Whole Grain Mustard: A Mild, Healthy Mustard

Whole grain mustard is a version of the mustard condiment with the mustard seeds left whole rather than ground. In most versions of mustard, all or some of the seeds are ground to create a smooth or partially smooth product. The mustard plant most likely originated in India though the Ancient Romans appear to have been the first to use its seeds as a condiment, which they did by grinding them.

Other names for whole grain mustard include granary mustard and grainy mustard. While no clear record of whole grain mustard’s origin exists, it does not appear to have been around before the late 20th century. Articles published in the 1970s refer to grainy mustard and whole grain mustard as new food items. While coarse ground mustard has existed for a long time, mustard with whole seeds is probably a recent phenomenon.

Whole grain mustard flavor profile

Whole grain mustard is mild; in fact, it may be among the mildest of the mustards. The fact that the seeds are whole is the reason for its mildness. The reason that mustard seeds have traditionally been ground is so that a glucosinolate they contain (called sinigrin) can be exposed to certain enzymes that cause it to degrade. When the enzymes degrade sinigrin, it becomes allyl isothiocyanate. Allyl isothiocyanate is also called mustard oil and is the source of mustard’s heat.

Because whole grain mustard’s seeds are whole and undamaged, the sinigrin has not degraded and the flavor lacks mustard’s characteristic pungency. Rather than flavor, whole grain mustard’s great asset is its mouthfeel. The grainy character enhances the consistency of all the dishes that usually require mustard.

Health benefits of whole grain mustard

As its name indicates, whole grain mustard contains whole mustard seeds that do contain some important nutrients. Whole grain mustard can improve your health by providing:

  • Minerals: Whole grain mustard contains both calcium and iron.
  • Sinigrin: The compound that produces mustard’s heat also has major health benefits.
  • Fiber: Because it contains the whole seed hulls, whole grain mustard can be a source of dietary fiber.

With whole grain mustard in your diet, you will be consuming key nutrients that can treat or prevent health problems like:

  • Osteoporosis: The calcium in whole grain mustard can help to slow the loss of bone density and improve bone health.
  • Constipation: Whole grain mustard’s high fiber content can help to promote regular bowel movement thus preventing constipation.
  • Cancer: The sinigrin in mustard seeds has shown promise as a powerful antioxidant, which means that it fights free radicals that can cause cancer.

Common uses

Whole grain mustard is a great emulsifier that excels at keeping the oil and vinegar components in vinaigrettes from separating. It can do this because of its mucilage content, which exceeds that of other types of mustard. Because of its mild mustard flavor, it also won’t overpower other flavors in the vinaigrette.

You can use whole grain mustard for traditional mustard applications including as a sandwich condiment and on hotdogs. You can use it to boost the flavor of a pan sauce, to balance out the fattiness of cheesy dishes, and to enhance casseroles. It is particularly good for cooking since its flavor is unaffected by heat. Heating it is not a problem because the seeds are whole and the sinigrin has not been degraded to allyl isothiocyanate.


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