Mizuna, which means watery vegetable in Japanese, isn’t the most creative name for this leafy green, but it’s nonetheless an accurate descriptor of this versatile plant. It has a mildly peppery flavor that gives it versatility in the kitchen and health benefits to keep you healthy all year long. Keep reading to learn more about mizuna health benefits and how to add them to your meals every day!
What is Mizuna
Mizuna is a serrated dark leafy green vegetable and a variety of mustard greens. It’s also referred to as spider mustard, Japanese mustard green, water greens, and kyona.
It’s native to East Asia and belongs to the brassica family, which can also be referred to as the cruciferous vegetable. Mizuna is closely related to the vegetables belonging to the same family, such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.
It’s full of flavor with a slightly bitter and peppery flavor, always likened to arugula. It’s also rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Top 10 Mizuna Health Benefits
1. They are rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicles in the body that might otherwise cause cell damage if left to accumulate.
Specific antioxidants in mizuna include:
Quercetin – A flavonoid antioxidant and a potent anti-inflammatory compound present in many plant foods.
Kaempferol – A polyphenol antioxidant present in vegetables and fruits. Best known for their ability to reduce chronic diseases, including cancer.
Beta carotene – A compound that gives vegetables their orange, yellow, and red color. It’s converted into vitamin A (retinol) in the body, which plays an essential role in protecting against cancer and promoting eye and heart health.
2. Supports bone health
Mizuna is rich in vitamin K with just a cup providing 348 percent of your daily requirement.
Vitamin K is commonly known to support blood clotting processes. However, this vitamin also plays a vital role in bone metabolism.
Vitamin K promotes bone cell formation by stimulating bone cell differentiation, further increasing bone formation markers.
It also regulates calcium deposition (calcification) in the bones while preventing the same from being deposited in the arteries and kidneys. This helps promote bone mineral density, including in old age, which lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
Moreover, studies show that a high intake of vitamin K can reduce the risk of fractures. Other studies confirm that this benefit may also be beneficial in some populations, such as postmenopausal women.
To further enhance these benefits, ensure you get enough calcium and vitamin D.
3. Promotes eye health
Mizuna is rich in vitamin A with a cup serving providing up to 118 percent of the daily requirement.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and a component of the protein rhodopsin, which allows one to see under low light. That’s why a deficiency can lead to night blindness. Consuming foods rich in vitamin A, such as mizuna, is one way to enhance rhodopsin’s function in maintaining the eye’s normal functions.
Common deficiency symptoms include dry eyes and skin, hazy vision, night blindness, and total blindness that may occur in severe cases.
Mizuna is also rich in lutein, a carotenoid with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s often referred to as the “eye vitamin” because it’s one of the major carotenoids in the eye.
Lutein is known to improve vision and prevent age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in old age. It may also prevent cataract formation.
4. Improves the immune system
High antioxidant compounds in mizuna may help strengthen your immune system.
Vitamin C is one of those antioxidants, and it has been shown to support the immune system, first, by helping the white blood cells work more effectively in protecting the body against infections.
Secondly, vitamin C protects white blood cells from potentially harmful substances like free radicals.
Thirdly, vitamin C is transported to the skin, where it strengthens the skin barrier by acting as an antioxidant.
A cup serving of mizuna provides 65 percent of the daily vitamin C requirements. This is quite a lot coming from one source, and you may only require one or two more vitamin C sources to meet your daily needs optimally.
Vitamin C can also reduce wound healing and reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections.
5. Supports blood clotting
Mizuna is rich in vitamin K, a significant nutrient involved in the body’s coagulation processes. Coagulation is the process by which a blood clot forms. This is essential to prevent excessive bleeding.
Clot formation also allows the healing process to begin. With low vitamin K levels, this process can’t occur. In such cases, there can be significant bleeding even with a small cut. One may also easily experience bruises.
In addition to mizuna, dark leafy vegetables are generally high in vitamin K and will be of great addition.
6. Reduce the risk of cancer
The antioxidants in mizuna, such as kaempferol, may offer various anti-cancer benefits.
In one study, researchers found that kaempferol can effectively hinder the growth of pancreatic cells and prevent its spread to other parts of the body.
In another study, consuming brassica (cruciferous) vegetables, mizuna being one, was associated with a reduced risk for prostate cancer.
However, specific studies on mizuna need to be conducted to confirm these benefits.
7. Promotes cardiovascular health
The antioxidants in mizuna help keep cholesterol levels in check and improve overall cardiovascular function. Additionally, the potassium found in mizuna can help to lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. Regular consumption of mizuna can also help to reduce the risk of stroke and other heart-related diseases.
8. Supports bone health
Mizuna is rich in calcium. Calcium is an important mineral for bone health, and studies have shown that a diet rich in calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. In addition to calcium, mizuna is a good source of other minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, which are also crucial in boosting bone density.
In addition, mizuna contains a good amount of vitamin K, which helps in the production of bone cells and bone mineralization.
9. It may help fight diabetes
Mizuna is a good source of magnesium, which is necessary for insulin action and blood sugar control. In fact, one study showed that magnesium deficiency may worsen type 2 diabetes. Therefore, eating mizuna may help fight diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels in check.
