Have you ever tried mustard oil? Known for its pungency, this staple of the Indian kitchen can be a real game changer once you get used to it. And the uses of this underappreciated gem are versatile. You can use mustard oil in cooking… you can enhance your at-home beauty rituals with it… you can use it as a massage oil… and now studies show that there’s another great benefit to it: Mustard oil is great for your heart health.
Like other vegetable oils, mustard oil is obtained by pressing mustard seeds—you can use either black mustard, brown Indian mustard, or white mustard. The seeds contain a certain compound that is responsible for the pungent taste of wasabi, mustard, and horseradish.
While the health industry may have passed on mustard oil in the past, it certainly does have a competitive edge compared to other, more popular vegetable oils. Take the process of oil extraction, for example. In the processing of various refined oils, natural oils are often treated with chemicals, mixed with solvents, and heated to a very high temperature. All these steps definitely impair the quality and sometimes the safety of the end product. Mustard oil, on the other hand, is extracted through a traditional “kachi ghani” method that doesn’t use any chemicals.
A heart-friendly oil
What makes mustard oil so good for heart health is its unique fatty acid profile. Boasting an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids and natural antioxidants, it contains up to 60 percent of monounsaturated fatty acids and 21 percent of polyunsaturated fatty acids, both of which are known as good fats. High levels of these fats, referred to as MUFA and PUFA respectively, help support healthy cholesterol levels, leading to a reduction of triglycerides and, in turn, effective support of the heart. Bonus points: the oil is cholesterol free, trans fat-free, and has a low saturated fat content (about 12 percent).
A study published in the Journal of Preventive Cardiology uncovered that the dietary use of mustard oil lowered the odds of developing heart conditions such as coronary heart disease by almost 70 percent. Speaking of cooking, mustard oil has a high smoking point (the temperature at which the oil starts burning), which makes it a more versatile option than something like olive oil, which is known for its low smoke point.
Another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that the oil is associated with a lower risk of ischemic heart disease compared to the use of sunflower oil, and it has been proven to lower bad cholesterol and keep blood fat levels at bay when consumed regularly.
And that’s not it…
As mentioned, mustard oil is commonly used instead of regular massage oil, and for a good reason. It improves blood flow, releases muscle tension, and activates the sweat glands, promoting the elimination of toxins from the body. Thanks to its antioxidant profile, mustard oils help protect the body from free radical damage associated with UV rays and pollution. And if you’re into home-made beauty products, a mustard oil-based scalp mask accompanied by a massage is an excellent way to boost hair growth.
Whether you’re looking to make your heart stronger or spice up your diet, mustard oil is a great solution. Experiment with dietary and topical uses and reap the amazing benefits of this amazing oil.
Related: Cooking oils compared: Which to use or avoid for health benefits