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Mustard Oil: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Uses and Side Effects

Popularly called Sarson ka Tel in India, mustard oil is a versatile ingredient in most kitchens. While it is known for its intense flavour and culinary purposes, mustard oil also has numerous health benefits. For example, the anti-inflammatory properties of mustard are good for diabetes. In addition, mustard oil contains an ample dose of notable nutrients, making it a healthy cooking oil alternative. It comes from the seeds of the mustard plant Brassica juncea and gets purified via the distillation process. Mustard oil is a staple among Indo-Greco regions due to its flavourings and therapeutic nature. However, the colour of mustard oil generally depends upon from which varieties it is extracted or is it refined or not. Often, it is a super oil with a dark, reddish, yellow colour and a strong aroma. Nonetheless, all mustard oil has the same pungent, sharp flavour, irrespective of the variety.

Nutrition Facts of Mustard Oil

The nutritional value of mustard oil per 100 g is as follows:

Energy: 884 kcalTotal lipid content: 100 gTotal saturated fatty acid: 11.6 gTotal monounsaturated fatty acid: 59.2 gTotal polyunsaturated fatty acid: 21.2 gLinoleic acid: 15.3 gGamma Linoleic acid: 5.9 g

Calories

A 100g of mustard oil has about 884 kcal. So if you’re using one tablespoon, it has around 124 calories. 

Carbohydrates

It is to note that mustard oil contains zero carbohydrates. Therefore, since it has no carbohydrates, the glycemic index is zero too.

Protein

Mustard oil doesn’t contain protein.

Fatty Acids

Mustard oil contains fatty acids. It contains an excellent ratio of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The oil has no trans fat, and since it is a plant-based product, it doesn’t contain cholesterol. The fatty acid ratio in mustard oil is as follows:

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA): 60%Polyunsaturated fats( PUFA): 21% Saturated fats: 12%

Mustard oil has 6% omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and 15% omega-6 linoleic acid. This optimum omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ratio makes mustard oil more beneficial and preferred over several other oils. In addition, this rich oil contains 42% erucic acid and 12% oleic acid. 

Micronutrients

Mustard oil has zero vitamins and minerals. Even if some vitamins and minerals are present, they are only present in insignificant amounts. 

Preparation Steps

First and foremost, buy mustard seeds from the market.Clean them properly and dry the seeds in sunlight for a few weeks.Crush the seeds in the bowl.After crushing the seeds, the oil cake gets separated. The remaining seed cake can be animal feed.Collect the oil and put it in a glass container.Drying of seeds in the sunCleaning of seeds to remove the dirt and foreign substances Heating of seeds to increase or retain the quantity of yieldExtraction of oil from mustard seedsPurification of extracted oil

Health Benefits of Mustard Oil

Mustard oil is known to have digestion stimulating, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. Some health benefits of mustard oil are as follows:

Reduces Cancer Risk

Glucosinolate, a phytonutrient in mustard oil, possesses antibiotic and anticarcinogenic properties. It reduces the risk of developing or delaying the progression of complications associated with chronic diseases. Dietary glucosinolate helps to reduce the carcinogenic effect, especially in colorectal and gastrointestinal cancer.  

A study shows that sulforaphane in mustard oil has preventive and therapeutic effects against cancer stem cells. Another study indicates that a high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in mustard oil protects against colon cancer. Furthermore, the results suggest that mustard oil is more effective in preventing colon cancer than fish oil. 

A study indicates that mustard oil contains allyl isothiocyanate, showing excellent chemopreventive activity. Allyl isothiocyanate has a broad spectrum of anticancer activities in cultured cancer lines and animal tumour studies. In addition, it inhibits the action of colorectal cancer, lung cancer, leukaemia, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer cells. 

Manage Type 2 Diabetes

The prevalence rate of diabetes, especially type-2 diabetes, is increasing rapidly. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a common metabolic disorder associated with increased blood sugar, altered metabolism, and insulin resistance. 

A study determined the effectiveness of edible oils in diabetes mellitus. Soybean oil significantly decreased total cholesterol levels, while sunflower oil reduced fasting blood glucose levels. Mustard oil increases the levels of HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. It absorbs the cholesterol and transports it to the liver, excreted from the body. Furthermore, high levels of alpha-linolenic acid in mustard oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil helped decrease cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetic people. The results also show that mustard oil comes in second as diabetes-friendly after sesame oil. 