Mizuna is also a good source of fiber. Fiber can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which is important for blood sugar control. Additionally, fiber helps promote regularity and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
10. Supports liver functions
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood, converting food into energy, and producing bile to help with digestion. Mizuna has been shown to help improve these liver functions.
In a study done on rats, it was found that mizuna increased the production of enzymes that detoxify the blood and protect the liver from damage.
When mizuna extract was given to mice exposed to acetaminophen, the extract helped them recover more quickly than those who were not given it. Mizuna also improved the excretion of aminotransferases (liver-damaging enzymes) after exposure to high doses of acetaminophen.
Unique Ways to Add Mizuna to Your Diet
Mizuna can add some spicy, peppery flavor to salads and stir-frys, but it’s also delicious in more subtle ways that are often overlooked. Try incorporating mizuna into your meals in some of these unique ways to maximize the benefits you get from this superfood.
Toss with asparagus, olive oil, and lemon juice
Asparagus and mizuna can make a great match. The bitterness of the mizuna pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the asparagus, and the acidity of the lemon juice helps to brighten everything up. This dish is simple but elegant, and makes a great side or as part of a light main course.
Use it as a pizza topping
You can use mizuna as a pizza topping in place of traditional greens like spinach or kale. The slightly bitter taste of mizuna pairs well with rich and savory toppings like sausage or mushrooms. Plus, the delicate leaves won’t weigh down your pizza or make it soggy. Here’s how to do it:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread a thin layer of mizuna over your favorite pizza dough. Top with your desired toppings (sausage, pepperoni, olives, pineapple). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling on top. Slice and enjoy!
Stir-fry with sesame oil, garlic, green onion, and chili paste
One of the most popular ways to cook mizuna is in a stir-fry. This dish is traditionally made with sesame oil, garlic, green onion, and chili paste. To make it, simply heat up a pan on medium-high heat and add in your oil of choice. Then, add in the garlic and green onion and cook until fragrant. Finally, add in the mizuna and chili paste and cook until the greens are wilted. Serve with rice or noodles for a complete meal.
Turn into pesto
Mizuna pesto is a great way to add a flavorful, slightly spicy kick to your dishes. To make it, simply combine mizuna leaves, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. You can use it as a pasta sauce, on pizza, or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or veggies.
Use it as a garnish on salads
Mizuna makes a beautiful and colorful garnish on salads. Simply tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle them over your salad. And don’t worry, the mild flavor of mizuna will not overpower the other flavors in your salad.
Add it to soups and stews
Mizuna is a versatile green that can be used in a variety of dishes. One great way to use it is to add it to soups and stews. It’s a perfect way to add some extra greens to your diet. Again, its mild flavor won’t overpower the other flavors in your soup or stew.
Put it in pasta dishes
One of the easiest ways to work mizuna into your diet is by adding it to pasta dishes. You can use it as a replacement for spinach in recipes or mix it with other greens.
Make homemade pickles with mizuna
Pickling is a great way to preserve the fresh flavor of mizuna for later use. And it’s easy to do at home! Simply wash and trim the mizuna, then place it in a jar with vinegar, water, and your favorite spices. Let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours before enjoying it. You can also add carrots or other vegetables to the mix if you want a variety of flavors.
- Wash and trim the mizuna into strips.
- In a large bowl, layer salt with mizuna and garlic, and toss them together with your hands.
- Press the mizuna and garlic down with your hand, and cover the bowl with a towel.
- Allow the bowl to sit for 30 minutes.
- Remove the towel and press the mizuna down with clean hands.
- Pack a clean jar with the salted mizuna.
- Once the jar is tightly packed, pour water slowly into the jar and fill leaving 1 inch below the top of the jar.
- Cover the jar with a lid. Allow fermenting at room temperature for 2 days, burping and pressing down the mizuna daily.
- Store the jar in a cool place.
Throw it In Smoothies or Juice
If you’re looking for a way to add some extra greens to your diet, try throwing mizuna into your next smoothie or green juice. You can also use in place of spinach or kale in most recipes.
To keep your mizuna fresh longer, always keep them in a plastic bag, including a paper towel, to draw any excess moisture. This can last for 3-4 days.
Depending on your location, mizuna can be difficult to get in regular grocery stores, but you can find it in most Asian grocery stores.
Nonetheless, arugula can be a great substitute as their taste and nutritional profiles are almost similar.
Mizuna has not been shown to cause any significant side effects. However, due to its high vitamin K levels, it may interfere with blood-thinning medications. You may first want to discuss this with your doctor if you are on any of this medication.
Most cruciferous vegetables like mizuna tend to be high in oxalates, so you may want to keep your intake low if you have kidney stones.
Besides these few concerns, mizuna is relatively safe for most people to consume freely.
Final thoughts on mizuna:
Mizuna is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegetable from the cruciferous family.
It has been shown to promote several health benefits, including promoting healthy bones, improving the immune system, promoting eye health, reducing cancer risk, and supporting blood clotting processes.
Mizuna can be difficult to get in some parts, but you’re more likely to find it in Asian grocery stores.
Otherwise, they can help add an extra flavor to your dishes. Mizuna has a mild flavor that balances salty, sweet, and spicy ingredients, making it ideal for soups, stir-fries, salads, and other dishes that incorporate those flavors.
More green vegetables:
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