Biji Sawi as your ‘functional food’
So what are mustard seeds?
Mustard seeds also known as ‘biji sawi’ in Malaysia. The seeds come from the flower pods. Also known as nutraceuticals, functional foods are highly nutritious and associated with a number of powerful health benefits. For example, they may protect against disease, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and promote proper growth and development. There are three types of mustard seeds; yellow, black and brown mustard seeds. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals such as rich in dietary fiber, natural antioxidants, omega-3, high in vitamins A, B6 and C and lastly polyphenol which are good for maintaining good health.
Health benefits from a few studies:
- Aids in weight loss – A tablespoon of mustard seeds everyday help to boost metabolism and thus help to aid in weight loss.
- Prevent cancer – The beneficial compounds such as glucosinolates and myrosinase present in these tiny seeds act as anticancer by preventing growth of cancer-causing cells in the body. Mustard seeds may have chemopreventive potential and may protect against the effect of carcinogens.
- Good for digestive system – The mustard seeds are packed with fiber which aids in digestion by helping bowel movement and enhances the digestive power of the body.
- Good for skin, bones, nails and teeth – the active minerals help in maintaining strong bones and strengthen nails, hair and teeth. While the vitamins help in keeping the skin hydrated and radiant.
- Provide relief from headache – Mustard seeds are packed with magnesium that relieves the pain and soothes the nerve system.
- Help treat psoriasis – Psoriasis is a skin disorder disease. Based on animal study, mustard seeds degraded imiquimod-induced psoriasiform inflammation.
How to use them?
Mustard seeds are popular across the world as functional food in different cuisines. It is considered the star as a pickling spice to make pickled vegetables such as turnips, gherkins, carrots and many others.
- Use a tempering cooking method by roast mustard seeds in warm oil for a few seconds. This method can be used for making curries and soups to release the natural flavors of mustard seed. Ensure to not burn them as they burn really fast in hot oil.
- Add a teaspoon or two of whole mustard seeds to make salad dressings, pickles or sauces.
- Use mustard seeds as marinades by crushing the mustard seed with other spices.
- Add a teaspoon of whole mustard seeds in dough while making savory breads.
In Malaysia, we often use black mustard seeds as functional food in fish curry, ‘acar buah’ and ‘ikan masak cuka’. The mustard seeds really enhance the flavor of these dishes.
Take home message
If you happen to be a serious cook or someone starting out on using spices, I would surely recommend adding mustard seeds to the collection. It does not matter whether you use yellow, brown or black seeds as they have the same use and similar flavor. Apart from the added texture and taste, you also gain the health benefits from it!