Mustard could be your new best friend at the BBQ
Before you load your next burger or hot dog up with ketchup, relish, mayo, or other typical cookout condiments, you should probably give that yellow stuff a second look. Why? It's not just a tangy, salty topping for popular dishes— it has real virtues. In fact, the health benefits of mustard outweigh most other popular BBQ-season condiments like mayo, relish, and ketchup.
"Mustard is a good source of antioxidant-rich plant compounds called polyphenols, which help to keep blood vessels flexible and healthy," explains Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, aka The VibrantDoc a recognized leader in functional medicine focused on integrative, regenerative, anti-aging, and natural medicine modalities who splits her time between Phoenix, Arizona and Chicago, Illinois. Her new self-care book Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Reverse Aging, and Glow, discusses the many benefits of the foods we ingest and use topically.
Mustard, the yellow stuff most commonly used on hot dogs and pretzels in America, is one of those foods you can add to the list of surprisingly healthy things we already know and love like blueberries, turmeric, tomatoes, and kale— and obviously, it's a great way to add both flavor and color to already-healthy meals. Dr. Stephenson outlines some of the greatest health benefits of mustard below:
"Mustard is a good source of antioxidant-rich plant compounds called polyphenols," she says, "Which help to keep blood vessels flexible and healthy. This is good for heart health as well as blood pressure. Of all the parts of the mustard plant, including the leaves, the seeds (which are ground to make the yellow mustard condiments as we know it) are the most potent source of polyphenols."
You may have heard of polyphenols before from foods that have better publicity, including dark chocolate and red wine. In this case, you can skip the drink and go straight to mustard-topped leafy greens or mustard-based vinaigrette over fresh veggies. Or heck, go all in and have the glass of red wine too. We're not judging.
Mustard 4-pack, available here
Mustard may improve digestion.
"Mustard stimulates the digestive juices, which can help you digest your food more completely," says Stacie of this classic favorite. "It has been used in this capacity since ancient Greece, and this appears to be one ancient remedy that really works. For best effect, have a bit of mustard as a condiment on an appetizer at the beginning of a meal."
Eating more mustard could help with weight loss.
Well this is exciting, isn't it? Now you can add mustard to your fitness routine in addition to these upgraded sleep habits for weight loss. "Mustard not only stimulates healthy digestion but it also may boost thermogenesis (fat burning) and increase metabolism, which could help your body burn more of the calories from your meals, and one study showed that mustard could help incinerate body fat. It’s also very low in calories, so if you replace your regular butter, mayonnaise, or ketchup with mustard, you can cut a lot of fat and calories out of your meal without changing what you are eating."
This isn't an excuse to replace healthy dinners with mustard-topped hot dogs, though. Stick to healthy meals and add some mustard. It's that simple.
Mustard is anti-bacterial.
If ever there was a popular time to talk about germ-busting foods, it's now. "Mustard contains anti-bacterial properties that could reduce the chances of infection with pathogens like e. coli, so while I would never recommend eating any food that you even suspect could be spoiled, a bit of mustard with your meal could potentially protect you, just in case," says Dr. Stephenson.
In fact, some sociologists and food historians actually believe mustard caught on as a popular condiment in the Middle Ages. Why? Well, its relative protective and anti-bacterial properties in an era when refrigeration just wasn't a thing made it pretty spectacular.
Are you a fan of mustard? We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.