Mustard oil has a strong sinus-irritating aroma, a hot nutty taste, and is often used for cooking in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Assam and other areas of India and Bangladesh. Innorth India, it is mainly used in frying fritters. In Bengal, it is the traditionally preferred oil for cooking. The oil makes up about 30% – 34% of the mustard seeds. It can be produced from black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), and white mustard (Brassica hirta) though production from brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) is mostly undertaken as it yields higher pungency suited to the Indian palate.
Mustard oil has about 60% monounsaturated fatty acids of which 42% erucic acid and 12% oleic acid, it has 21% polyunsaturates of which 6% is the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and 15% omega-6 linoleic acid and it has 12% saturated fats.
Mustard seeds, like all seeds of the Brassica family, including canola (rapeseed) and turnip, have high levels of omega-3 (6–11%) and are a common, cheap, mass-produced source of plant-based (therefore, vegetarian) omega-3 fatty acids. Other than rapeseed and mustard oils, there are few other common sources of plant based omega-3 in Western and Indian diets. Especially when omega-6 intake is kept low, humans can convert the plant omega-3 into one of the fish omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid, in limited amounts, a useful source for vegetarians.
In India, mustard oil is often heated almost to smoking before it is used for cooking; this may be an attempt to reduce the strong smell and taste. However, high heat can damage the omega-3 in the oil, reducing its unique role in health. In Western countries, the oil is often sold “for external use only” in stores catering to Indian immigrants. Indians also use mustard oil for rubdowns and ayurvedic massages as it is said to improve blood circulation, muscular development and skin texture owing to the oil’s antibacterial qualities. The oil is also said to improve male virility and sexual libido.
- Vitamin E (anti oxidant, radiant skin, good for heart)
- Natural anti oxidants (slows ageing, prevents illness and diseases)
- High amount of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (good for heart)
- Good ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids (good for heart)