I remember my first big tryst with mustard oil. Mustard oil is synonymous to most dishes in Assam, especially fish. Now, imagine a nine-year-old who had never really tasted this oil being served a big ladle of fish curry, swimming in mustard oil. I took one small nervous dip in the bowl with my index finger and had a taste. It taste was peculiar, yet familiar. I recognized the harshness of the oil, as well as its warmth. I was hooked with my second bite, and have been in love with this wondrous ingredient close to two decades now.
Mustard oil isn’t just a mere ingredient used for cooking, it has some stellar beauty benefits as well! The oil is extracted from raw mustard seeds and is purified through the process of distillation.
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Around 3000 BC, the mustard crop was first grown in India. It later gained popularity in countries such as Rome and Greece. Initially, the seeds were used to prepare medicines, but as time progressed, it became a popular oil used for cooking in households. Packed with alpha-linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, this wonder oil works as a cure for many diseases and problems related to joints, muscles and the heart.
We are breaking down all the health and beauty benefits of this highly underrated oil, as well as some of the side effects. Let’s roll!
Mustard Oil (Sarso Oil)
Benefits For Skin And Beauty
Benefits For Hair
Unique Ways To Use
Top Brands Of Mustard Oil
What Is Mustard Oil?
Mustard oil (Sarson Ka Tel) is extracted by pressing the seeds of the mustard plant. Mustard plants are of two types - white or yellow mustard that originated in the Mediterranean and the brown mustard, which originated from the Himalayas. The white mustard plant is the more widely grown variety since it is easier to cultivate than the brown variety.
Both varieties of mustard are sown during the spring season and harvested in autumn or just before the onset of winter. Just before harvest, the plants sprout numerous pods containing white or brown seeds on their branches. The pods the brown mustard generally contains about 20 seeds each, while the white mustard pods have around eight seeds.
Mustard plants are easy to grow and can flourish on various types of soil. They can also tolerate extreme weather and have low insect infestations.
Mustard Has Been Used Since Ancient Times
Mustard is are one of the earliest known spices and is even described in ancient Indian and Sumerian texts dating as far back as 3,000 BC. Mustard is also frequently mentioned in early Greek and Roman writings as well as the Bible. Famous scholars and physicians like Hippocrates have been known to use mustard seeds for medicinal purposes.
In India, mustard has its roots in Ayurveda and its consumption and medicinal properties have also been mentioned in the Atharva Veda as well as in classical Ayurvedic literature.
Ayurveda mentions mustard as both a food and a medicine, but it is the seeds that were used for this healing properties. From among the many purposes of mustard seeds, it was used to as a paste (pradeha), fumigant (dhūpana), diaphoretic (svedana), massage powder (udvartana), scraping agent (pragharṣaṇa), poultice (upanāha). and for gargling. The seeds were used to treat numerous diseases, including leucoderma, fever, leprosy, swelling, rheumatoid arthritis and neurological disorders.
Also Read Benefits Of Mustard Seeds In Marathi
22 Benefits Of Mustard Oil You Didn’t Know
Indian cuisine involves a lot of deep-frying and sauteing in fat-based liquids. Mustard oil scores far better on the health scales when used as a frying medium than refined oil, which is perhaps the most common type of fat used to cook in India. Why is it so? Read on to know some of the fascinating medicinal and nutritional benefits of mustard oil.
Health Benefits Of Mustard Oil (Sarso Oil)
Mustard oil is naturally low in trans-fat, which are harmful to our body. At the same time, the oil is surprisingly high in monounsaturated fatty acids that are required in good quantities in our body daily. This makes the oil extremely healthy when added to your regular diet. Here are a few ways it is beneficial to your health:
- Great For The Heart
Mustard oil contains omega-three fatty acids that are beneficial to your heart. They cut the bad cholesterol from our blood and aid in the development of good cholesterol. This can substantially reduce the risk of heart diseases.
- Reduces The Risk Of Cancer
Mustard seeds have anti-carcinogenic properties. The glucosinolate present in the oil extracted from the seeds is proven to have prevented the risk of the formation of tumours in the vital organs on the body. Yep, another reason to consume it regularly.
- Relief From Cough And Cold
As a kid, I remember my mother adding a few drops of mustard oil on my nostrils whenever I had a cold. I used to dislike it a lot. Turns out, the oil helps clear the airways and provides relief from congestion in the chest. This can lead to a quicker recovery from a cough and cold. Lesson learnt!
- Useful For Asthma Patients
Patients with asthma problems can apply brown mustard oil to their nostril to clear airways. The pungency of the oil is known to clear the air passages. You can also mix it with some honey and consume it directly for the same benefits.
