Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. nipposinica) is a leafy green vegetable that’s native to East Asia (1).
It’s also referred to as Japanese mustard greens, spider mustard, or konya (1).
Part of the Brassica genus, mizuna is related to other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
It has dark green, serrated leaves with thin stems and a peppery, slightly bitter flavor. While commonly grown for commercial salad mixes, it can also be enjoyed cooked or pickled.
This article reviews the most common varieties of mizuna, as well as its benefits and uses.
Interestingly, mizuna is one of just a few vegetables grown in space as part of an experiment on the International Space Station (
It’s generally easy to cultivate because it has a long growing season and does well in colder temperatures.
Currently, 16 varieties of mizuna, which vary in color and texture, have been identified. These include the following (3):
- Kyona. This variety has pencil-thin, white stocks with deeply serrated leaves.
- Komatsuna. This type has dark green, rounded leaves and was developed to be more resistant to heat and disease.
- Red Komatsuna. It’s similar to Komatsuna but with maroon leaves.
- Happy Rich. Perhaps the most unique, this kind is dark green and produces florets that resemble miniature heads of broccoli.
- Vitamin Green. This variety has deep green leaves and is more resistant to both hot and cold temperatures.
Regardless of the type, mizuna is rich in nutrients and makes for a punchy topping on your salad or sandwich.
There are 16 varieties of mizuna that vary in color and texture. Some are also better suited to temperature extremes.
There’s currently limited research on the specific benefits of mizuna. Yet, its individual nutrients — and brassica vegetables in general — have been associated with numerous health benefits.
Like kale, mizuna is low in calories but high in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K.
Two cups (85 grams) of raw mizuna provides (
- Calories: 21
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 222% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin K: more than 100% of the DV
- Calcium: 12% of the DV
- Iron: 6% of the DV
This leafy green is particularly high in vitamin A, which is important for maintaining healthy vision and a strong immune system (
Rich in antioxidants
Like many other cruciferous vegetables, mizuna is a rich source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage from unstable molecules called free radicals.
Excessive levels of free radicals can cause oxidative stress and increase your risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis (
Mizuna contains several antioxidants, including (
- Kaempferol. Test-tube studies reveal that this flavonoid compound has powerful anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects (
- Quercetin. A natural pigment in many fruits and vegetables, quercetin has been shown to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory properties (
- Beta carotene. This group of antioxidants may promote heart and eye health, as well as protect against certain cancers (
All the same, specific research is needed on mizuna itself.
Excellent source of vitamin K
Like other leafy greens, mizuna is high in vitamin K. In fact, 2 cups (85 grams) of this flavorful plant pack over 100% of the DV (5).
Vitamin K is best known for its roles in blood clotting and bone health.
It helps generate proteins involved in clotting, which limits bleeding from cuts or bruises (
Additionally, vitamin K is involved in bone formation by helping manage calcium deposition in your body, reducing the death of osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone growth), and expressing more bone-health-related genes (
Some studies suggest that vitamin K deficiency may increase your risk of osteoporosis, a condition that weakens your bones and raises your risk of fractures (
Good source of vitamin C
Mizuna is a surprisingly good source of vitamin C, offering 13% of the DV in just 2 raw cups (85 grams) (
This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant with several benefits, such as supporting your immune system, promoting collagen formation, and enhancing iron absorption (
What’s more, an analysis of 15 studies linked diets high in vitamin C to a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, compared with diets low in this vitamin (
Keep in mind that studies in other brassicas show that a significant amount of vitamin C is lost during cooking. While research hasn’t examined mizuna specifically, using shorter cooking times and not boiling in water may help you retain more of this vitamin (
Contains powerful cancer-fighting compounds
Mizuna provides antioxidants shown to have anticancer effects.
In particular, its kaempferol content may protect against this disease — and test-tube studies even note that this compound may aid cancer treatment (
Research also reveals that cruciferous vegetables like mizuna may significantly lower your cancer risk. However, studies in humans have observed mixed findings (
While these results are promising, more human research is needed.
May protect eye health
Mizuna boasts lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants important for eye health (
These compounds have been shown to protect your retina from oxidative damage and filter out potentially harmful blue light (
As a result, they may safeguard against age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide (
Furthermore, lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with a decreased risk of cataracts and diabetic retinopathy, two conditions that can damage your vision (
Mizuna is a leafy green vegetable that’s low in calories but high in antioxidants and several important vitamins — especially A, C, and K. It may bolster eye, bone, and immune health, among other benefits.
Although research is limited, mizuna isn’t associated with any serious side effects.
Nonetheless, eating too much could pose health problems for those with brassica vegetable allergies (
Due to its high vitamin K content, mizuna may interfere with blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin. Therefore, if you’re on blood thinners, you should talk to your healthcare provider before increasing your intake of foods rich in vitamin K (
Mizuna also contains oxalates, which may cause kidney stones in some individuals if consumed in high amounts. If you are prone to kidney stones, you may want to limit your intake (
Eating mizuna is safe for most people. However, large amounts may trigger side effects in those who take blood thinners or have a high risk of kidney stones.
Often described as a mix between arugula and mustard greens, mizuna has a mildly bitter, peppery taste that adds a subtle punch to raw and cooked dishes.
Mizuna can be used raw in salads. In fact, you may have even eaten it before, as it’s commonly added to packaged salad mixes.
It can also be enjoyed cooked by adding it to stir-fries, pasta dishes, pizzas, and soups. You can likewise pickle it for use as a condiment on sandwiches or grain bowls.
Whether you buy it at a farmer’s market or your local grocery store, fresh mizuna should be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Putting a paper towel in the bag can help draw out any excess moisture that could cause it to spoil.
Be sure to rinse the leaves well to wash away any dirt or debris before eating it.
Mizuna’s pleasant, peppery taste makes it great for pastas, pizzas, soups, and stir-fries. It’s edible raw or cooked but should always be washed beforehand.
Mizuna is a leafy green that’s low in calories but high in several important vitamins and antioxidants.
It may provide several health benefits, such as improved bone, immune, and eye health — and even anticancer effects.
While your local farmer’s market may carry it, you can also find it at Asian grocery stores.
All in all, mizuna is a simple and nutritious way to add a pop of flavor to your next salad or stir-fry.