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MEDICAL INSIGHTS: Mustard, anyone?

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David Keisler

David Keisler

For proper nutrition and optimal health we need not only adequate calories from protein, carbohydrates and fats but also other nutrients and micronutrients. A short list would include vitamins, electrolytes, minerals and even phytochemicals. Most of these nutrients are consumed at mealtime and many are present in a variety of plants such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beef, poultry and fish.

There is a condiment that will spice up your food and one which also contains several micronutrients. This condiment is mustard and it has also been assumed to have several health benefits.

Mustard paste is made by grinding the seeds of the mustard plant and then adding other spices as well as fluid such as vinegar or even the juice of grapes. The entire plant is edible yet the seeds, which are either yellow, brown or black, are used to produce mustard. These seeds contain several nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium which is an antioxidant.

An few of the presumed benefits of eating mustard include reduction of blood pressure, relieving muscle spasms and helping to treat arthritis. Because of the presence of calcium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, mustard could strengthen bones and teeth. Mustard oil has been used to create a mustard plaster which when rubbed on the chest aids in minimizing congestion.

Mustard is one of the most commonly grown spices in the world. It may have originated in ancient Egypt and was used by the Romans as a condiment. Other plants related to mustard include broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and cabbage. Mustard has been used as an appetite stimulant, asthma suppressant, hair growth stimulant and treatment for some forms of dermatitis.

Turmeric is added to mustard to spice up the taste and also to enhance the yellow color. Over 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed globally per year.

Because of its antibacterial properties and acidity, mustard does not need to be refrigerated. Mustard is second only to pepper as a preferred food topping in this country. Aug. 1 is National Mustard Day in the U.S. and there is even a National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. Americans were the first to put mustard on hotdogs in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair.

It is nice to know that a classic condiment such as mustard has health benefits. I recommend that you try several brand to determine which one is your favorite, however there are over 5,000 mustards in the National Mustard Museum.

Pythagorus recommended mustard as a treatment for scorpion stings and Hippocrates used a mustard plaster to treat toothaches and chest colds. Who knows? Maybe you can come up with a new use for this interesting condiment. A mustard-loving grandkid inspired this article.

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