It is believed that there are over 40 different mustard varieties but the varieties most familiar to people in the western world are categorized simply as black, brown, and white mustard. Food coloring or turmeric is added to the white variety to make what we know as yellow mustard. Black mustard seeds most likely come from the Mediterranean region, though in modern times they are mainly used in India. While mustard’s history goes all the way back to Ancient Egypt, the prepared version of it is a Roman invention. The ancient Romans ground mustard seeds and used them to make a paste with wine that was similar to the prepared mustard we use today.
The mustard seed referenced in the Book of Luke in the Bible is believed to be black mustard. The black mustard plant can grow to over ten feet in height, which makes it relevant to the passage in Luke that states “it grew and became a great tree.” In contrast, neither yellow nor white mustard plants are known to grow to more than 2 feet tall.
In recent years, black mustard has fallen out of favor in Europe and North America. This is simply because the brown variety is easier to cultivate.
Black mustard seeds flavor profile
The darker the mustard seed, the hotter and more flavorful it is. The heat of mustard seeds is caused by an enzyme called myrosinase. Myrosinase can be neutralized with heat. While black mustard is considered extremely hot when compared to the other varieties of mustard, it sweetens and becomes milder when it is toasted or fried. Heat gives it a nutty character.
Health benefits of black mustard seeds
The medicinal benefits of mustard seeds have been known since the time of Dioscorides. Below is a look at why it can be a valuable addition to your diet,
- Fiber: Black mustard seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber, which is essential for colon health as well as for cardiovascular health.
- Minerals: Black mustard seeds contain significant levels of certain minerals that are considered important for health. Those minerals include zinc, iron, and magnesium.
- Antioxidants: Among the antioxidants that you will find in black mustard seeds are carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Antioxidants help to protect your body from free radical damage.
- Sinigrin: Black mustard seeds contain a set of compounds called glucosinolates, one of which is called sinigrin. Sinigrin is thought to have major and far-reaching health benefits.
Regularly consuming black mustard seeds can help to prevent or treat various health conditions including:
- Cancer: The sinigrin in black mustard seeds is believed to have anticancer properties.
- Intestinal illnesses: The fiber that you get from black mustard seeds not only helps to prevent constipation, it can help to prevent high cholesterol as well. Its benefits for your blood cholesterol levels can make it effective for preventing heart disease and strokes.
Common uses of black mustard seeds
Along with being used to make conventional prepared mustard just like brown or white mustard seeds, black mustard may also be mixed with white mustard when making ground mustard. Ground mustard is sometimes called mustard flour. In India, black mustard seeds are often included in spice blends from the northern part of the subcontinent. When they are used in Southern India, they are typically combined with green chili peppers and curry leaves. Black mustard seeds are also commonly added to chutneys and pickles, partly because of their antimicrobial properties.
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