Mustard Greens
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Mustard Greens (Brassica juncea variety rugosa) also known as Indian Mustard, Chinese Mustard and Leaf Mustard is a type of mustard plant with edible leaves, stem and seeds.

Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been consumed for more than 5,000 years. For more than 3,000 years the Chinese have cultivated Mustard Greens.

The ancient Egyptians chewed their seeds with Meat as a seasoning. The ancient Greeks used Mustard to flavor Roasts and Stews. The Romans carried Mustard Seeds with them to Gaul (France), savoring them along the road where the plants soon grew wild and flourished in the fertile hillsides.

Today, Mustard Greens are grown for consumption as Greens, for their Mustard Seeds, used as either oilseeds (Mustard Oil), or as a Spice on their own or to make the condiment Mustard. Mustard Greens are also grown for Phytoremediation (planted to remove heavy metals, such as lead, from the soil in hazardous waste sites and then properly disposed of).

All Mustard Plants are members of the Brassicaceae family, which makes Mustard a Cruciferous Vegetable and a cousin to Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Rutabagas, Turnips, Radishes, Horseradish, Cress, and Broccoli.


Although they are available in the produce section throughout the year, Mustard Greens’ season is from early Winter through mid-Spring, when they freshest and most flavorful, making them a Winter Vegetable.


Mustard Greens are available at finer grocery stores all year long.


Most mustard greens are actually emerald green in color, while some are not green at all but rather shades of dark red or deep purple. The leaves of mustard greens can have either a crumpled or flat texture and may have either toothed, scalloped, frilled, or lacey edges.

Mustard Greens have some frost tolerance but grow best in temperate regions. Mustard seeds generally take three to ten days to germinate if placed under the proper conditions, which include a cold atmosphere and relatively moist soil. Brown Mustard Seeds and Black Mustard Seeds have higher yields than White Mustard Seeds. With enough time, mature Mustard plants grow into shrubs.

India, Nepal, China, Japan are among the leading producers of Mustard Greens, the U.S. grows a significant quantity of Mustard Greens as well. Major producers of mustard seeds include Canada, Hungary, Great Britain, India, Pakistan and the United States.


The primary type of Mustard Greens in the produce aisles, because they are the best eating, are the leaves of Brown Mustard (also called Chinese Mustard, Indian Mustard or Leafy Mustard) and its kindred varieties Broad-Leaved Mustard Greens (Brassica juncea var. folioso) and Thin-Leaved Mustard Greens.

Though these are the best you may also conceivably find Black Mustard leaves and White Mustard leaves (sometimes called “Yellow Mustard”) at specialty stores or Farmer’s Markets. They are edible and can be used as any other Mustard Green. They will be more pungent and may be best mixed with other Greens to make a bowl of “Mixed Greens.”

You can step further afield and find a whole host of different Mustard species such as: Mizuna (also called Pot Herb Mustard), Chinese Green Mustard, Southern Giant Curled Mustard, Ethiopian Mustard, etc.

Several species of Brassica, which are not technically Mustards, are also known in kitchens as Mustard Greens because they have a similar look, feel and flavor and can be cooked in the same way as Mustard Greens.


When purchasing Mustard Greens, look for ones that are a lively green color, fresh looking and crisp. Good Mustard Greens should be blemish-free, with no yellow or brown spots.


Mustard Greens are best stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with as much air removed from them as possible. Refrigerated, Mustard Greens should remain fresh for about 3-5 days. Mustard Greens can be frozen for 8-10 months.

Culinary Uses

Mustard Greens are the most pungent of the Asian Greens with a spicy, peppery Dijon Mustard flavor. They give off a mustardy smell during cooking. The leaves, the seeds, and the stem of Mustard Greens (Brown Mustard, Black Mustard & White Mustard) are edible. The leaves of the Mustard plant may be eaten Raw in a Salad and/or mixed with other Greens. Younger Leaves are the most tender, and thus more desirable. Leaves that are 1”- 3” (2.54 cm – 7.62 cm ) in length are good for Salads. Longer 3”-6” leaves (7.62 cm – 15.24 cm ) are fine for Stir Fries. Mustard Leaves that are any larger should be used in Soups and Stews or Pickled.

