Just right off the top, eating these greens will lower your cholesterol! Most people want that. The cholesterol-reducing capacity of mustard greens is second only to perhaps kale, in terms of its ability to bind bile acids form your digestive tract!
Eating mustard greens is probably an acquired taste, it’s not something most people like due to the pungent flavor of the greens. It’s worth it though, and I can help you make it taste delicious. For one, use half mustard greens and half Swiss chard when you cook it. I have posted a delicious recipe HERE using Mustard Greens.
Mustard greens have a strong peppery, bitter flavor. The benefits of this vegetable are hard to beat, and impart strong cancer-fighting compounds such as isothiocyanate or ITCs. These are sulfur-based nutrients that have been studied repeatedly for cancer-fighting effects. They can detoxify the body and this effect is common among all the cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress and Brussels sprouts.
You might be thinking that mustard greens are goitrogenic, and can suppress thyroid function, however, if you cook them that is not going to be an issue. If you want more understanding of how goitrogens can suppress thyroid function, and how to avoid that effect entirely, please read my article, The Case Against Kale. After you read that, you’ll see why I formulated Yummy Greens Superfood Drink Mix without a single goitrogen! It’s so powerful in terms of its ability to detoxify the human body, but completely FREE of goitrogens, that’s why the United States Patent Office awarded it a patent last year!
Anyway, back to mustard greens –> you will need to proceed with caution before eating a plateful of these if you happen to have kidney stones due to the high oxalate content. Another caution is for those of you who take anticoagulant medications like warfarin. Mustard greens, like all greens contain a lot of natural Vitamin K which impacts blood clotting factors. With all these cautions out of the way, let me tell the rest of you why you should acquire a taste for mustard greens:
3 Major Reasons to Eat Mustard Greens:
1. Isothiocyanates or ITCs – Cruciferous veggies contain ITCs which are made from other compounds called “glucosinolates.” Mustard greens have the highest ITC yield as compared to all cruciferous vegetables. One particular glucosinolate is called “sinigrin” and it has been studied for its ability to reduce AGE (Advanced Glycation End Products). It’s important to reduce AGE if you’re dealing a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s diabetes, atherosclerosis and heart disease. If you don’t control AGE, then you’re in for a lot of free-radical damage and oxidation. We all know that could lead to cancer. The mustard seeds have the most of this compound (sinigrin), which has major therapeutic anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative potential. If you are interested in learning more about AGEs, take a moment to read my article, Why Your Blood Sugar Numbers Don’t Matter Much.
Absorbed ITCs are rapidly converted in your liver to something amazing called glutathione. That’s an antioxidant that is known to detoxify heavy metals and other garbage in the body. Glutathione is a powerful benefit of eating greens! Research alone on glutathione’s impact on the body could fill a thousand page book! I’ve written about this ‘master’ antioxidant a few times, here’s one of my articles, Chronic Illness Responds to Glutathione.
2. Beta Carotene – Eating mustard greens can help your vision. Mustard greens have a lot of natural beta carotene, which in the body converts to Vitamin A in most people if their genetics don’t trip up that pathway. There is about 96% of the recommended daily allowance in a cup of cooked/steamed mustard greens. Vitamin A is critical for vision. Your eyes pay the biggest price without sufficient vitamin A and can develop a condition called “xerophthalmia.” This is the medical term that defines a broader spectrum of problems such as dry eye (xerosis), night blindness, retinal diseases, corneal ulcers/scarring and Bitot’s spots. Speaking of vision, have you seen my new formula for eye health? CLICK HERE to learn more about Vision Script. (It does not contain beta carotene)
3. SOD – SOD is short for Superoxide Dismutase which is an enzyme in your body that vacuums up dangerous “superoxides” which are oxygen-derived free radicals. This enzyme ultimately seeks to prevents damage to your organs and tissues. It first breaks down “superoxide” and turns it into “hydrogen peroxide” which is slightly less cytotoxic, and then the hydrogen peroxide is supposed to be converted by catalase into water and oxygen. So the SOD is useful because it’s a potent antioxidant in and of itself. It is being researched currently, for the sole purpose of seeing how it helps remove harmful oxygen-derived oxidants which promote chronic diseases.
SOD breaks down superoxide, an infamous toxin in the category of “oxygen-derived free radicals.” The next one down in the pathway (see graphic) is Hydrogen Peroxide or H2O2 which I’ve noted in red color.
Hydrogen peroxide is not just in those brown bottles sold as an antiseptic, your cells make it! In a normal, healthy pathway the H2O2 lives for microseconds, not very long because it will oxidize your cell membrane. In a normal healthy person the H2O2 is broken down immediately by Catalase and Glutathione. But some people don’t have enough Glutathione or Catalase. When the H2O2 builds up it raises your risk for tremendous cellular membrane damage. It has been associated with thyroid disease, chronic fatigue, breast cancer (most cancers actually!) as well as respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and asthma. When SOD, Catalase or Glutathione activity is suppressed, then supplementing becomes an intelligent consideration.
Please ask your practitioner what’s ideal for you. But you can see from my graph why some people choose to supplement with SOD or Catalase, or both. The goal is to break down the toxin (H2O2 peroxide) and turn it into something awesome like water and oxygen! That’s what nourishes your body!
Aside from all these benefits, I think mustard greens are fabulous source of B vitamins including folate which drives your methylation pathway, and potassium which is fantastic for blood pressure. These greens are a valuable source of glucosinolates, and if you’d like to look them up on Pubmed, search for some of the more popular ones like quercetin, kaempferol and sinigrin. Also search for natural sulfur and its health benefits. Kaempferol is something I’ve mentioned before. You can eat more of this precious antioxidant if you’d like to. Here’s a recipe for Skillet Kaempferol Chicken with Capers. Here’s another recipe, Kaempferol Smoothie with Blueberries.
CLICK HERE for my recipe, Garlic Parmesan Mustard Greens. It’s delicious! Eating these greens even once or twice a week will give you noticeable health impacts that can’t be beat!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.