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Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are the leafy greens from a mustard plant. They are packed with nutrients and fiber and help to clear lung and chest conditions and bolster your immune system. Perfect in Asian and Indian style cooking or long cooked in stews

Mustard Greens
The thermal nature is warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Mustard greens are the leaves of a Brassica juncea variety of mustard plant that looks similar to a headless cabbage such as Kale. The leaves can have a variety of textures from crumpled to flat and the edges can be frilled, toothed or scalloped. Mustard greens have a very distinctive, pungent, horseradish or mustard flavor. 

This mustard plant is grown as greens and for seeds to be made into seed oil or mustard condiments. This is highly praised and widely used in African and Indian cooking; they are also used in Chinese and Japanese dishes.

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What is in it

Mustard greens are an excellent source of fiber, the amino acid tryptophan, the minerals manganese and calcium and the vitamins A, C, E and K and folate. It is a very good source of protein, the minerals potassium, copper, phosphorus, iron and magnesium and the Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B2 (riboflavin). Mustard greens are also a good source of Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and Vitamin B3 (niacin).

Mustard greens are a rich source of antioxidants including beta-carotene that can be converted by your body to Vitamin A. Specially cultured mustard greens can be used as a potent food supplement of these nutrients.

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What it is good for

Mustard Greens:
• Tonifies and moistens the intestines
• Promote lung health
• Assists in easing asthma
• Clear chest congestion
• Dissolves stagnation
• Dissolves congealed blood
• Improves energy circulation
• Reduces cold mucus (white or clear rather that yellow) from lung infections
• Helps clear colds and coughs when taken as a tea.

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When you get it

Mustard greens are best and most plentiful in the winter and fall (autumn) although you can find them all year around 

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Which to select

Why Organic
Choose organically grown vegetables. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.

The vegetable
Select mustard greens that are fresh looking and free from any yellowing or brown spots. They should be crisp with a lively green color

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Where to store

Mustard greens should be stored in the refrigerator. In a plastic bag .The greens should keep for about three to four days.

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How to use


Remove the leaves from the base and wash completely in water. The leaves can then be sliced, shredded or used whole. The leaves are used in African cooking, and leave, seeds, and stems are used in Indian cuisine. This mustard plant has a particularly thick stem, is used to make the Indian pickle called Achar , and the Chinese pickle zha cai. The leaves (Raai / Rai in Gujarati) are used in many Indian dishes. The mustard made from the seeds of the Brassica juncea is called brown mustard or Dijon Mustard.

• These greens frequently mixed with these milder greens for a very nutritious and tasty salad. 
• Being cooked for a long period with beans, bay leaves and hearty spices generally flavors mustard greens.
• Stir-fried in Asian meals.
• Asian dish called asam gai choy or kiam chai boey. It involves stewing mustard greens with tamarind, dried chilies and leftover meat on the bone.
• Pickle as in East Asian and Indian cuisine.


Special use - Phytoremediation

This plant is used to remove heavy metals from the soil in hazardous waste sites because it has a higher tolerance for these substances and stores the heavy metals in its cells. The plant is then harvested and disposed of properly. This method is easier and less expensive than traditional methods for the removal of heavy metals. It also prevents erosion of soil from these sites preventing further contamination.

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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.

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Things to watch out for

Do not take if you have heat conditions like inflamed eye diseases, hemorrhoids, or others.

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The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition,, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, Mustard Greens,, retrieved 05/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)

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