Experiences - Asia

Chinese New Year Food – Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are a standard vegetable used in CNY celebrations. They are commonly known as Jie Cai, but in the context of the New Year, they are labeled as Chang Nian Cai which translates to perennial vegetables. They can’t be overcooked and so they’re an ideal symbol of long life. They also symbolise Money.

Mustard greens

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

You’re expected to eat the entire vegetable and the homonym for this is chang chang jiu jiu or longevity as it symbolises good health and a long life. Mustard greens can be found at almost every Chinese restaurant and at Asian grocery stores.

Mustard greens (Changnian Cai) are one of the most overlooked, yet delicious, vegetables in the produce section. With beautifully varied colors, succulent stems, and culinary versatility, they are a great addition to the kitchen. They also happen to be extremely nutritious, packing huge amounts of vitamins and minerals into relatively few calories. Eating mustards regularly will diversify your nutrient intake, give you more energy, and add a unique splash of color to almost any dish you cook.

Chinese Mustard greens

Image Courtesy: stu_spivack used under the Creative Commons Licence

Health Benefits of Mustard Greens:

High in Antioxidants – Among leafy vegetables, mustard greens provide some of the highest concentrations of three powerful antioxidants: vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Detoxification – The antioxidants and sulfur-containing nutrients in mustard greens help boost phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification activities in the body.

Heart Health – Mustard greens support cardiovascular health in a variety of ways. They help reduce cholesterol levels, support the detox and inflammation systems in the body and offer good amounts of foliate.

Anti-Inflammatory – Preventing chronic inflammation is essential in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, arthritis and more. Vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids are two essential anti-inflammatory agents found in mustard greens.

Dietary Fiber – Mustard greens are a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes good colon health, regulates the metabolism and aids in digestion.

Eye Health – Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of vitamin A have been linked with strengthening the eyes and the prevention of macular degeneration.

Bone Health – A good source of both calcium and potassium, mustard greens may help promote good bone health and help prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Weight Loss – Highly nutritious, low calorie foods may help aid in weight loss. Vegetables with good amounts of dietary fiber such as mustard greens help regulate the metabolism and maintain a healthy body weight.

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