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Mustard seeds nutrition facts

Mustard seeds have been highly prized culinary oil-seeds being in use since earlier times. The seeds are fruit pods obtained from mustard plant, in the Brassica family. Some of close members of mustards in this family include cabbage, broccoli, brussels-sprouts, etc. Scientific name: Brassica juncea.

Mustards are native to Asia Minor, but these days cultivated as one of the main commercial crop in Canada, India, China, and temperate climates of European region.

mustard seeds
Mustard seeds. Note for tiny round, white and brown seeds.
(Photo : by wordridden)

Mustards are winter crops. The plant reaches about 4-5 feet in height and bears golden yellow colored flowers. Its tiny, round seeds measuring about one mm in diameter are encased inside a fruit pod, in a similar fashion like green pea pod.

In general, three main varieties of mustard are grown worldwide for use.

mustard plant
Mustard plant in a farm field. Note for bright yellow colored flowers.
(Photo by: itchys )
  • White mustard seeds (Sinapis alba or Brassica alba): The seeds are light straw-yellow colored and are slightly larger than the other two varieties. White seeds exhibit mild pungency.

  • Black mustards (Brassica nigra): The seeds are commonly seen in South Asia. The seeds are sharp and more pungent than other two varieties.

  • Brown mustards (Brassica juncea): The seeds are native to sub-Himalayan plains of Northern India.

Health benefits of mustard seeds

  • Generally perceived as health benefiting spice, mustard seeds are indeed very rich in phyto-nutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

  • Being one of the chief oil seeds, mustards are indeed very high in calories; 100 g of seeds provide 508 calories. Nonetheless, the seeds are made of quality proteins, essential oils, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

  • The seeds are high in essential oils as well as plant sterols. Some of important sterols include such as brassicasterol, campesterol, sitosterol, avenasterol and stigmasterol. Some of glucosinolate and fatty acids in the seeds include sinigrin, myrosin, erucic, eicosenoic, oleic, and palmitic acids.

  • Mustard seeds are an excellent source of essential B-complex vitamins such as folates, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine (vitaminB-6), pantothenic acid. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. These B-complex groups of vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism.

  • 100 g of mustards provide 4.733 mg of niacin (vitamin B-3). Niacin is a part of nicotinamide co-enzymes that help lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • Mustard seeds contain flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants such as carotenes, zea-xanthin, and lutein. In addition, the seeds compose a small amount of vitamin anti-oxidants such as vitamin A, C, and vitamin K.

  • The seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, gamma tocopherol; contain about 19.82 mg per 100 g (about 132% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

  • Mustards are rich source of health benefiting minerals. Calcium, manganese, copper, iron, selenium and zinc are some of the minerals especially concentrated in these seeds. Calcium helps build bone and teeth. Manganese is employed by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for the red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism.

Medicinal uses

  • Mustard seeds and its oil has traditionally been used to relieve muscle pain, rheumatism and arthritic pain.

  • In India, mustard oil is applied over scalp and is believed to stimulate hair growth.

  • Its ground seeds act as a laxative, stimulant to gastric mucosa and increase intestinal secretion. (Disclaimer).

Selection and storage

Whole mustard seeds have no flavor and smell at all. The hot pungent taste of mustard is because of release irritant gases when its seeds subjected to crush and mix with water to activate enzyme myrosinase. In the spice stores one may find all varieties of whole seeds, ground powder, pastes and different mustard sauces. White mustard seeds feature less pungent flavor than brown or black mustard seeds

Whole, dry mustards keep well for months at room temperature when stored in cool, dry and humid free conditions. However ground seeds and other preparations of mustards should be kept in tight, air seal containers and placed inside the refrigerator for a prolonged shelf life.

Culinary uses

Mustards are used extensively in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladesh, Mediterranean and German cooking. Whole seeds, ground or powdered form, prepared pastes, sauces and oil are all used in cooking.

The aroma and pungent flavor of mustards come from the essential oil, sinalbin. This compound releases isothiocyanate chemicals upon enzymatic reaction mediated by myrosinase enzyme.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Mustards exude pungent nutty flavor when gently roasted under low flame.

  • Brown as well white mustards are used in pickling with raw mango, bitter gourd, etc, in India.

  • Mustard fish curry, prepared with thin mustard paste, coriander powder, chilies and nigella is popular in Bangladesh and West Bengal in Indian subcontinent.
  • Different kind of mustards employ mustard seeds mixed with herbs, spices, honey, tomato, etc., in many parts of the world.

  • Mustard paste is used in salad dressings, sandwiches, and hot dogs and in mayonnaise.

  • American yellow mustard is prepared with white seeds, vinegar, spices, turmeric and sugar.

  • Mustard oil is one of popular cooking oils used in many North Indian and Pakistani recipes.

Safety profile

In general mustard seeds and its oil consider being safe for human consumption when used in small amounts. Large quantity of mustard may cause gastric irritation, bleeding from stomach and intestinal mucosa. It may cause skin burn when applied over skin for longer time. Erucic acid in musatrds has been found to have possible genotoxic and carcinogenic effects in laboratory animal studies.
(Medical disclaimer: The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. It is not to be used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.)

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Further Reading:

1. Gernot Katzar's Spice pages (opens in new window).

2. USDA National Nutrient Dtabase.

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