Mustard, the universal yellow condiment, is a common, delicious addition to picnics, generously squirted out of yellow plastic bottles onto burgers, hot dogs and pretzels. Beyond the ballpark, it’s less well-known that uncooked mustard seeds are a nutritious addition to a healthy diet.

More than just a jolt of tangy flavor, many people who eat raw mustard seeds report that they offer a variety of added health benefits as well.

What Are the Benefits of Mustard Seeds?

The ancient Greeks first noticed that mustard seeds increased blood circulation, but later, the Chinese noticed the warming sensation that mustard seeds generated in the body and used it widely as an aphrodisiac. But throughout history, across thousands of years, mustard has been recognized as having medicinal benefits.

Mustard is part of the same cruciferous family of vegetables that includes cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and more.

Today, raw mustard seeds are being consumed not just for their taste, but also for their heath-boosting ability.

Mustard seeds come in different varieties, including: black mustard seed, white mustard seed and Indian brown mustard seed.

Loaded with selenium, which is an anti-inflammatory agent, and magnesium, which is believed to provide relief for asthma sufferers_, there are plenty of devotees of the health benefits provided by consuming raw mustard seeds. Some say they’ve gotten _relief from migraines, and others report relief from high blood pressure thanks to mustard seeds.

Mustard seeds are antiseptic and antibacterial, which is believed to boost immunity and guard against disease. Here are just a few other maladies that mustard seeds may cure or prevent:

  • Skin issues, including dermatitis, psoriasis and ringworm
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • General aches and pains

Black Mustard Seeds

Black mustard seeds, in particular, when added to milk and sipped 20 minutes before a meal, are said to have digestion benefits. Black mustard seed is the most pungent of the mustard varieties, giving it a flavor profile similar to horseradish.

Buying and Storing Mustard Seeds

Buying fresh mustard seeds will ensure a long shelf life. Store the mustard seeds in an airtight container, and they will last up to a year. Ground mustard seeds will last for about six months.

How to Cook With Mustard Seed

Adding mustard seeds to a hot skillet and frying them until they pop like popcorn is one trendy way home cooks and chefs alike can add mustard seeds to everyday salad, soup and sandwich recipes. Mustard seeds also can be pickled and used somewhat like a tasty garnish. You can also use uncooked mustard seeds to infuse flavor into oils, marinades and dressings.

However, for purists looking to get the most nutritional value out of them, simply chewing raw mustard seeds is a no-muss choice.

Benefits of Chewing Mustard Seed

Chewing raw mustard seeds is suggested for immediate relief from a headache, back spasms, congestion and even constipation, since they’re high in fiber. Eaten raw, mustard seeds have an intense, bitter taste.

And with just 32 calories in 1 tablespoon of ground mustard seeds, they’re an appetite-killing snack that can aid in weight loss.

Soaking Raw Mustard Seeds

Mustard gets its tangy, telltale taste from a little enzyme named myrosine. But myrosine isn’t activated until it comes into contact with water. That’s why mustard seed is added to brines and pickling liquids as-is, but to prepare mustard seeds or use ground mustard in a recipe, water in a necessary first step.

Raw Mustard Seed and Honey Dip and Dressing

Mustard seed and honey are a popular flavor combination, bringing a recognizable sweet heat to salads and chicken. Slather them on everything as a stand-alone honey-mustard condiment. Whipping up a batch of raw mustard seeds and honey into a condiment at home is a delicious way to incorporate the seeds into your everyday diet.

Total Time: 5 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 24

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Soak the seeds overnight in the water.
  2. Place all the  ingredients in a blender and whip until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. Adjust flavors, to taste.
  4. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Feel free to experiment with this basic recipe, mixing in a few brown mustard seeds, swapping out the vinegar flavors or even substituting the honey for maple syrup. There’s no limit to the flavor profiles and combinations this basic raw mustard and honey dip recipe can bring to the table besides your palate and imagination. Add herbs like rosemary or cumin and garlic and shallots to create something totally new.

Adding a little turmeric to the recipe will add additional flavor and deepen the yellow color of the mustard.

Mustard Seed Oil

Mustard oil can be applied topically for its anti-inflammatory skin-boosting properties. Its tingle adds a warming sensation during massage. Mustard seed oil is also widely praised for its ability to grow hair and prevent grays.

Mustard oil is widely used in cooking across South Asia, but it’s restricted to external use only in the United States because of its high erucic acid content, which has been proven to cause heart disease in animals. While it hasn’t yet been shown to be dangerous to humans, it’s still not recommended for consumption in the U.S. until additional research has been done. Despite the warning, there are still fans who make their own mustard seed oil and use it as a base for curries, dressings and sauces.

It’s important to note there is a distinction between mustard-flavored oil, which can be made at home, and the oil extracted by pressing mustard seeds and extracting the oil, which is the type banned in the U.S. and elsewhere_._ Regardless of the type of mustard oil and its use, it’s a good idea to watch for allergies and test with a small amount for a reaction before using it.

How to Prepare Mustard Seed Oil

Mustard oil, which is pressed and extracted from mustard seeds, is available through retailers outside the U.S. But to use it as a topical treatment or as an ingredient for your Sunday dinner, you can make mustard oil at home.

Start with clean, dry mustard seeds. If the mustard seeds are a bit damp, setting them out in the sun is a good way to pull out the last bit of moisture. Next, select the carrier oil; for topical use, almond or coconut oil is a good choice. For cooking, clarified butter, olive oil and vegetable oil ‒ really any type of oil that you prefer ‒ will work.

Total Time: 60 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 16

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mustard seeds
  • 1 cup oil

Directions:

  1. Grind mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle or in a grinder.
  2. In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil.
  3. Add ground mustard seeds to the hot oil and cook until browned.
  4. Remove the pan fromthe heat and allow it to cool.5. Strain the cooled oil into a container.

Mustard Seed Substitutes

When you don’t have mustard seeds on hand, prepared mustard is a good option. There are a few other raw spices that provide the same pungent kick as mustard seeds that can make a good substitute, including turmeric, horseradish and wasabi.

Mustard seeds have a startling number of uses for taste, nutrition and more. It’s an ancient spice with strikingly modern everyday uses, making those tiny little seeds the true workhorse of the spice world.

About the Author

Becky Bracken

Becky Bracken is a lifestyle, parenting and real estate journalist who has written for outlets including Realtor, Babble, SheKnows, CafeMom, Complex and more.