All Mustard Greens can be Steamed, Sautéed, Boiled, or Stir Fried. Sautéing Mustard Greens helps retain their flavor and keeps them from getting soft and water logged. If you find Mustard Greens too piquant, their spiciness can be toned down with the addition of a cooking Acid, such as Vinegar or Citrus juice near the end of cooking. Smart Kitchen’s recipe for Sautéed Mustard Greens can be found by following the link.

Mustard Greens are a staple vegetable in much of the world and appear in African Cuisine, Italian Cuisine, Indian Cuisine, Chinese Cuisine, Japanese Cuisine (Takana which is Pickled, used as a Stuffing or used as a Condiment), Korean Cuisine, American Southern Cuisine & American Soul Food Cuisine, where they are generally Simmered with Ham Hocks.

Portion Size

Allow 2-4 oz of Mustard Greens per person.

Nutritional Value USDA
Amount Per 100g
Calories 27
%Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 20mg
Potassium 384mg
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Mustard Greens are a Cruciferous Vegetable with all of the same phytochemicals and nutritional properties. They were ranked as the 6th healthiest green vegetable by Jill Nussinow, author of The Veggie Queen. Mustard Greens are high in Potassium, Manganese, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K; and can accumulate Cadmium, Copper, Magnesium and many other soil trace elements. With special growing conditions, Mustard Greens can be used as a supplement for Selenium, Chromium, Iron and Zinc. Mustard Greens are also a good source of Dietary Fiber.

Numerous studies have pointed to Cruciferous Vegetables (including Mustard Greens) being a cancer fighting food since Mustard Greens provide support for three of the body’s systems that appear closely linked with cancer prevention (the detox system, the antioxidant system & the anti-inflammatory/inflammatory system). Protracted imbalances in any of these systems can increase the cancer risk. If all three are sub-optimal at once, the cancer risk is higher. Mustard Greens are thought to be most helpful at helping prevent breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.

Mustard Greens are low calorie (a half cup has only 10 calories) and are also thought to help lower Cholesterol. When they are eaten the fiber-related nutrients in the Mustard Greens bind with bile acids in the intestine and cause them to remain in place (and pass out of the body) instead of being released into the blood stream to bind with fats. The loss of these bile acids means that the Liver has to scavenge more bile acids from the blood by converting Cholesterol into bile acid.

Both Raw and Cooked Mustard Greens help lower cholesterol in this way but Steaming them seems to be the most effective method for lowering Cholesterol. In a recent study, the cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed Mustard Greens was second only to the cholesterol lowering ability of Steamed Collard Greens and Steamed Kale in a recent study of cruciferous vegetables and their ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract.

There are a few downsides to Mustard Greens as well. The negatives of Mustard Greens themselves have not been the focus of much peer-reviewed study but as a Cruciferous Vegetable, Raw Mustard Greens, in large quantities, are reputed to interfere with thyroid function and possibly cause goiters. Cooking them significantly reduces the risk, which is why Mustard Greens are considered a “Boiled Green.”

Mustard Greens do contain measureable amounts of Oxalic Acid which can block Calcium absorption and be unhealthful, especially for persons with Kidney or Liver problems. If you have a healthy digestive system, prepare your Mustard Greens properly (cook to reduce the Oxalic Acid), and chew properly you should be fine.

If health concerns are a drive of your meal planning, you will want to add 1 to 1.5 Cups of Mustard Greens in the rotation of Cruciferous Vegetables you eat regularly (2-3 times a week). If you want maximum nutrition, eat 2 cups of them 4-5 times a week.

Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie