Mustard oil is used extensively for cooking in North Indian cuisine. It has a strong pungent aroma and the high smoking point makes it ideal for cooking. Apart from culinary uses, it is also widely used for hair and skin care and we also use it in home remedies too. Mustard essential oil which is steam distilled from mustard seeds is also widely used all over the world for its therapeutic properties.
What Is Mustard Oil?
Mustard oil is a strong pungent oil extracted from mustard seeds. Though it is widely consumed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, mustard oil is banned in many parts of the world due to its high erucic acid content and some countries also have imposed an upper limit for erucic acid to be consumed. In India, mustard oil is mainly used in North India, here in South India we never use mustard oil for cooking, we mainly use only coconut oil or sesame oil.
Mustard Oil Common Indian Names:
It is called Sarso Ka Tel in Hindi, Kadugu Ennai in Tamil, Kadugu Enna in Malayalam, Sorisha Tela in Oriya, Rai nu Tel in Gujarati, Avala Nune in Telugu, Sasive Enne in Kannada and Sarisa Tela in Oriya.
Mustard Oil Nutrition:
100 grams mustard oil contains around 884 calories and 100 grams of fat. It contains around 30 to 40 % erucic acid, 9 % linolenic acid, 10 % linoleic acid and 20 to 28 % oleic acid, this amount varies from crop to crop slightly.
Mustard Oil Benefits & Medicinal Uses
1. Mustard Oil For Weight Loss
I found an interesting study done in North India which looked into 2 health surveys done by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) regarding the usage of cooking oils and obesity. It was quite large survey which included 638445 women and 92312 women. Mustard oil was the predominantly consumed oil which accounted for 51% followed by refined oils. The combined study of both the surveys showed that obesity in both men and women were lower in households who consumed mustard oil predominantly.
2. Mustard Oil and Heart Disease
Mustard oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which have been linked to to positive heart health. Monounsaturated fatty acids helps lower high blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides but when it comes to heart health and consumption of mustard oil, there are mixed results.
I found two studies which compared the beneficial effects of mustard oil and ghee on heart health. The studies showed that mustard oil is harmful to heart health due to the high amounts of erucic acid present in it and ghee, though high in saturated fatty acids was good for heart health if had in moderation.
But we have to keep in mind that the studies were very small. I also found 2 other studies that proved that a diet high in vegetable intake and mustard oil is good for heart health too so larger studies are needed to support both these claims. Now research is going on about cultivating plants with low erucic acid and in fact, Indian agricultural research institute (IACR) has developed such a verity.
3. Anti Cancer Properties
Diets rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids helps reduce colon cancer. In a study, rats were given corn oil, fish oil and mustard oil. Though fish oil contained the maximum omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, mustard oil had the most chemo preventive properties against colon cancer. Also allyl isothiocyanate, the important compound present in mustard has been proven to inhibit bladder cancer growth too.
4. Anti Inflammatory Properties
When it comes to reducing inflammation, I could only find animal studies. Internal consumption of mustard oil has been shown to help reduce inflammation. In a study, rats who were induced psoriasis were given a diet containing 5% mustard seeds. Though the psoriasis was not cured, the inflammation reduced considerably. Mustard oil is a skin irritant and when applied externally it has the opposite effect and causes skin inflammation, I found many animal studies supporting this claim.
5. Antimicrobial Properties
The essential oil steam distilled from mustard seeds have important antimicrobial properties. Black mustard seed essential oil has been proven to be effective against Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus ochraceus, this is due to the high amounts of allyl isothiocyanate present in black mustard essential oil. White mustard essential oil has been proven to be effective against many bacterial strains including Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus and Lactobacillus fermentum.
Mustard Oil Side Effects
Mustard oil causes skin irritation if applied externally in some people. If you are using mustard oil for the first time, please do a patch test before applying it all over the body. Mustard oil massage is very popular here in India especially in new borns and many studies have proved that it causes skin irritation so please practice caution.
How To Buy Mustard Oil
When buying mustard oil make sure to stay away from refined mustard oil. Always try to buy pure cold pressed mustard oil even if it is a bit expensive.
3 Top Ways To Use Mustard Oil:
Mustard Oil Steam:
Applying mustard oil on the chest is a common remedy for treating chest congestion in North India but the problem is it might cause skin irritation in some people. For them I would suggest mustard oil steam. For the steam, boil 1.5 litres of water in a pot and once it comes to a boil, add in handful of eucalyptus leaves and few drops of mustard oil. Bend over the water, cover with a thick cloth and steam.
Mustard Oil Foot Massage:
Mustard oil is very conditioning and is ideal for treating cracked heels, it usually does not cause any irritation if applied on the feet. Warm 1/4 cup mustard oil over a double boiler along with a tbsp of beeswax and once the beeswax melts, pour it in a glass bottle and allow it to set and use it for foot massage.
Mustard Oil For Hair:
Mustard oil is widely used as a hair oil in North India. You can heat it along with hair growth promoting herbs like curry leaves and henna leaves and use it to massage the hair regularly. My friend uses henna infused mustard oil for her hair regularly, you can find the recipe for it here.