Mustard creates a spicy taste – everyone knows that. But very few people know that spice is healthy. Mustard is an ancient remedy that can still be used today in the form of wraps or baths to relieve ailments. Mustard also makes high-fat foods more tolerable and protects against diseases.
Mustard is made from mustard seeds
Mustard is a savory condiment made from the seeds of black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown mustard (Brassica juncea), and white mustard (Sinapsis alba). White mustard is also called yellow mustard because of its yellow flowers.
If mustard is mentioned, it usually does not mean the mustard seeds themselves, but the so-called table mustard or mustard. This spice paste consists of mustard seeds and other ingredients and is sold in tubes or jars. But whole and ground mustard seeds (mustard powder) can also spice up many a dish.
The idiom: add your two cents
Incidentally, the phrase “to add one’s mustard” was coined in the 17th century. Since mustard was considered an exclusive delicacy at the time, the innkeepers usually served it with practically all dishes without asking, even if it didn’t really go well with some dishes. This custom was felt by many guests to be particularly intrusive and inappropriate.
Today, however, the yellow paste is unfortunately almost exclusively used in our latitudes to give all kinds of sausages a better taste. It is completely forgotten that there is much more to this diverse spice, which has also been used as a remedy for thousands of years.
Mustard sharpens the food – and the mind
In China, mustard was already highly valued 3,000 years ago because of its sharpness. Around the 4th century B.C. The mustard reached Greece, where it was soon used against all sorts of ailments. It was considered a miracle weapon in the fight against germs, inflammation, pain, and digestive problems.
In ancient times, even mathematicians and philosophers dealt with the symbolic mustard seed. Pythagoras, for example, is said to have recognized that mustard not only sharpens food but also sharpens the mind – as Indian researchers were able to confirm in a study from 2013.
With the ancient Romans, mustard then made its way across the Alps, where it took people’s hearts by storm. This is partly due to the fact that there were hardly any hot spices in Central and Northern Europe at the time and that mustard was affordable even for the poorer population. Pepper was so valuable in comparison that it was even worth its weight in gold. In the Middle Ages, the healing properties of the yellow paste were so well known that they were sold in pharmacies.
The nutritional values
Mustard seeds are small and inconspicuous, and yet they have a lot of power. A single tablespoon of seeds (about 10 grams) has 48 kcal and boasts the following nutritional facts:
- 2.9 grams of fat
- 2.8 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.5 grams of protein
- 0.7 g fiber
With these values, however, keep in mind that whole or ground mustard seeds are of course used sparingly as a spice and that the same amount of table mustard generally has a lower nutrient content, but sugar is often added.
The vitamins and minerals
Mustard seeds are small vital substance bombs. 10 grams of seeds contain z. B. round:
- 54 µg vitamin B1 – 4 percent of the daily requirement: This is important for the nervous system.
- 790 µg Vitamin B3 – 4.4 percent of the daily requirement: Can lower total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol.
- 2 mg vitamin E – 13 percent of the daily requirement: has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect.
- 52 mg calcium – 14 percent of the daily requirement: Is important for blood clotting, heart, bones, and muscles.
- 37 mg magnesium – 10 percent of the daily requirement: This is necessary for muscle function.
- 20 µg selenium – 37 percent of the daily requirement: The antioxidant is used in cancer, impaired immune defense, and infections.
- 2 mg iron – 14 percent of the daily requirement: Binds oxygen in the red blood cells.
You can also use mustard to cover the need for vital substances. It should be noted, however, that the well-known mustard paste consists of no more than 30 percent mustard seeds. In order to enjoy the vital and nutrient quantities mentioned, one would either have to eat mustard sprouts from 10 grams of mustard seeds or consume at least 30 grams of mustard (from the jar or tube).
The oldest mustard recipe
Far from being a newfangled creation, mustard was invented by the ancient Romans. The oldest surviving mustard recipe was handed down by Palladius, the ingredients include mustard seeds, honey, olive oil, and fermented must. This spice paste was referred to as “mustum ardens” (burning must), which is still associated with terms such as B. remember mustard or mustard.
