Rai(Mustard)

This spice is one of my favorites, because the images it evokes most for me are those of the regional Indian cuisine I love best – that of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

So I was a little disappointed when I google-searched to learn about the benefits/properties/effects of this “global” spice.

I suppose what I was looking for was the sort of sources I managed to find aplenty for spices such as turmeric- articles in mainstream news media, and reports of scientific research related to the spice.

I did find some, but if there are others you may have found which you think meet that criterion, do tell me.

In the meanwhile, here is what I have come across.

Mustard seeds can be the product of one of three different kinds of plants; black, brown (Indian), and yellow mustard.

Mustard greens, the seeds and the oil made from them have long been used in Indian and other Asian cuisines. In France, it is  ground mustard that is something of an institution (it is used as an accompaniment to meats). And medieval European courts apparently employed a “mustardarius”, an official who supervised the growing and preparation of mustard !

The mustard plant belongs to the Brassica family of phytonutrient-rich vegetables such as  broccoli ,cauliflower, kale and  cabbage. Therefore everything derived from it – the greens, the seeds, the oil – offers health benefits.

Mustard greens are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and E, and iron; one cup (140 gm) would provide an adult 60% of the recommended daily Vitamin A requirement, all the Vitamin C requirement and about one-fifth the iron.

Mustard oil is apparently extremely heart and health friendly. It has cholesterol reducing and anti-oxidant properties; it contains essential vitamins; it has saturated fat levels lower even that of olive oil,and high levels of good omega 3 fatty acid and mono-unsaturated fatty acid.

Like the greens, the seeds are also an excellent source of selenium and magnesium, minerals that are helpful in reducing the severity of asthma and in lowering high blood pressure.

In India mustard oil has been used traditionally in the treatment of respiratory conditions ,arthritis and rheumatism.

Mustard seeds also act as a preservative, which is why they are often used in making pickle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustard_seed

http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/26/stories/2007032618560500.htm

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=106

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mostof_mustard.shtml

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Brassica_juncea.html

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