- It Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Mustard oil is known to provide relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS when consumed regularly. IBS is caused by abdominal pain, bloating or consuming too much protein. Adding mustard oil to your diet regularly can stabilise this condition.
- A Natural Muscle Relaxant
Mustard oil heats up muscles and therefore, can provide relief from joint and muscle pains. People suffering from arthritis are often recommended that they take massages with mustard oil regularly to reduce inflammation. Babies in India are often massaged with mustard oil to help develop muscles.
- Teeth So White
Sparkling, white teeth always makes a good impression. Believe it or not, but mustard oil can contribute to dental hygiene. Start by brushing your teeth using your regular toothpaste. After rinsing your mouth with water, apply some mustard oil mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt on your teeth. Leave the solution for about five minutes and gargle your mouth with lukewarm water.
- Contains Anti-Bacterial And Anti-Fungal Properties
Mustard oil prevents the spurt of bacteria and fungi. Hence, it can help reduce the risk of infections. Adding mustard oil to your regular diet can altogether eliminate the risk of diseases caused by bacteria and fungus.
- Aids in Digestion
Consuming mustard oil can lead to healthy bowel movement. This, in turn, boosts digestion and overall circulation of blood and digestive enzymes in our bodies. It also leads to an increase in appetite.
- As A Substitute Mosquito Repellent
The tart smell of mustard oil also keeps mosquitoes at bay.
Mustard Oil Benefits For Skin And Beauty
Mustard oil is an all-rounder when it comes to the skin. It acts as a moisturiser, mouthwash, cleanser and toner, and should be an integral part of your skincare routine. Don’t believe us? Take a look at all the amazing benefits of mustard oil for your skin!
- The Oil Is A Natural SPF
Loaded with vitamin E, the oil protects your skin from the toxins in the air and the harmful UV rays. Before stepping out, apply a tiny amount of mustard oil on your face, hands and legs. Remember to not apply too much oil as it can make your skin greasy and attract pollution and dust particles.
- No More Chapped Lips
If your lip balm does not make the cut, don’t replace it with another lip balm; use mustard oil instead. It works as a natural moisturiser and protects your skin and lips from dryness and damage. Add a few drops of mustard oil to petroleum jelly and mix both ingredients well using a toothpick. Dab the balm on your lips and we bet that your pout will instantly feel smooth and baby soft.
- Mustard Oil Makes The Perfect Mouthwash
Before brushing your teeth, swishing your mouth with mustard oil can actually keep your gums and mouth healthy and clean. The antibacterial and antifungal properties in it fight off the germs and infections stuck between your teeth. Doing this twice a week will improve oral hygiene.
- Have You Used The Oil As A Skin Cleanser Yet?
One way to safely cleanse your skin is to use mustard oil. It stimulates sweat glands and easily opens the pores of your skin. Removal of toxins, unwanted salts, water and dirt are its main advantages. Use mustard oil to cleanse your skin thrice in two weeks and you’ll have the best-looking skin in no time.
- For A Clearer And Smoother Skin
Applying mustard oil to your skin often can give you your glow back. A regular massage using this oil will improve blood circulation and improve skin’s elasticity. Make a mix of coconut and mustard oil and apply it to your face. This will ensure that you will get supple and smoother skin.
- Dark Spots And Tanned Skin Be Gone!
After a tropical vacation, you may have to deal with pigmentation or dark spots. Mustard oil has your back. Make a thick paste using mustard oil, chickpea flour, lemon juice and yoghurt. Apply the mask to your skin and don’t wash it off till the mask hardens. Do this thrice a week over two months and we're sure you will see healthier clearer skin.
- Reset The Clock
You may or may not know this, but the key to looking younger is befriending mustard oil! Since the oil is rich in vitamin A, B and E, your skin is bound to be free from wrinkles, fine lines and marks. Did we also mention that it brightens dull skin? Yep, it’s pretty awesome!
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Mustard Oil Benefits For Hair
Look past the strong smell of the mustard oil because it has several benefits for your hair and scalp that you may have not thought about. Here are a few ways the golden liquid can benefit your hair.
- Hello, Healthy Scalp!
Did you know that mustard oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties? Well, now you do. Massaging your scalp with mustard oil helps keep your scalp squeaky clean and combat fungal infections. When those hair problems are tackled, you know what follows after, right? Strong and lustrous locks, of course!
- For Longer & Stronger Locks
When hair has a beta-carotene deficiency, it becomes weak and prone to damage. That’s where this oil should come into the picture. Since it has vitamin A, iron, magnesium, calcium and fatty acids, both your hair and scalp are provided with nourishment. Regular usage of mustard oil helps boost hair growth. Plus, if you’re dealing with premature greying, this oil will be really helpful in keeping your hair healthier as it is rich in minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
- Stops The Greys
Not many people are aware that mustard oil can slow down the process of greying hair Applying mustard oil directly to your roots every night can help your hair get bouncy and soft as well.
