Mustard oil is one of the byproducts of the mustard plant, which in itself is very useful, as depending on its form, it can be used as a spice, a condiment, or its leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.
What is Mustard Oil?
This oil is made from pressing the seeds of the mustard plant, which produces this pungent smelling oil that has many different uses from being rubbed into the body to help relieve arthritis pains to being used as cooking oil. It can be made from all three varieties of mustard seeds, including the black, yellow or white Indian seeds.
There are three kinds of mustard oil: mustard essential oil, a form of vegetable oil used for cooking or flavoring, and mustard oil made with mustard seed extract that is mixed in with other types of oil, like soybean oil.
Mustard essential oil is produced when the mustard seeds are ground up and distilled in water, which brings forth a toxic substance called allyl isothiocyanate, which is irritating to skin and breathing. It is put into insect repelling products, as well as being used to denature alcohol. This chemical is what gives mustard oil its unique scent. It is also used in very small amounts to flavor an Italian fruit condiment called mostrada.
Regular mustard oil, however, is made by merely pressing mustard seeds and this is the product that can be employed in health, beauty, and cooking.
Mustard oil has a long history of medicinal uses. Some of which are ointments for the pain of stiff joints, to relieve ear ache, respiratory infection, or even to treat dandruff. One reason why it works so well to treat pain is that is contains selenium, which is well-known for having anti-inflammatory uses, as well as magnesium, which can be used to clear congestion from a person’s sinuses and chest.
A medical study published in The 2004 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that Indians who consumed this oil were less likely to suffer from heart disease. This was attributed to the fact that it contains alpha-linolenic acid, which contains omega-3 fatty acid, as well as the ability of the erucic acid to reduce the stickiness of blood platelets.
Mustard oil has also been used in massage as a way to heighten blood flow, which is one reason it has been used in some places as a male enhancement product to get bigger erections and sexual virility. It is also said to have anti-bacterial properties.
A scientific study in Europe in 2010 printed in the European Journal of Nutrition found that mustard oil decreases cholesterol and strengthens red blood cells by improving their cell membrane and changing the fatty acids in the cells to a form that was more polyunsaturated.
It has also been used as a way to perk up someone who isn’t able to eat as it can be used as an appetite enhancer. This is due to the fact that it irritates the stomach lining and stimulates digestive juices.
This oil also contains phytonutrients, which are said to help prevent cancer. They contain glucosinolates and isolthiocyanates, which have been used to help fight cancer.
Mixed with various other ingredients, mustard oil can also be used to treat dandruff or to revitalize hair in other ways. For dandruff, just mix a tablespoon of mustard oil with a tablespoon of castor oil and coconut oil and rub into the scalp. You just leave it overnight and rinse it out in the morning. It’s the vitamins A and E found in the oil, as well as the omega-3 and omega-6 that helps to make hair strong and conditioned.
It has also been used in the making of cosmetics, and it is said to improve and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This is in part due to the Vitamin E contained in the oil, which helps the circulation of the blood so it gets to the skin better, and it also protects the skin from free radicals in polluted areas.
This oil is said to have a hot nut-like flavor and it is commonly used for cooking in places such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In cooking, mustard oil should be allowed to reach a smoking point before you use it in cooking things over the stove such as stir fry dishes. This gives it a smoother flavor, but can destroy its valuable omega-3 health benefits.
How to Buy Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is not frequently available in supermarkets, though it is starting to be carried by some stores that cater to more ethnic foods, though it is easy to get in Indian or Mid-Eastern grocery stores. It has been especially hard to find it in America in the past, but you can usually get it as oil imported from places like India, Pakistan and Bangledesh for around $5 a liter.
It is not hard to store this oil as long as it is not opened. However, once that has occurred, you need to store it in the refrigerator where it can stay fresh for months.
Is Mustard Oil Dangerous?
At one time thought to be dangerous to eat due to the erucic acid in it. This was mostly the case in trying to find it in the U.S., Canada, or the European Union countries. This was determined by a study using rats, but then later it was found that rats can’t digest vegetable fats well, so it is now thought that mustard oil is not as toxic as it was thought before.
Since the 1990s, however, all mustard oil sold in the U.S. carried a warning that it was for external use only, not to be eaten. It is banned by the Food and Drug Administration to be used as food due to high contents of erucic acid of up to 40 percent.
Other traditional uses
Mustard oil has several other interesting and sometimes traditional uses. For instance, it is poured onto the threshold of a newly married couple or when a child is returning home after being gone a long time or has done well by passing their school exams or other event.
It is also used as fuel in some countries in lamps, as a preservative and in making Indian drums.
Other Mustard Research
A study published in May 2011 in the Journal “Nutrition” touted the use of mustard oil to lower cholesterol. In the study it was fed to lab animals and made up 20 percent of their diets every day for 28 days. The LDL cholesterol and triglycerides went down, and the HDLs, which are a good form of cholesterol, went up. It was done at the Department of Chemical Technology, University of Calcutta, India.
Studies area also being conducted to see if mustard oil has a future as a biopesticide or to if it can be used as a biodiesel fuel.