#HealthBytes: Why is mustard oil beneficial for our health?
Indian cuisines are predominantly cooked in mustard oil. This oil, also known as sarson ka tel, is extracted from mustard seeds (black, brown and white), and is commonly amber in color. Apart from adding a distinct pungent flavor to our food, mustard oil is pretty beneficial for our health. Read on to find out, what all can this oil do for us.
There are high amounts of good fats in mustard oil that can reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. These include the useful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, along with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Some studies have also suggested that mustard oil may reduce bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels in the body, which in turn prevents cardiovascular diseases.
Many test-tube studies have found out the potential anti-bacterial properties in mustard essential oil. The glucosinolate in it prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria and other microbes. In one test-tube study, white mustard essential oil reduced the growth of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus. It is said to be effective in stopping the growth of some types of fungi and mold.
In many Indian families, it's advised to rub feet with warm mustard oil for treating cold. And interestingly, it works most of the times. This is probably because of its pungent property that helps in clearing respiratory congestion. Mustard oil has been traditionally used as steam treatment for curing cold. You can also rub about a teaspoon of it on your chest before sleep.
The fact that mustard oil is traditionally used to soothe pain and discomfort points toward its anti-inflammatory effects. As mentioned earlier, mustard oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats can help in regulating inflammatory processes in the body to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Mustard oil also contains a compound called Allyl isothiocyanate that is said to be useful for reducing inflammation.
Mustard oil has the skin-enriching Vitamin E, which is why its topical application may reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It is also believed that massaging newborns with the oil can strengthen their skin; it is actually a common practice in South Asian countries. Additionally, mustard oil contains beta-carotene that promotes hair growth. It also helps to activate blood circulation, and prevent scalp infections.