History of Mustard seeds and its cultivation

History of Mustard seeds and its cultivation

BY : Devinka Seneviratne

Mustard seeds and its usage dates to Sumerian and Sanskrit texts from 3000BC[1]. The initial cultivation of this plant was known to be by the Indus Civilisation of 2500-1700 BCE (Encyclopedia Britannica) [2]. The Indus Valley Civilisation was a bronze age civilization of the northern regions of South East Asia. Lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. Together with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of the early civilisations of the Near East and South Asia, and three of the most widespread as its sites spanned an area stretching from Northeast Afghanistan through to Pakistan and into North Western India. The Romans however, were the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. And by the 10th century the monks of St-Germain-des-Pres in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production.

Brown Mustard which you consume in ‘Miris Gourmet Mustard’ is a branch of the Brassica Juncea or Brassica Nigra (black mustard). “Different parts of the plant are obtained to treat a wide variety of human ailments. Mustard seeds are a good source of protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients, and can have several health benefits acting as an antibacterial, antimicrobial, antidiabetic etc.”[3] 


The reason mustard seeds are considered as a good source of protein, is due to its’ protein efficiency ratio (PER) of 2.64, which is higher when compared to soybean[4] which has a PER between 1.8 – 2.3 depending on the soy-based food it is found in[5]. When looking at the most common form of protein, most people attain to take Whey or Casein protein, the comparison in PER for Whey is 3 – 3.2, whilst Casein is approximately 2.9[6].  Although, mustard is rarely used in large quantities so it is not a protein replacement on its own yet can be used to make nutrient-dense food more flavoursome.


Mustard seeds are known to contain approx. 12g of dietary fibre in every 100g of seeds.
In Australia, a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, shows that four in five adults do not meet their daily fibre targets based on the adequate intake or SDT (No - its not STD, I stated SDT = SUGGESTED DIETARY TARGET), which women should be intaking 28g of whilst men should attain for 38g per day[7]. These statistics are quite like those from countries like the United States and other Western cultures as most adults are under the daily adequate intake. Dietary fibre is essential for proper functioning of the gut and has been related to risk-reduction for several chronic diseases including heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes[8]. The issue for most adults is that approximately 45% of dietary fibre comes from breads and the other is cereal foods[9]. Which with chronic digestive disorders increasing over the years like Celiac disease, adults are finding it harder to consume fibres therefore are becoming more susceptible to low-fibre diet disorders like constipation and IBS as a norm in their daily lives[10].   


What are phytonutrients? Phytonutrients (a.k.a. phytochemicals) are chemicals produced by plants. Plants use phytonutrients to stay healthy; such as protect the plant from insect attacks while other plants protect themselves against radiation from UV rays. “Among the benefits of phytonutrients for humans is its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Phytonutrients may also enhance immunity and intercellular communication, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins and detoxify carcinogens. The US department of Agriculture (USDA), notes that consuming a phytonutrient rich diet seems to be an effective strategy for reducing cancer and heart disease risks”[11]. Mustard seeds contain plentiful amounts of phytonutrients called glucosinolates. The seeds also contain myrosines enzymes that can break apart the glucosinolates into other phytonutrients called isothiocynates[12]. The most important things about phytonutrient compound is its ability to protect against gastrointestinal cancer.


So why use or consume mustard? Small doses of such seeds in our daily consumption is a bonus to our overall health and wellbeing.  So why not give our stomach every advantage or help it needs to fight any bad bacteria in our gut which will not only reduce inflammation but eventually help with overall well-being over time. Yet, keep in mind consuming mustard alone will not compensate for a generally unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.

[1] "What is Mustard?". Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission. Mustard Consumer Website. SMDC 2011. Web. 16 March 2016 <https://web.archive.org/web/20160325032401/http://www.saskmustard.com/consumer/mustard/index.html

[2] "Indus civilization". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 16 March 2016 <http://www.britannica.com/topic/Indus-civilization

[3] “Mustard is a Miracle Seed to Human Health”, Ethnopharmacological Investigation of Indian Spices by Mamta Sahu and Suman Devi. IGI Global Publisher Web 3 July 2020 <https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/mustard-is-a-miracle-seed-to-human-health/252455

[4] ^ [reference 3]

[5] “Foods with a High Protein Efficiency Ratio” by Don Amerman. Web 3 July 2020 <https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-high-protein-efficiency-ratio-1288.html

[6] ^ [reference 5]

[7] Dietary Fibre Intake in Australia. Paper 1: Association with Demographic, Socio-Economic, and Anthropometric Factors. Publish 10 May 2018  <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986479/>

[8] Dietary Fibre: Australian Government – National Health and Medical Research Council. <https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/dietary-fibre>

[9] ^ [reference 8]

[10] Fibre in Food: Better health Channel. <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food#:~:text=Most%20Australians%20do%20not%20consume,g%20of%20fibre%20each%20day.>

[11] What are Phytonutrients – Jessie Szalay; Live Science 21 Oct 2015 < https://www.livescience.com/52541-phytonutrients.html>

[12] Mustard Seeds < http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=106#:~:text=Phytonutrient%20Compounds%20Protective%20Against%20Gastrointestinal,into%20other%20phytonutrients%20called%20isothiocyanates.>