- Say Goodbye To Hair Loss
I complain about hair loss all the time. Turns out, the solution had been lying in the kitchen all the time. With its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, mustard oil can help maintain strong hair roots, thereby reducing hair loss. The vitamin A in the oil also acts a revitaliser.
- Eliminates Pollutant Radicals
Pollution is peaking in most cities around the country, especially in and around North India. This especially affects our hair because that is the most exposed part of our body to the harsh elements. Mustard oil contains selenium, an antioxidant that is found naturally in the oil. Selenium is known to free hair of radical elements that comes with pollution and fosters healthy hair growth.
10 Unique Ways To Use Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is unique in its own way. Its high-cooking point makes it ideal for cooking. It also contains high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and low saturated fats (the bad variety of fat). It also made up of nearly 60 percent of monosaturated fat (the good kind), some of the highest among cooking oils. So, it is recommended to try and add mustard oil to your regular diet. Read on to find out how to use mustard oil as a part of your daily cooking and health routines.
How To Use Mustard Oil For Cooking
- Use Mustard Oil For Deep-Frying
Mustard oil has a high smoking point. This means that it does not burn that easily when compared to other more common oils like soybean, refined or canola oil. Hence, it is perfect for deep frying meats and vegetables.
- Ideal For Non-Veg Cuisine
We have seen mustard oil in a lot of meat-heavy dishes. The oil has properties that help breaks down protein and aids in its digestion. Whether you are cooking fish or any other meat-based dishes, mustard oil is suitable for all non-vegetarian dishes.
- As A Salad Garnish
Mustard oil is a perfect accompaniment to your salad, considering its multiple nutritional benefits. Just drizzle a small a light amount over your raw green salad or sprouts salad and relish its delightfully strong taste.
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How To Use Mustard Oil On Your Skin For Nourishment
- Mix It With Some Coconut Oil For Softer Skin
Add a tablespoon of mustard oil with an equal amount of coconut oil and massage it on to your face. Wash it after 15 minutes. In a few days, you should feel your skin getting softer and will be more nourished. You should also apply a moisturiser every night after the mustard-coconut massage to help retain the nourishment.
- As A Body Wash Scrub
Mix two tablespoons of mustard oil with a teaspoon each of turmeric powder, mustard seeds and sandalwood along with a tablespoon of besan or gram flour and a few saffron strands. Apply on dead skin as a scrub or to heal infections. Remember to moisturise the skin after washing off the scrub.
- As A Paste To Get Rid Of Dark Spots
Make a mixture of one tablespoon mustard oil and two tablespoons each of besan and curd. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to form a paste and apply to your dark spots. Leave for 15-20 minutes and wash off. You should see the areas glow in a few days.
- As An Acne Reliever
Mustards seeds naturally have omega-three fatty acids can prevent the outbursts of acne. Add a handful of mustard seeds to a litre of coconut oil and bring it to a heat. Let it cool off completely before straining the seeds out. Massage your skin daily with the oil and your acne should start reducing in a few weeks.
How To Use Mustard Oil For Hair Care
Here are the ways to use mustard oil for hair care:
- The Three Oil Combo
Mix olive, coconut and mustard oil together in a bowl. Heat the mix and massage your scalp in circular motions. Once you’ve done that, wrap your hair up in a towel. Keep it that way for about 2-3 hours and wash your hair with lukewarm water and mild shampoo after. While the mustard oil will help increase the overall circulation of blood to your roots, the coconut oil will keep the scalp moisturised. The olive oil will help smoothen those rough ends, primarily in frizzy hair.
- With A Dash Of Lemon
Lemon contains healthy amounts of vitamin C and therefore compliments mustard oil when fighting dandruff. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice with a tablespoon of mustard oil and massage on the scalp. Leave it on for an hour before you shampoo and condition. This champi is your secret to getting that dandruff-free scalp!
- Use It With Henna To Stop Greying
A lot of us use henna or mehendi to colour our hair. It also helps prevent the hair from greying too soon. When combined with henna, mustard oil’s full potential is released. Next time you apply henna, add a tablespoon or two along with it and apply to your hair. You will see a substantial difference than without the oil.
8 Side-Effects Of Mustard Oil You Should Know
While mustard oil is proven to be beneficial for various health reasons, it is always advisable to consult a health physician if you have never used it. Mustard oil is known to contain a fairly high amount of erucic acid and alpha-linolenic acid and it can lead to health complications. Additionally, a lot of people may be allergic to mustard and do not realise it. A quick tip is to apply a small drop of mustard oil to your arm and see if there is any reaction. Let’s take a look at some of the common side-effects of mustard oil.
