Mustard Oil : A Bird's Eye View

Mustard is a cornerstone of Indian culture. Its flower symbolizes spring, and the yellow oil produced from its seeds is considered a cure-all. Known for its stimulating, cleansing and rejuvenating properties, the warmth generated by mustard oil when applied to the skin opens the pores and helps sweat out impurities. In the colder areas of India, mustard oil -- the olive oil of India -- heats the body by firing up the food, and heals chapped lips when a drop of oil is applied to the belly button.


A Short Note on Mustard Seed

Description 
The mustard is a well-known oil seed. It is a small annual plant which grows up to a height of one metre with some branches. It has round stem with long inter-modes, simple, alternate and very soft yellowish green leaves. The fruit is a pod of about 2.5 cm. long containing seeds.

Dry mustard seeds are small, measuring about I mm. in diameter. They are round and darkish-brown or greyish-brown in colour. They have no smell, but when pounded and moisturised with water, they emit a peculiar pungent odour. The taste of the mustard seeds is bitter and pungent. A one-acre field of mustard produces 1 tonne of seed, which produces 880kg of mustard flour. This produces 4760kg of wet mustard, which produces 47600 jars of mustard. It was not until the 18th century that mustard seeds were used more widely as a condiment - and, even then, diners had to crush the seeds on their own plates before mixing them with vinegar and water to suit their taste.

Origins of Mustard
The word mustardt' comes from the Latin must (much) and ardens (burning). It is believed that mustard was first cultivated in India around 3000 BC and came to Britain with the Romans. Mustard was first used for medicinal purposes. Black mustard is a native of Eurasia. It has been in cultivation in, Europe for a long time. This was the first species to provide table mustard for use as a condiment. It has been used by Romans, Greeks and Indians since ancient times. The plant is cultivated as a field crop in most temperate countries.

Food Value 
The mustard seeds are used as condiment throughout India. The seeds yield 28 per cent of a fixed oil which is used in medicine and soap-making. The seeds also contain about one per cent of a volatile oil which is used as a counter-irritant when greatly diluted. The oil extracted from the seeds  is used in North India as a hair oil, for frying and other cooking purposes. It is also used in pickles and salads. In Punjab, Delhi and Western Uttar Pradesh, the leaves are used as a vegetable.

Natural Benefits and Curative Properties 
Mustard seed as well as its oil is used in many prescription for the treatment of various ailments. White mustard seeds can be used beneficially as a beauty aid. A handful of these seeds are roasted in a litre of sesame or coconut oil. The oil is then strained and cooled. It is applied with little water over face before going to bed. It will cure pimples and whiten the complexion. Mustard oil boiled with henna leaves is useful in healthy growth of hair. About 25 grams of mustard oil should be boiled in a tinned basin. A little quantity of henna leaves should be gradually put in this oil till about 60 grams of these leaves are thus burnt in the oil. The oil should then be filtered through a cloth and stored well in a bottle. Regular massage of the head with this oil will produce abundant hair.

Poisoning 
Mustard seeds have emetic properties which cause vomiting. A teaspoonful of seeds, mixed in a glassful of water, generally produces free vomiting in five to 10 minutes. This is especially useful in drunkenness, narcotic and other poisonings.

MUSTARD - The Composition
The nutritional significance of Mustard Oil has the unique distinction of having been discovered at a time when our much revered scriptures, the Vedas, were being documented. Of course, there has been no looking back since then! Even the curious American phrase 'to cut the mustard' could not have been more aptly used to mean the accomplishment of something in an expert manner. It also refers to something that is genuine and not watered down.The many unique and superlative qualities of mustard are based on its nourishing power. 100 gm of mustard seed, when pounded or crushed, yield 33 - 40 gm of pure oil and recall information per 100g of mustard oil is (Approx 64g of oil meal).

Energy 890 k. cal
Fat (SFA) 6.0 g
Mufa 65 g
Pufa 29 g

Mustard Oil, according to the American Heart Association, which lays down that saturated fat intake in our diets should be a bare minimum conforming to strict standards. In fact, Dr. Narender Saini, a world renowned cardiologist, claims that Mustard Oil's oxidative stability is unmatched. No other edible oil is more stable than that of Mustard Oil's intrinsic potential to remain unaffected by storage conditions, the processing environment and the concept of shelf life. 

The fatty acid composition of common oil seed crops
M.S.O. has the highest quality of naturally available Linolenic acid, a mono unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) with heart-healthy properties. This fatty acid cannot be sourced externally from other foods.

The intense interest in the N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids has encouraged investigators to rethink the conventional wisdom on saturated and N-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. After rigorous research in the 1990s, there are now confirmed reports about mono unsaturated fatty acids being as effective or rather more effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Mustard oil is the richest source of MUFA and is, therefore, responsible for the low incidence of atherosclerosis in India as compared to the population of USA consuming a high proportion of dietary fats. It has also been suggested by the Heart Research Laboratory, Medical Hospital & Research Centre, Moradabad, that fish oil, possibly due to the presence of N-3 fatty acids, may provide rapid protective effects in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

Chemistry of Mustard
Mustard contains an enzyme myrosin and a glucoside, which yields upon hydrolysis, allyl isothiocynate, a pungent tasting but almost odourless oil. Mustard oil is only slightly volatile. Seeds contain 7.2% moisture, 25% protein, 29.7% crude fat, 38% N-free extract, 10.3% fibre, and 4.5% ash (C.S.I.R. 1948-1976). Asian analyses suggest that the seed contains per 100g: 469 calories, 5.0% moisture, 25% protein, 38% fat, 28.2% total carbohydrate, 5.2% fibre, 4.1% ash, 410 mg Calcium, 613 mg Phosphorus, 20.9 mg Iron, 630 mg beta carotene equivalent, 0.40 mg thiamine, 0.31 mg riboflavin, 7.3 mg niacin, and 0 ascorbic acid. 

Toxicity of Mustard
Seeds have a cathartic acid due to liberation of Hydrogen sulphide on contact with water. Large doses may produce sulphide poisoning, with cyanosis, etc. Troxler (1981) reports fatalities in 19 of 48 heifers fed white mustard.