Mustard oil enhances the activity of beta cells to promote insulin production to convert glucose into energy. Moreover, the antioxidant properties of elaidic acid and vitamin E present in mustard oil help improve insulin functioning and reduce the complications associated with diabetes.

It is to note that trans fat is a significant factor in causing insulin failure and high fat oxidation, leading to diabetes. Conversely, mustard oil contains zero trans fat, which is beneficial for regulating insulin levels in diabetic conditions. 

Improves Digestion

Mustard oil contains linoleic acid, which acts as a stimulant to promote the formation of digestive juices. It also controls sweating in summers. In addition, mustard oil is a catalyst for hunger. It stimulates the release of digestive juices to aid digestion and create a feeling of hunger. The hunger-stimulating property of mustard oil is suitable for those facing appetite loss. 

Strengthens Cell Walls

Mustard oil has an ideal ratio of lipids, i.e., the optimum ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It contains all the fatty acids required to perform diverse functions related to plasma, cell lipids, and cell membrane. It also helps improve the structure of red blood cells, i.e., erythrocytes.

Healthy for Cooking

Mustard oil is considered the healthiest cooking oil because of the ideal presence of SFA: MUFA: PUFA and relative stability during cooking at high temperatures. Interestingly, it has a high smoke point, i.e., 250-degree Celsius (480 degrees Fahrenheit). You can also use it as a flavouring agent and preservative. In fact, in Indian households, mustard oil is the preferred oil for cooking and making preservative foods such as pickles. It gives a rustic taste and authentic flavour. 

Relief from Joint Pain

The presence of omega-3 fatty acids helps ease joint stiffness and pain caused due to arthritis. Therefore, it can also offer relief and comfort among arthritis patients. A regular massage with mustard oil helps in relieving joint pain. 

Mustard Oil is Heart-Friendly

Mustard oil has an abundance of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also has a high amount of linolenic acid. These are good for sustaining your heart health. Moreover, a case study shows that diets rich in mustard oil could contribute to a lower risk of ischemic heart disease among Indians. There was a notable decrease in the risk of IHD because of alpha-linolenic acid present in mustard oil. Alpha-linolenic acid reduces the adhesion and aggregation abilities of thrombocytes, reducing the risk of heart disease. 

Another study says that using mustard oil for cardiovascular health seems controversial due to its large proportion of erucic acid. However, mustard oil is a suitable replacement for dietary saturated fats. Moreover, you can eat limited amounts of mustard oil to reap its cardioprotective benefits. 

Possible Side Effects of Mustard Oil

Mustard Oil’s Allergic Reactions 

Several international food allergen labelling regulations, such as the European Union and Canada, have declared that mustard comes under 14 major food allergens. However, in European countries such as France and Spain, the prevalence rate of allergies induced by mustard oil is high. Therefore, people with mustard allergies must avoid eating products from mustard plants, such as oil, sauce, mustard seeds, and other products.

Mustard seeds have an abundance of storage protein 2S albumin known as napin. 2S albumin is a significant mustard allergen associated with severe allergic reactions. Other allergen proteins found in mustard oil are cruciferin, non-specific lipid transfer protein, and prolifin. These allergen proteins are highly heat resistant. Hence they are poorly digestible allergen proteins.

A study shows that mustard and its derivatives like mustard oil raise the risk of hypersensitivity reactions. Initially, the symptoms are rashes, tingling, itching, and swelling, which leads to oral allergy syndrome. But mustard oil can also cause severe allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms can occur after a few minutes to two hours after eating.

Symptoms that occur due to allergic reaction induced by mustard oil are:

Skin reactions such as eczema, rashes, urticaria, or pruritusSwelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throatSwelling of other parts of the bodyConjunctivitis and swelling around the eyesWheezing and breathing difficultyRunny nose and sneezingFast and irregular pulse rateHigh blood pressureAbdominal pain, nausea, acid reflux, or vomitingDizziness and faintingAnaphylactic reactions

Studies suggest that allyl-isothiocyanate in mustard oil has the risk of causing allergic contact dermatitis. It triggers skin reactions such as rashes, hives, urticaria, swelling of lips and tongue, flushed face, and oedema. The symptoms eventually lead to chest tightness, difficulty breathing, rhinitis, asthma, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and anaphylactic shock. 

Mustard Oil and Erucic Acid

Erucic acid is a long chain of monounsaturated fatty acids in mustard oil. About 30%-60% of the total fatty acid in mustard is erucic acid. The erucic content in mustard oil depends on breeding techniques, oil content, climatic conditions, and other morphological and physiological aspects. 

