Can Parrots Eat Mustard Seeds?

Pet parrots are incredibly intelligent and curious birds that thrive on variety in their diets. As a parrot owner, you likely want to provide your feathered friends with different healthy foods to keep them engaged and nourished. This leads many parrot owners to ask: can parrots eat mustard seeds?

Let’s take a closer look at whether these tiny seeds make a good addition to your parrot’s menu.

Can you feed mustard seeds to your parrot?

Yes, parrots can eat mustard seeds in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Mustard seeds provide protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other beneficial nutrients for parrots. They make for a zesty, crunchy treat.

Mustard seeds contain a compound called sinigrin that can be toxic in large quantities. So, it’s best to limit mustard seed intake to just 1-2 teaspoons per day for your parrot. Always supervise your parrot when serving mustard seeds.

Look for raw, whole mustard seeds and avoid prepared mustard, mustard powder or any mustard blends, as these are more concentrated and often contain added salt. Soak the mustard seeds in water overnight prior to feeding to reduce sinigrin content.

While nutritious, mustard seeds lack some amino acids essential for parrots. So, offer them sparingly, mixed into dishes rather than on their own. Provide plenty of fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains and nuts as well.

An Overview of Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds come from mustard plants, a diverse group of plants from the Brassica family. There are over 40 different varieties of mustard plants, with the 3 main types used to make the mustard we buy being:

  • White mustard (Brassica hirta)
  • Brown mustard (Brassica juncea)
  • Black mustard (Brassica nigra)

These edible mustard seeds are very small, measuring about 1-2 mm in size. They can be yellow, black, brown or white depending on the variety. Mustard seeds have been used for centuries as a culinary spice. When ground into a powder and mixed with water, vinegar or other liquids, they produce the condiment we know as mustard. Whole mustard seeds have a spicy, pungent flavor. They are common in Indian, Asian, and African cuisines.

Some key nutrients found in mustard seeds include:

  • Protein – 20-25%
  • Fat – 20-40%
  • Dietary fiber – 12%
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate

This nutritional profile makes mustard seeds a healthy addition for both parrots and birds when consumed in moderation. The fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients in mustard seeds provide some great health benefits.

Mustard Seeds 1

The Mustard Seed Advantage: How It Benefits Your Parrot’s Wellbeing

Here are some of the main ways mustard seeds can positively impact your parrot’s health:

A Source of Plant-Based Protein

The protein in mustard seeds comes from plants, making it a great option to boost your parrot’s intake of plant-based protein. Protein provides building blocks for growth and repair in the body and helps support your parrot’s muscles, feathers and beak condition.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Mustard seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s support skin and feather health in parrots. They can also promote a healthy heart, joints, beak and nails.

Dietary Fiber

The fiber in mustard seeds supports your parrot’s digestion and may help reduce the risk of obesity. Fiber keeps the digestive tract functioning smoothly.


Mustard seeds are rich in antioxidant compounds like glucosinolates, myrosinase, and carotenoids. Antioxidants help protect your parrot’s cells from damage and support a healthy immune system.

Vitamins and Minerals

Mustard seeds provide vitamins like A, E and K as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients support bone strength, oxygen circulation, nerve signaling and other bodily processes in parrots.

Can Mustard Seeds Harm Parrots?

While mustard seeds can be nutritious for parrots, feeding them does come with some precautions. Here are a few potential risks to keep in mind:

  • Allergies – Some parrots may be allergic or sensitive to compounds in mustard seeds. Signs can include itching, feather plucking, vomiting, diarrhea or respiratory distress. Discontinue use if you notice any adverse reactions.
  • Anti-nutrients – Mustard seeds contain glucosinolates which can impair iodine uptake and other anti-nutrients at high intakes. This makes moderation important.
  • Choking hazard – Whole mustard seeds pose a potential choking risk due to their small size. Grind seeds to reduce this danger.
  • High-fat content – The high-fat content of mustard seeds means they should be fed sparingly to prevent obesity and related issues.
  • Salmonella risk – Mustard seeds may be contaminated with salmonella. Be sure to thoroughly wash seeds before feeding.

To be safe, introduce mustard seeds slowly and watch for signs of discomfort. Consult an avian vet if concerned about any effects. Usually feeding mustard seeds in moderation along with a balanced diet is considered safe for parrots.

How to Safely Feed Mustard Seeds to Parrots?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits and potential risks of feeding mustard seeds to parrots, let’s look at some tips for serving them safely. There are a few things you can do when incorporating mustard seeds into your parrot’s diet to maximize benefits while minimizing any dangers.

Grind Mustard Seeds

Whole mustard seeds pose a risk of choking due to their tiny size. To reduce this hazard, it’s best to grind mustard seeds into a coarse powder before serving them to your parrot. You can use a coffee grinder, spice grinder or mortar and pestle to easily grind a small batch of seeds.

Just give them a few pulses or grinds to break them down into smaller pieces while keeping some texture.

Mix with Other Foods

Rather than offering mustard seeds on their own, mix the ground seeds into your parrot’s regular food. This will prevent your bird from overindulging in the high-fat seeds. You can sprinkle some mustard powder over chop mixes, vegetables, sprouts, pellets or other nutritious foods your parrot enjoys. The mustard gives their meals more flavor and nutrition.

Go Slow with Introductions

When offering a new food like mustard seeds, take it slowly at first. Start with just a pinch of ground mustard mixed thoroughly into your parrot’s food. Gradually increase the amount every few days if they don’t show any signs of allergic reaction or digestive upset.

Pay attention to their droppings, behavior and food intake. Going slow gives their body time to adjust.

Feed Occasionally

While nutritious, mustard seeds should be an occasional treat rather than a daily menu item. Feed them just a few times per week at most. Variety is important, so rotate mustard seeds with other healthy seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies and lean proteins your parrot eats. This prevents them from ingesting too many of the anti-nutrients found in mustard seeds.

By grinding them, mixing them with other foods, slowly introducing them, and feeding mustard seeds in moderation, you can allow your parrot to safely enjoy their nutritional benefits.

Mustard Seeds 2

Recommended Dishes to Serve with Mustard Seeds

Here are some healthy recipes integrating small amounts of mustard seeds into your parrot’s meals:

  • Chopped Veggie Salad – Toss mustard seeds with diced sweet potato, kale, carrot and zucchini.
  • Brown Rice – Mix a teaspoon of soaked mustard seeds into freshly cooked brown rice.
  • Fruit Salad – Sprinkle a few mustard seeds onto chopped pineapple, apple, and grapes.
  • Sprouted Grains – Top sprouted quinoa or wheat berries with mustard seeds before serving.
  • Diced Tofu – Sauté bites of tofu with a sprinkle of mustard seed for flavor.


Parrots can eat mustard seeds as part of a balanced diet. The small seeds provide protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and an array of vitamins and minerals that support a parrot’s health. However, mustard seeds also come with some risks, including potential allergies, anti-nutrients, choking hazards and high-fat content.

By taking some safety precautions, like grinding the seeds thoroughly, mixing them into other foods, slowly introducing them, and feeding occasionally and in moderation, parrot owners can allow their birds to enjoy mustard seeds without issue.

Supervise carefully when offering any new food item and stop feeding anything that causes vomiting, diarrhea or other negative symptoms in your parrot. Overall, mustard seeds can make a fine supplemental addition to a varied diet for parrots when fed prudently.

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