Mustard

Health Power

Mustard greens are loaded with vitamin K, which increases bone formation and decreases its breakdown (osteoclastic processes). Especially helpful for postmenopausal women. Magnesium also an important cofactor for many enzymes, some involved with bone and cartilage building. (Others keep smooth muscles relaxed, which helps asthmatics.) With some calcium, mustard greens are good for bones. Great source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C. Besides being a protective antioxidant, vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyesight in low light, embryonic development and immune system function by helping develop and activate red and white blood cells. Vitamin A also helps increase blood vessel dilation and decrease blood vessel spasms. Antioxidant vitamin C protects water-soluble areas from cellular damage by free radicals. Also important in synthesis of collagen (part of blood vessels), ligaments, tendons and bone formation. (May also promote healthy immune system function, but more research is needed.) Together, antioxidant vitamins A, C and E help blood vessels relax and prevent plaque buildup. Folate is involved with DNA synthesis and protein catabolism. Folate also regulates homocysteine in the blood. (At excess levels, homocysteine is linked to hardening of blood vessels, which leads to heart disease.) Folate is also essential to proper fetal development. Mustard greens have many phytonutrients (e.g. glucosinolates) that get converted to isothiocyanates. These are being researched for their ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and stimulate production of detoxifying enzymes in the liver.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – K, A, C, E, B9 (Folate), B6 (Pyridoxine), B2 (Riboflavin), B1 (Thiamin) and B3 (Niacin)
Minerals – Manganese, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Phosphorus, Iron and Magnesium

Disease Prevention

Mustard greens may help avoid cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, cataracts and cancers of the mouth, throat, vocal cords, esophagus, skin, lung, breast, liver, stomach, colon and prostate.

How to Grow

Easy to grow and great in salads and sandwiches or as a garnish. Can grow indoors in winter and/or outdoors in spring and fall. Grows best in cool weather with full sun. Outdoors, grows best in sunny site with moist, highly fertile soil. Indoors, it does well in shallow pans or trays. For a winter sowing, place a bit of moist soil into a tray. Scatter the seeds thickly on it. Cover the seeds with a piece of paper (newspaper, magazine page, printer paper). When seeds germinate, remove paper and set in direct sunlight. When they begin to grow, put them in fertile soil. If sowing outdoors, sow in a container the same way or in the corner of a bed. Sow every couple of weeks to get continual harvest. Greens are ready for harvest in 10-20 days. Cut and enjoy, but remember to sow another tray.

Insect Control

Mustard is largely trouble free, especially indoors. If you have a persistent infestation, consult local nursery or agriculture extension office.

Tips

Mustard is a cool weather crop. Flowers want to develop during long, warm, summer days. Remove and compost them when hot weather arrives before flower stalks appear.

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