Today, ground mustard seeds, brandy vinegar, drinking water, and table salt are among the basic ingredients of table mustard. Some mustard manufacturers use white wine or the juice of unripe grapes (e.g. Dijon mustard) instead of vinegar.
The mustard seeds are first cleaned, then crushed and de-oiled. The grist is then ground into fine flour and mixed with the other ingredients. Then this mixture is allowed to ferment for a few hours until a mash is formed.
Then the mass is thoroughly ground again, giving the mustard paste a very fine and creamy consistency. The sweet Bavarian mustard, on the other hand, is characterized by the fact that the mustard seeds are only roughly ground. In any case, it is important during production that the maximum temperature of 50 °C is not exceeded, otherwise, the valuable mustard oils will be destroyed.
The selection of mustard types on the supermarket shelves is huge: there is mild, medium-hot, and hot mustard, grainy mustard or coarsely ground mustard, sweet mustard, fruit mustard, herb mustard, etc.
The taste and flavor vary depending on the type of mustard and the ingredients. The spiciness can be determined by the mixing ratio of white and brown or black mustard seeds as desired.
while e.g. For example, if only black or brown mustard seeds are used for extra hot mustard specialties, a combination of mild white and strong black mustard seeds can give the mustard a slight spiciness.
Furthermore, by adding other spices such. B. tarragon, garlic, peppers, cinnamon, curry or honey, horseradish, and various types of fruit. B. figs create the most seductive taste nuances.
Mustard Leaves and Mustard Sprouts: Tasty and healthy
Knowledgeable wild plant collectors and happy garden owners appreciate not only the seeds but also the leaves of the mustard plant because of their refreshing taste and their cleansing effect. The regular consumption of mustard leaves can e.g. B. protect against diabetes.
While in our region many people do not even know that mustard leaves can be eaten, they are e.g. B. in Ethiopian and Indian cuisine a welcome guest. In India, the leaves of the mustard plant are cooked with garlic and onions and eaten with naan bread.
You can easily grow mustard greens yourself by germinating mustard seeds. The small mustard sprouts usually germinate the day after sowing, grow quickly, and can be harvested after 5 to 7 days. They go well in salads, with herb quark, or on wholemeal bread. Mustard sprouts contribute enormously to health because, apart from the high mustard oil content, they are very rich in vitamins and stimulate digestion.
Mustard doesn’t taste spicy at all
Mustard seeds contain up to 36 percent nutty vegetable oil as well as essential oils, both of which are called mustard oil. The essential oil contains the so-called mustard oil glycosides. These are medicinally valuable phytochemicals that are responsible for the aroma of the mustard – but e.g. B. also horseradish or cress – are jointly responsible.
However, mustard oil glycosides are not hot per se. Just put a few mustard seeds in your mouth and you will see that they taste mild and nutty at first and only become a little hotter after chewing for a long time. Mustard powder also initially has a rather bland, slightly bitter, but by no means spicy taste.
This is due to the fact that the enzyme myrosinase, which is also contained in mustard, only becomes active when the seeds are crushed or ground and come into contact with liquid. As a result, mustard oil glycosides are converted into various substances. These include the pungent, lachrymatory isothiocyanates, which are also defined as mustard oils.
Mustard oils promote health
Mustard seeds are not only characterized by their different colors, but also by their degree of spiciness. The different types of mustard contain not only a single mustard oil glycoside, but a mixture of the same.
While the glycoside sinalbin dominates in mild white mustard, the glycoside sinigrin sets the tone in brown mustard and especially in very hot black mustard.
According to medical studies, mustard oil glycosides are antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial, and have wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, blood circulation-enhancing, appetite-stimulating, and digestive properties.
In addition, it has been proven several times that mustard oil glycosides render carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) harmless and prevent tumor development – e.g. in the liver – can block.
Mustard reduces colon polyps
Since people in Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world and eat mustard seeds frequently, Chinese researchers from Nanfang Hospital have investigated whether the tiny grains can really extend life.