- Harmful For People With High Eruric Acid
Mustard oil is not recommended for people suffering from high eruric acids levels. About 45 per cent of the oil is made up of eruric acid, and overconsumption may lead to heart diseases, respiratory problems and even anaemia in some cases.
- It Can Lead To Lung Problems
While mustard oil can help you get relief from respiratory issues when used in moderation, it can also lead to lung problems when overused. It is also known to cause breathing problems in people already suffering from lung cancer.
- Mustard Oil Can Lead To Skin Issues
Mustard oil is a strong combination of a lot of acids and chemical and overuse can damage the skin’s soft layers. Extra caution is recommended when using the oil on babies. It should be diluted with a different oil when in those cases.
- Can Alleviate Heart Troubles
The high content of eruric acid in mustard oil can lead to problems of the heart. Eruric acid leads to fat build up in muscles, including the heart. One known condition is myocardial lipidosis, where the fat build up can lead to lesions in the heart. Heart patients are advised to consult a doctor before consuming mustard oil.
- Allergies Issues
As is the case with several other food products, several people are allergic to mustard oil. If you have never consumed it, an allergy test should be carried out before you do. A few people may be unaware that they have been consuming mustard oil since it is often mixed with a lot of other fats. If you do have allergies, you should ask your parents to check if they have had similar issues.
- Bowel Irritation
While mustard oil leads to protein breakdown and a smooth digestion, too much of it can lead to inflammation and heartburn.
- Pregnancy-Related Complications
Mustard oil may pose some complications in pregnant women, particularly due to the heart and lung diseases it is related with. A few types of research have also shown that it may lead to problems in the fetus.
- It May Cause Rhinitis
One of the more peculiar side-effects to mustard oil is rhinitis, which results in the mucous membranes in our bodies to get inflamed. This could lead to cold-like symptoms like a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing, although the effects are temporary.
Top Brands Of Mustard Oil In India
It is recommended that we keep changing our oils to avail the different benefits from different fats. Mustard oil should be a staple in most of our kitchens, given the ease of cooking with the oil and the lower costs. Moreover, the oil can be used for external use as well. Here are a few brands in India that you can choose from:
- Fortune Kachi Ghani
Fortune Kachi Ghani is one the best oils you can choose from in the market. It is made using a traditional process to extract pure mustard oil from the seeds. This retains the natural properties, antioxidants and the essential oils.
Price: Rs 106. Buy it here.
- Farm Naturelle Oil
This is one of the premium varieties of mustard oil that you can buy online. The oil is extracted from seeds sourced from Uttarakhand and is cold pressed to extract a lighter, less pungent version.
Price: Rs 275. Buy it here.
- Sampurn Organic Oil
Sampurn ensures that they extract the oil without any chemical process and refrains from adding any preservatives. The result is a clean, chemical-free oil that can be used regularly.
Price: Rs 259. Buy it here.
- Organic Tattva Organic - Mustard Oil
One of the few brands, along with Farm Naturelle, that cold-presses the mustard oil. The light mustard oil can be used in shallow frying as well as deep frying.
Price: Rs 236. Buy it here.
- Mother Organic Mustard Oil
A Delhi-based brand that uses the traditional methods of extracting the mustard oil from its seeds. The dark strong oil is sharp with a strong flavour that can lead to enhancing the flavours of non-veg dishes as well as a garnish over salads.
Price: Rs 340. Buy it here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mustard Oil
Why Is Mustard Oil Banned In The US?
Mustard oil is banned in the United States of America (US), Canada and the European Union. All mustard oil sold in these regions has to be marked ‘For external use only.’ This is due to the high content of eruric acid in mustard oil, which can lead to heart diseases.
What Is Better - Olive Oil Or Mustard Oil?
Both olive oil and mustard oil are proven to be beneficial in their own ways. Both oils have higher amounts of good unsaturated fats than other oils, which can reduce cholesterol levels. However, since mustard oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and is considerably cheaper, it does make for a better choice when used in larger quantities, like for frying.
Is Mustard Oil Harmful?
If consumed in moderation, mustard oil is beneficial since it does contain high amounts of unsaturated fats. However, the side-effects of mustard oil cannot be ignored and the eruric acid present in the oil is known to lead to heart problems.
Can Mustard Oil Regrow Hair?
The essential vitamins A and C in the oil does lead to an increase in blood circulation when gently massaged on to the scalp. This increase in blood circulation can lead to a higher amount of white blood cells in the hair roots that spurn hair growth.
Feature Image: Instagram
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This story was updated in January 2019.