Erucic acid is scantly oxidised, which later interferes with fatty acid oxidation by mitochondria. High levels of erucic acid interfere with the transfer of acyl groups from coenzyme A to carnitine. Carnitine is an essential component in mitochondrial beta-oxidation as it is responsible for transferring long-chain fatty acids in mitochondria for beta-oxidation. 

Accumulating triglycerides in the heart and tissue occurs due to excess exposure to erucic acid. It increases triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in the body and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Also, prolonged exposure to erucic acid can cause myocardial lipidosis and heart lesions. 

Other potential side effects are:

Excessive consumption of mustard oil can cause mucous membrane inflammation, leading to rhinitis.Long-term topical application of mustard oil can cause minor to significant skin blisters.Pregnant women should avoid mustard oil as it contains a few chemical compounds harmful to them and the growing foetus.

Conclusion

Mustard oil has a low saturated fat content and a balanced ratio of SFA: MUFA: PUFA and it has zero trans fat. Mustard oil has several health benefits, such as decreasing cholesterol levels and preventing cardiac diseases. In addition, it lightens skin, improves hair growth, and helps manage diabetes. While mustard oil is helpful for cooking and medicinal purposes, it is one of the major allergens.  

People allergic to mustard oil should avoid it and always check the food labels. Interestingly, the United States, Canada, and Europe ban the use of pure mustard oil as it contains harmful compounds like erucic acid. Therefore, make informed choices. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is mustard oil suitable for?

A. Mustard oil possesses an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids with low content of saturated fatty acids. It stimulates the production of digestive fluids and bile juices that promotes digestion. The presence of MUFA and PUFA helps regulate cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Q. Which mustard oil is best for health?

A. Cold-pressed mustard oil or Kacchi Ghani mustard oil is an unrefined oil. It has a unique fatty acid profile extracted by a chemical-free manufacturing method. Therefore, it is suitable for health and retains the oil’s nutritional properties. However, since it is unrefined, acidic treatments are used while extracting the oil.

Q. Is mustard oil toxic?

A. Mustard oil is generally safe when consumed in moderation, i.e., it is not usually toxic if appropriately utilised. But allyl isothiocyanates compounds in the mustard oil can cause skin allergies. Mustard can cause severe allergic reactions to individuals susceptible to food allergies. Further, the erucic compound acid in mustard oil is also dangerous because of its association with cardiovascular diseases.  

Q. Does mustard oil grow hair?

A. Mustard oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has high antioxidant levels. These nutrients stimulate rapid hair growth by increasing blood circulation in the scalp. It possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity, which fights against dandruff and reduces skin inflammation or irritation. It deeply conditions the hair, which promotes hair growth. 

Q. Does mustard oil have cholesterol?

A. Mustard oil does not contain any cholesterol levels. Instead, being a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, mustard oil lowers blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol levels, and reduces arterial plaque and inflammation.

Q. Is mustard oil better than olive oil?

A. Yes, mustard oil is better than olive oil. The reason is an ideal ratio of fatty acids, i.e., MUFA and PUFA, and a low concentration of saturated fats in mustard oil. While in olive oil, there is a high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids. Mustard oil has high anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, while olive has high antioxidant properties. 

Q. Is mustard oil healthy to eat?

A. Yes, mustard oil is healthy to eat. It is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains low levels of saturated fats. You can use mustard oil for culinary and therapeutic purposes as it enhances the taste and flavour of the dishes. In addition, it helps to reduce inflammation. 

Q. Is pure mustard oil good for health?

A. There are specific issues regarding pure mustard oil. First, it has high levels of erucic acid, which is unsuitable for your health. Pure mustard oil is safe in small doses, but higher levels may be dangerous. For topical application, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil.

Q. Can I apply mustard oil to my hair daily?

A. No, you cannot apply mustard oil to your hair daily. However, mustard oil has a multitude of benefits. Daily application of oil to your hair can attract dirt and pollution, which eventually causes hair fall and hair damage. Apply oil to your hair depending on the condition of the hair, i.e., whether you have a dry or oily scalp. If you have a dry scalp applying mustard oil twice or thrice a week is beneficial. Mustard oil once a week is sufficient if you have an oily scalp. Excess mustard oil on your hair or scalp can cause skin or eye irritation and clogged pores. 

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