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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.

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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.

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1. They are rich in antioxidants

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Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicles in the body that might otherwise cause cell damage if left to accumulate.

The specific antioxidants in mizuna include:

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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, with other studies confirming that this benefit may also be beneficial in some populations, such as postmenopausal women.

To further enhance these benefits, also ensure you are getting 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 the function of rhodopsin in maintaining normal functions of the eye.

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.

© Provided by Healthier Steps bunch of mizuna on a white background

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.

How to use mizuna?

Mizuna is a versatile vegetable that can be added to various recipes, including

  • Add in raw salads such as fresh lettuce
  • Enjoy cooked mizuna by adding in pasta dishes, stir-fries, soup, pizzas, and stews
  • Pickled mizuna can be used as a condiment for grain bowls and sandwiches to maintain

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.

Risk factors?

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 the Asian grocery stores.

Otherwise, they can help add an extra flavor to your dishes.

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