumed. It is believed that our prehistoric ancestors chewed mustard seeds at the same time as they ate meat. This habit of consuming meat and mustard together, which will never be denied, could have been born the day when some cook from the ancient world discovered that it was a good way to camouflage the unpleasant flavor of spoiled meat.

Belonging to the vast and complex cruciferous family, mustard is generally available in three species, namely B. juncea (rushed, brown, Indian or Chinese), B. nigra (black) and B. hirta or alba (yellow or white) . The first would come from Central Asia and more specifically from North-West India, but its main center of diversification would be China where many varieties have been created. It has been cultivated for centuries in many places in Eurasia.

The origin of the second remains unclear, although it is believed to come from the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. It has spread throughout Central and Western Europe as well as in various other regions with a temperate climate. The third, which originates from the Mediterranean basin and the Crimea, has been introduced in many places in the world where it is now naturalized, particularly in the fields of cereals and flax.

Cultivated since at least Greek Antiquity, mustard was, in Roman times, prepared more or less as it is today, either by pounding the seeds with honey, oil and vinegar. In all cultures, it has been widely used for its medicinal properties, some of which are still recognized today. This is the case with the mustard fly (poultice based on mustard flour), which the Romans already knew and which is still popular in campaigns to treat colds and bronchial conditions, as well as as a repellent on the joints painful. In the kitchen, the ancients used seeds as a spice and leaves as a vegetable. It was also used to preserve food:

Today, it is grown in many places on the planet and each country has developed its specific condiment (s). The specialist shops offer mustards from France, Germany, Sweden, England and various countries in the East. Made with wine, vinegar or beer, sweetened with honey, maple syrup or sugar-free, flavored with tarragon or herbs, they are more and more sophisticated. There are even some that are made the old way, that is to say with verjuice, an acidic liquid from immature grapes. We add berries (blackcurrant, raspberry, etc.) or dried tomatoes, peppers and spices, even seaweed, they are colored yellow (turmeric), green (fine herbs) or they take on the color of the berries that accompany them. However, some purists prefer to stick to the traditional Dijon and Meaux mustards, which they can always add to their taste.

Note that the seeds of various species give an edible oil, commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Culinary uses

Choose well

Black and brown mustard seeds are not available everywhere, unlike those of yellow mustard. It may be necessary to contact a merchant specializing in spices (a “grocer” in the true sense of the term).

Mustard greens are rare in western grocery stores, but can be found in all oriental grocery stores as well as in some public markets. Young leaves are significantly less pungent than older ones and are better for salads. Taste before adding to a salad.

Culinary dishes

Leaves (green and red)

  • Cut in chiffonade and added at the end of cooking to the clear broths.
  • Add one or two mustard greens to burgers and hot dogs.
  • Add them to other greens in the salad . Or serve them alone, garnished with a finely minced hard-boiled egg and drizzled with a sweet vinaigrette.
  • Steam them withered and serve them with a little butter, along with the meat . Or with sesame oil and soy sauce.
  • Cook them with pork or salted bacon or add them to soups and stews.
  • Sauté them Chinese-style with Chinese cabbage, soybeans, snow peas, mushrooms and chopped ginger and serve with rice. You can add finely minced chicken or beef.
  • Use them in the quiche instead of broccoli or spinach.
  • Stuff with pancakes that will be served with a cream sauce.
  • Make a green sauce that will be served over pasta. To do this, pass them in a blender with butter, olive oil and a few cloves of garlic, reheat and serve.
  • Cook the mature leaves the South way , with a little lemon, a drop of vinegar and diced bacon.
  • In Asia, the ribs of varieties with brown or red leaves are macerated for three or four days in the refrigerator in a vinegar preparation.


  • Coat the roasting meats with a thick layer of mustard before putting them in the oven. The condiment will give an interesting flavor to the meat, but above all, it will keep its juice and prevent it from drying out. You can also sprinkle meats with mustard powder before cooking.
  • Provençal tomatoes : cut small tomatoes in half and cover the cut side with a mixture of Meaux mustard, minced savory, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and serve as a starter.
  • Rabbit with mustard: the rabbit is roasted in the oven, then topped with a sauce made up of white wine reduced to two thirds, cream and mustard.
  • Rabbit English ( English rabbit)  : this dish, despite its name, contains no rabbit. Sprinkle bread slices with wine and spread with butter. Grill them on both sides. Heat grated cheese, butter, wine and mustard on low heat until cheese is melted. Mix and pour over the slice of bread. In the Wales version ( Welsh rarebit or rabbit ), beer replaces wine and a Worcestershire fillet is added to the preparation.
  • The salads are very well accommodate a mustard vinaigrette, particularly salads cherry tomatoes.
  • In sauces , mayonnaises, relish, chutneys and other condiments.
  • In the remoulade sauce , to accompany celeriac.


