Q: The mustard is healthy, but the homemade is prepared more slowly because of the maturing period, and the prepared one has preservatives. Is it healthier simply to use ground mustard?  P.D.

Mustard is the third most used spice in the world after salt and black pepper, although it is not so popular in our lands. I really love it, because it is so tasty and its main ingredients – the mustard seeds have plenty of beneficial properties. Mustard is used since ancient times for adding a spicy flavor to different, mainly meat meals and for extension of their storage. Obviously, in these ancient times the bactericidal and fungicidal action of sinapis was well known, as it was widely used for preservation of different foods. In ancient Rome the drink mustum ardum (burning must) was quite popular and was prepared by maceration of mustard seeds in grape juice (must). In many countries sinapis seeds are believed to have strong aphrodisiac properties. In France, in particular, for many years the pharmacies have offered a proven mean containing mustard seeds, ginger and mint, which husbands have bought for their wives in order to increase their libido.

Mustard plant belongs to the Brassicaceae plant family and only a small part of its ‘relatives’ are broccoli, Brussels sprout and cabbage. Among the common species of the genus Sinapis are black mustard (Brassica Nigra), white mustard (Brassica Alba) and brown mustard (Brassica Juncea). The black seeds have the sharpest taste, mustard is made from the white ones (which are actually yellow) and the brown are widely spread as salad spice in India, China and Japan.

Mustard seeds contain isothiocyanates which are believed to prevent and suppress the growth of cancer cells. Researches from 2010 show the capability of these seeds to inhibit the development of bladder cancer. Mustard also can be a powerful source of anti-oxidants and contains plenty of selenium and magnesium, and potassium, calcium, phosphorus, omega-3 and omega-6 as well.

Homobrassinolide, found in the mustard seeds, is a natural steroid which has the potential to significantly increase the volume of muscle fibers. Mustard also is a proven appetite stimulator. When tested in mice, this hormone was found to possess similar or the same effect as anabolic steroids. Mustard may become the new natural stimulant in the fitness halls. One study of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that the anabolic effects of homobrassinolide are enough to increase strength and pure muscle mass. One teaspoon of mustard per day improves digestion, lowers the blood glucose and cures constipation. It improves the blood circulation in the lungs and is a proven remedy for rhinitis and sinusitis. However, it is not recommended in people with stomach ulcers. Except for their anabolic effect, recently mustard seeds are discussed to have “fat burning” effect. Melatonin plays the main role in this biochemical process. It is produced from the epiphysis and regulates the cyclic biorhythm in the organism and participates in many important processes. In the absence of light, the organism synthesizes melatonin from the neurotransmitter serotonin. The latter is derived from the amino acid tryptophan which is found in the mustard seeds and several other foods which also have the property to help utilizing the gathered extra fats.

English scientists think a teaspoon of spicy or wholegrain (a l’ancienne) mustard after meal speeds up metabolism with up to 25% which means burning additional calories.

Dijon mustard, with its more than 20 varieties, is popular for its unique taste. Its content and the content of the other types of French mustard are regulated with a special decree. However, there are no patent restrictions and these mustards are produced in each country, but the content is not always clear. One of the easiest ways to be sure for the proper content is to make it by you and this is not so hard to achieve.

I share my favorite recipe for mustard with sharp and spicy taste:

Necessary products:

1 cup of mustard or around 200g (You can buy it from the market for spices. My advice is to buy mustard grains but if you don’t have a blender or coffee grinder you’d better take ground mustard).

juice of 2-3 lemons

1/4 cup of water

2-3 tsp. honey

1/2 tsp. curcuma

The preparation is quite easy – you just grind the mustard seeds in a blender, add the squeezed lemons, water, honey and curcuma and stir well. The obtained homogenous mixture is put in a jar and is left for around 3 days at room temperature – this gives the mustard a richer aroma with probiotic properties as a bonus.

I also share my favorite dressing recipe with ground mustard seeds:

Honey-mustard dressing

1/3 cup of olive oil

1 cup lemon juice

1 garlic bulb

2 Tbs. apple vinegar /organic/

2 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. ground mustard seeds

1  tsp. sea salt

Mix the ingredients in a blender and enjoy!