Mustard Greens Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Mustard greens annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

You're probably familiar with mustard, the condiment. Like the condiment, mustard greens can also impart a peppery, spicy flavor when used in salads and other dishes. Like other dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, mustard greens deliver lots of nutritive value along with their flavor. They are very low in calories, but full of micronutrients like vitamins A, C, and K and important minerals such as calcium and manganese.

Mustard greens are simply the leafy part of the mustard plant. Some people describe the greens' flavor as similar to the condiment's. But there are so many varieties of the condiment that it can be hard to make a comparison. It is unlikely, however, that you'll taste the familiar flavor of yellow mustard when you consume the greens. The condiment includes many ingredients (such as sodium) that affect the taste.

Mustard Greens Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (56g) of raw, chopped mustard greens.

  • Calories: 15
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Carbohydrates: 2.6g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 0.7g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Vitamin C: 39mg
  • Vitamin K: 144mcg

Carbs

Mustard greens are a very low-calorie food that provides your body with energy primarily in the form of complex carbohydrates. If you consume one cup of chopped mustard greens, you'll get just under 3 grams of carbohydrate. You'll benefit from nearly 2 grams of fiber and just under 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar. 

There are no published studies regarding the glycemic index of mustard greens. However, the glycemic load of a one-cup serving is estimated to be about 1. Glycemic load takes into account the serving size of a given food or beverage to estimate the effect of a food on your blood sugar. It is considered to be more helpful than just using the glycemic index for people who are choosing foods based on the effects on their blood glucose.

Fats

There is almost no fat in mustard greens—only 0.2 grams per serving.

Protein

Each one-cup serving of mustard greens provides your body with 1.6 grams of protein, so it is not a significant source of this macronutrient.

Vitamins and Minerals

Mustard greens provide several key vitamins and minerals. One serving offers a whopping 348% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 34% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A

Mustard greens also provide vitamin C. A one-cup serving gives you 65% of your total recommended daily intake (if you consume a 2,000 calorie per day diet). Mustard greens are also an excellent source of folate.

When you consume mustard greens, you'll also get vitamin E, thiamin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin. Mustard greens are a good source of manganese. Other minerals in mustard greens include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium, and sodium.

Health Benefits

Like other dark, leafy greens, mustard greens are a smart, healthy addition to your diet, with many valuable nutrients.

Improves Heart Health

Studies have shown that increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables, like mustard greens, may be able to reduce your risk for several types of cardiovascular disease. In addition, replacing starchy or empty-calorie foods with these types of vegetables can help you to manage your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. 

Promotes Bone Health

Mustard greens are loaded with vitamin K, a fat-soluble micronutrient that boosts bone health. A vitamin K deficiency may put you at greater risk for osteoporosis.

Supports the Immune System

Just one serving of mustard greens provides a third of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. In addition to promoting good vision and healthy skin, vitamin A is important for immune system function (it's sometimes called the "anti-inflammation vitamin"). Mustard greens also contain a healthy amount of vitamin C, which also improves immune function.

Protects Cells From Damage

The vitamin C in mustard greens also provides benefits. The vitamin acts as an antioxidant to protect cells in your body from free-radical damage. Vitamin C also helps your body to absorb iron—an important mineral needed for a healthy body.

Plays a Role in Traditional Medicine

Some people use certain types of mustard and mustard greens for medicinal purposes. Typically it is black mustard or black mustard greens (Brassica nigra) that are used for ailments ranging from the common cold to rheumatism and osteoarthritis. Black mustard seed is sometimes also taken as a diuretic, an appetite stimulant, or to induce vomiting. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of mustard greens for these uses.

Allergies

Mustard allergies are not uncommon, however, much of the published literature refers to mustard seed rather than mustard greens. Still, other foods derived from the mustard plant including mustard leaves, seeds, and flowers, sprouted mustard seeds, mustard oil, and foods that contain these items are likely to cause reactions in people with mustard allergy.

Symptoms of a mustard allergy may be mild or severe. They generally come on shortly after consuming the mustard product. You may experience a rash or a tingly, itchy feeling in the mouth. Difficulty breathing is also possible. If you suspect a mustard allergy, seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider. 

Adverse Effects

Because vitamin K helps regulate blood clotting, people who take certain blood thinners need to consume consistent amounts of vitamin-K rich foods, such as mustard greens and other dark, leafy greens. The right amount of dietary vitamin K intake varies from person to person, so if you are taking blood thinners, discuss your diet with your doctor.

Varieties

Many grocery stores carry mustard greens in the produce section because their popularity has increased. There are several nutritious varieties of mustard greens; the most common is called Brassica juncea. You may see bright green mustard greens (such as Florida broadleaf mustard) or deep purple greens (like ruby streaks mustard greens). There are also curly varieties of mustard greens.

When It's Best

Mustard greens are a cool-weather crop, but you can likely find them in your supermarket all year round. Look for fresh, bright green leaves with few blemishes.

Storage and Food Safety

Store mustard greens in the refrigerator the same way that you would store other fresh greens. You can wash your greens immediately when you bring them home from the market. Some experts recommend that you store them in the refrigerator in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap or in a sealed plastic bag with a paper towel inside.

The paper towel helps to absorb and reduce moisture from the leaves so your mustard greens stay fresh and crunchy. Your greens may stay fresh for three to five days. Since greens can be contaminated with bacteria, it's important to wash them thoroughly. Cooking also helps kill bacteria.

How to Prepare

You can use mustard greens in the same way that you would use other types of leafy greens, such as spinach or kale. Keep in mind, however, that mustard greens cook more quickly than other greens like kale and collards. You can also toss them into a salad, blend into a smoothie, or sauté them and enjoy with eggs or fish. 

Recipes

Healthy Mustard Greens Recipes to Try

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