The lab study found that mustard seed extract can prevent the growth of colon cancer cells and even drive them to death. It was also found that mustard extract can reduce the formation of intestinal polyps, which are considered the precursors to colon cancer, by 50 percent.
Mustard protects against bladder cancer
American researchers have also taken a close look at the isothiocyanates. They focused on mustard because it has a particularly high content of these mustard oils compared to other cruciferous plants.
The study found that mustard powder was able to inhibit the growth of bladder tumors by 34.5 percent. In the muscle tissue of the bladder, the cancer cells could even be completely prevented from spreading.
The Roswell Park Cancer Institute scientists found that the isothiocyanates cleaved from sinigrin were the most effective. This means that hot mustard is more effective than mild variants in terms of cancer prevention, as confirmed by researchers at the University of Freiburg:
Food mustard against carcinogenic substances
14 subjects took part in the so-called Freiburg study, who consumed 20 grams of hot mustard every day for four days. Then blood was taken and the blood was “bombarded” with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). PAHs are carcinogenic substances that e.g. B. arise when meat is seared.
The investigations showed that the white blood cells of those subjects who consumed the mustard could handle PAHs much better than was the case with the white blood cells of the control group.
The anti-cancer effect of mustard has been attributed to the isothiocyanates, which have the special ability to remove toxins from the body. The researchers also found that the cholesterol levels in the mustard group were significantly lower. It is therefore no coincidence that mustard should not be missing from barbecue evenings.
For digestion and against heartburn
Mustard also stimulates the appetite and aids in digestion as the mustard oils activate the production of digestive juices such as saliva, gastric, and bile. This allows high-fat foods to be better digested.
The spice paste can therefore also counteract heartburn, which is promoted by high-fat food. The symptoms can be relieved with both mustard seeds and table mustard.
Since mustard bacteria such. B. kills the notorious stomach germ Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer, it is generally considered to be very beneficial for gastrointestinal health.
However, in some people, the paste may make heartburn worse, depending specifically on the cause of the heartburn. So if you suffer from heartburn, test the mustard in small quantities before you dose it too high.
Mustard fights disease-causing bacteria
Scientists from the University of Manitoba found in 2014 that mustard can attack the notorious EHEC bacteria. These always make headlines because they can cause life-threatening diarrhea. The researchers found that the enzyme myrosinase contained in mustard plays a major role in combating EHEC. Even a small amount of hot mustard powder was enough to drastically reduce the number of EHEC bacteria in a sausage (16).
In this context, bear in mind that EHEC is repeatedly discovered during food quality controls, as they often enter the food chain during slaughter or milking. However, if you regularly add mustard to your food, you can keep the risk of infection low.
Mustard in folk medicine
Folk medicine knows many other proven uses of the medicinal plant mustard. This also includes external applications such as mustard baths, mustard ointments, mustard plasters, and mustard wraps, which have a warming and circulation-enhancing effect.
The mustard oil glycosides contained in the yellow paste have a skin-irritating effect – similar to the capsaicin from the chili pepper – and therefore lead to increased blood circulation, which can inhibit inflammation and pain. The areas of application include:
- Joint diseases (e.g. arthrosis and rheumatism)
- Cold and flu (e.g. fever and bronchitis)
- neck stiffness
- back pain
- nerve inflammation
- Muscle aches
Scientific research still has some catching up to do in these areas, and yet the long tradition of use clearly speaks for the effectiveness of mustard.
Mustard for arthrosis, flu, and headaches
According to Prof Dieter Melchart from the Klinikum Rechts der Isar in Munich (Center for Naturopathy), in the case of arthrosis, the region is warmed up directly on the joint by applying mustard. Since this conduction of heat now competes with the conduction of pain, so to speak, fewer pain impulses reach the brain.
In the case of colds, e.g. B. in inflammation of the paranasal sinuses and the upper respiratory tract, the mustard oils loosen the mucus and unfold their anti-inflammatory and germicidal effect.
