All forms of this summertime staple -- brown, yellow, Dijon -- are made from the seeds of various mustard plants. No matter what type you use, you'll get a dose of good-for-you benefits: Mustard is rich in selenium, which plays a key role in thyroid function, and magnesium, which is crucial to bone health as well as energy.
Salt Smarts: Choose a mustard with no more than 100 mg sodium (130 for Dijon) per serving.
For an extra health boost, add a spoonful of mustard -- the seeds, spread, or powder -- to broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage dishes. Mustard contains myrosinase, an enzyme that activates a cancer-fighting compound in these vegetables.
Most yellow mustards get their brilliant hue from added turmeric, a spice known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies reveal that a compound in turmeric called curcumin may protect against Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and cancer.
With fewer than 5 calories per teaspoon, mustard is a low-cal way to take ordinary dishes from ho-hum to yum. Try these twists:
Start a Swap Substitute mustard for half the mayo in tuna and potato salads, use 1 Tbsp. honey mustard on corn on the cob instead of butter, or top baked potatoes with a dollop of whole grain mustard and a dab of sour cream.
Soup Up Salads Give basic vinaigrette a boost by whisking together 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 3⁄4 cup olive oil, and 1⁄4 cup vinegar (for about 10 servings). Reate a Crust Coat chicken or steak with mustard before cooking. The spread makes a flavorful crust that seals in juices, so the meat stays extra-moist.
SOURCES: David Grotto, R.D., author of The Best Things You Can Eat. Elizabeth Jeffery, Ph.D., professor of Nutritional Pharmacology at the University of Illinois. Barry Ievenson, founder of The National Mustard Museum.