  • The seeds of brown mustard are used in Indian cuisine for the preparation of curries, garam masala and other mixtures. Sauté them dry in a pan so that they release all their flavor.
  • They perfectly flavor marinated pickles .
  • Cook them with the cabbage or sauerkraut .
  • You can pound mustard seeds yourself with wine vinegar or with wine and add the herbs of your choice to this homemade condiment . Why not try a mustard with three seeds (white, brown, black)? To create a good balance, you should know that the seeds of white mustard are the sweetest, while those of brown mustard are the strongest.
  • medieval book recommends pounding mustard seeds, raisins, dates, pieces of toast and cinnamon in a mortar. Soak the preparation with verjuice or vinegar, strain and use as a condiment.
  • Mustard  sprouts: seeds germinate easily and young shoots of a few days old can be used in salads, sandwiches and various other culinary preparations. In France, it is customary to germinate and consume together young shoots of white mustard and garden cress.


Leaves: they keep for a few days in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen after blanching them.

Condiment and seeds: store in a cool, dry place, away from light. Especially avoid damp places which cause their deterioration.

Organic gardening

Nothing is easier than growing mustard, both for the leaves and the seeds, although in the latter case it will take a lot of space.

It is imperative to practice a good rotation (four years or five years) by not forgetting that all the plants of the cruciferous family (many types of cabbage, turnip, radish, rocket, etc.) are susceptible to the same diseases. Dried beans, sunflowers, soybeans and safflowers are also affected by these diseases and should therefore not be included in the rotation.

Since mustard is not afraid of frost, it can be sown early in the spring for an early harvest or in the middle of the summer for a fall harvest. However, for seed production, sow in the spring to give the plant time to mature (it takes 80 to 85 days for white mustard and 90 to 95 days for other species). Successive sowing throughout the summer will ensure continuous production of young fresh leaves.

Space the rows 30 cm apart and thin the plants from 10 cm to 25 cm (depending on the variety).

pH: more or less 7.

The flea beetle pierces many small holes in the leaves and, in dry and hot years, it can compromise the harvest. Protect the young plants with a geotextile fabric or treat with Safer’s soap.

In wet weather, slugs can be a problem. You can cover the young plants with a geotextile cloth, spread diatoms around the plants, trap the gastropods with beer or chase them with a garlic extract.

Against powdery mildew, a common disease in mustard, treat with Bordeaux mixture.

For salads, harvest the leaves when the plant reaches at most 20 cm. The leaves of more advanced plants should preferably be cooked.

Wait, to harvest the seeds, until they have ripened, without however allowing the stage where the pods will open to drop them. Dry them on newspaper to limit losses.

Ecology and environment

If mustard comes up to farmers, it is not because they breathe it in the fields, but because it is one of the most common weeds, especially in cereal crops. It naturalizes wherever it finds a corner of free land and has the property of retaining its vitality for several years, even decades, so that it can reappear where it was thought to have been eradicated for a long time.

Notwithstanding this bad reputation, it is an extremely useful plant since its roots have the property of “smashing” compact soils and loosening them, thus promoting the growth of plants that will succeed it, notably wheat and barley. In addition, its cultivation has the effect of interrupting the disease cycle in cereals in general. So much so that today we do not hesitate to use it as “green manure” not only in organic farming, but also in conventional farming.

In addition, it is sown in fields which must subsequently receive sugar beet, because it has been discovered that it could considerably reduce the populations of nematodes which infest this plant (up to 65% in certain regions) and which cause a considerable drop in yield. In order to make its crop profitable in places where one is not equipped to harvest the seeds, it is grazed at the end of the season by the lambs, because it has been observed that its consumption by these animals made them gain a significant number of pounds.

In addition, mustard flowers attract bees, which, in addition to pollinating the garden, make honey with nectar whose flavor, contrary to what one might think, is not very pronounced. California also produces an excellent product.

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