Furthermore, it was demonstrated at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen that mustard oils can inhibit the proliferation of influenza viruses. On the other hand, for headaches, paradoxically, it is recommended to place the mustard compress on the soles of the feet.
The external use of mustard
Never apply mustard to sensitive areas of the body – e.g. B. in the area of the face or genitals – and never longer than 2 weeks. Keep in mind that it has a strong effect on the skin and if used improperly it can be very irritating, causing redness and burns.
In extreme cases, the strong active ingredients can even lead to nerve damage, which is why any external application should be carried out with particular caution. In addition, the vapors in mustard baths can cause severe irritation of the eyes and bronchi.
External applications of mustard are generally not recommended for children under the age of 6 or with existing kidney diseases or varicose veins! Mustard pads should also not be applied to sensitive areas of the body, including the head area, mucous membranes, breasts/nipples, and armpits. Inexperienced people are advised to get good advice from a doctor or naturopath before starting a mustard treatment.
How to make mustard toppings
The use of a mustard wrap or mustard toppings is anything but complicated, but the ingredients should always be freshly prepared:
- Grind the mustard seeds in a mortar and then mix the mustard powder with lukewarm water (max. 40 °C) to form a paste.
- Put 1 to 4 tablespoons of the pulp on a linen cloth – depending on how much is needed for the affected area.
- Now place the cloth with the mushy side on the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you can also fold the cloth over the pulp so that it does not come into direct contact with the skin, but instead has a layer of cloth in between.
- Leave the pad on until you feel hot. It is best to start with 3 to 5 minutes. A mustard topping should not be left on for longer than 15 minutes.
- Always leave the mustard wrap on for a minute after you start feeling hot. However, if too much burning occurs, remove the wrap immediately. Check again and again during the application to see whether the skin is already reddening. If the redness is severe, remove the pad immediately, wash the skin, and keep the area warm.
- After the exposure time that is comfortable for you, remove the wrap. Wash off the skin and then rub it gently with skin oil. Again, keep the spot warm.
It is best to wrap yourself up warm in blankets, have a cup of tea brought to you, and lie down on the couch for 30 minutes to rest and relax.
- You can also benefit from the healing properties of mustard in the form of mustard baths.
This is how you make healing mustard baths
Since mustard baths have a very intensive effect, you should try a partial bath first. 2 tablespoons of white mustard powder are sufficient for a footbath up to the ankle and 4 tablespoons for a footbath up to the calf. Simply stir the mustard powder into the warm water.
A footbath should last no more than 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, add hot water to keep the temperature constant.
Mustard foot baths help e.g. B. for cold feet and migraines, while mustard full baths have an invigorating effect and intensify the entire metabolism. Only carry out a mustard full bath if you have a strong constitution and have already gained experience with mustard partial baths.
For a full bath, you need 250 grams of mustard powder, which is stirred into warm water. The application time is about 10 to 20 minutes.
The duration of use should also be gradually increased for mustard baths. As soon as the burning starts, you should – if possible – stay in the bathroom for about a minute.
Wash your feet and body well with clear water. A subsequent rest phase increases the effectiveness.
Ground mustard seeds are often used in medical applications, but – contrary to what is often assumed – there is also a healing power dormant in mustard.
Purchasing, storage, and shelf life of mustard
When buying mustard, be sure to pay attention to the list of ingredients. Some manufacturers add the antioxidant sulfur dioxide (E 224), which can cause nausea, headaches, or even asthma attacks in sensitive people.
Edible mustard should be kept in the refrigerator even when unopened, as light and heat, affect the color and flavor. The higher the temperature, the faster the mustard oils are broken down and the mustard loses its fresh and pungent aroma as well as its healing properties.
Unopened mustard is usually edible long after the sell-by date has passed. It doesn’t usually go bad, but its flavor or color may change. Opened mustard that is kept in the refrigerator can usually be kept for several months.
Like other dried spices, mustard powder and mustard seeds should be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place. They can be kept for years, but lose their aroma over time.