We’ve all heard how incredible leafy green vegetables are for your health: high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and yet low in calories. They’re usually considered an unlimited food choice regardless of diet, so it’s useful to learn how to incorporate various options into your eating habits.
If you’re on such a mission, there’s a good chance you’ll run into both collard greens and mustard greens as you explore your options.
So what is the difference between mustard and collard greens? The main difference is that mustard greens are considered an herb while collard greens are part of the cabbage family. Their flavors are also vastly different, and they each contain various levels of vitamins and minerals.
Having leaves, plenty of nutrition and being the color green are about the only similarities these two plants share, so before you chow down, it’s a good idea to learn a bit more about the differences between collard greens and mustard greens – primarily, they’re respective flavor profiles. This article will answer all your questions and probably a few you didn’t even think to ask.
What Are Collard Greens
Collard greens are large, thick leafy greens in the brassica family, along with cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard. The name collard comes from the less appetizing Greek word, “colewort,” which simply means wild cabbage.
They can grow up to 2 feet tall, but they get tougher the larger they are. Collard greens are commonly available in most supermarkets year-round, and when you’re shopping for them you want to find a bunch that is a deep, rich green without any dried edges or holes.
Almost all conventionally grown greens are sprayed frequently with insecticides, so if you can find them organic, it’s a good time to invest in this upgrade.
If not, be sure to wash the leaves well, using a solution of vinegar water if possible. The leaves are dense and will stand up to a good wash, unlike their cousin spinach that wilts just looking at water.
What Are Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are actually considered an herb, even though they’re a member of the brassica family of vegetables, along with collard greens. They have a very powerful flavor, which is a good indicator that they also have a very powerful nutritional profile.
Mustard greens begin as the seeds that we know best for their potential to create one of the world’s favorite condiments: mustard. At every stage of growth, mustard greens are edible, tasty and extremely healthy.
Many people also enjoy sprouting their seeds and eating them much like any other type of sprouts, such as alfalfa or broccoli sprouts. The longer the seeds grow, the larger the leaves will become.
They’re quite easy to grow for yourself, but depending on where you live, there’s a good chance you can find either sprouts or greens at your local grocery store or possibly specialty health food store.
Health Comparison of Collard Greens to Mustard Greens
Both collard greens and mustard greens are very nutritional additions to your salads, sautés or even juices, but you may be wondering how they compare to each other, gram for gram, vitamin for vitamin.
|Per 1 Cup, Raw Chopped||Collard Greens||Mustard Greens|
||Grams||% Daily Value||Grams||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||
This chart isn’t all-encompassing, but it shows the nutrients that are most impressive. Vitamin K plays a key role in bone health, Vitamin A helps maintain youthful skin and eyes, Vitamin C improves and protects your immune system, and folate keeps your blood and bones healthy, and plays a part in healthy aging – from birth and long into maturity.
In addition to the vitamins and minerals, you also get an extraordinary dose of phytonutrients and antioxidants when you eat your greens. These micronutrients help bolster your immune system, fight harmful bacteria and germs, and decrease your risk of almost all diseases.
Collard greens, as part of the cabbage family, also have sulfur-rich compounds called glucosinolates, which is a scientific way of saying that they have been linked to a variety of health benefits ranging from basic immune support all the way to cancer prevention.
Mustard greens have also been researched in relation to cancer prevention, however, and have been shown to reduce oxidative stress. You may have heard of the dangers of free radicals. Eating your mustard greens can help you defend against them.
Green plants are all typically rich in chlorophyll as well, which is helps keep your internal self clean and hygienic.
Glutathione is another common and highly beneficial component of both of these greens and many others. It is a type of peptide that helps your body efficiently process fat and keep your liver functioning well. It’s very closely linked to living a long and healthy life.
How to Use Collard Greens and Mustard Greens
Collard greens and mustard greens, though quite different in flavor, are often used in many of the same preparation styles. Here are a few options to get you started:
Eating Collard Greens and Mustard Greens Raw
- Chop them up to add to a beautiful, flavorful garden salad with a citrus dressing
- Juice or blend them into your morning smoothie
- Add mustard greens to your sandwich for a bit of spice and/or wrap your flour wrap for a large collard green
- Swap iceberg lettuce out on your burgers or in your tacos, just chop up your collard and mustard greens well to make them easier to bite into
- Slice thinly, along with some peppers and carrots and make a spring roll
- Use a food processor to blend your greens with cream cheese or sour cream and some roasted garlic for a delicious dip or spread
- Make appetizers of crackers topped with greens and your favorite cheese or olive spread
Cooking with Collard Greens and Mustard Greens
- Chop up finely and add to an omelet or egg/tofu scramble
- Add to soup, either chopped up or blended after cooking for a creamy consistency
- Sauté with your favorite veggies and some sesame oil and layer over rice
- Steam and then drench (or drizzle) with garlic butter or garlic olive oil
- Chop up finely and add to your burger patties, ground meat or meat alternatives or veggie-based sauces
- Instead of making creamed spinach, make creamed mustard or collard greens
- Chop up, mist with an olive oil spray and season and then crisp in the oven like kale chips
- Add to rich and flavorful African curry dishes or as a nutritional boost to a gravy
- Make a soulful, southern dish by sautéing your greens with onion and bacon
Do collard greens and mustard greens taste the same?
Collard greens taste absolutely nothing like the fiery greens that come from mustard seeds. Collard greens are part of the cabbage family and taste more similar to other leafy salad greens that you might be used to, such as kale.
Collard greens are quite mild in flavor, though get a bit more bitter as they age, and work well either chopped up raw for salads or sautéed.
Mustard greens, on the other hand, have quite the kick to them.
Mustard greens are surprisingly spicy, so you want to have a light touch when you’re adding them to your salads or cooking with them. The potency will vary, depending on how they were grown and how old they are, so take a sample before deciding how much to use in your dish.
Can you substitute collard greens for mustard greens and vice versa?
Collard greens and mustard greens, as just mentioned, have a very different flavor, so they don’t make a great substitution.
If you have a recipe that calls for collard greens, try instead kale, chard, or spinach. If you are missing mustard greens, radish sprouts would be the closest alternative in flavor.
How do you get the bitterness out of mustard greens?
With any green leafy vegetable that you find a bit too bitter for your tastes, the best way to cut the bitterness is by adding a salt or acid.
If you’re cooking your greens, season with salt or a salty condiment such as miso or soy sauce. If you’re eating them raw, try squeezing some fresh lemon or lime over the greens.
Can you eat raw mustard greens?
Yes, you can absolutely eat raw mustard greens, at almost any stage in their life cycle.
Mustard seeds are used to make mustard, you can sprout them for mustard sprouts, or let them continue to grow into larger leaves to add to your salads and sandwiches.
You can even juice them for a peppery punch to your morning juice.
Are collard greens healthier than spinach or kale?
It’s hard to go wrong with eating any leafy green vegetable, but if you’re keeping score, both spinach and kale outperform collard greens in most areas.
Variety is the spice of life, however, and it’s always good for your health and interest levels to change things up occasionally, so there’s no reason you can’t incorporate all three of these fantastic super greens into your salads, juices and/or stir-fries.