Three different types of oil are made from mustard seed and may be referred to as "mustard oil." The first is a fatty vegetable oil that comes from pressing the seeds. The second is called essential oil and is made by grinding the seeds, mixing them with water and extracting the oil through distillation. The third involves infusing mustard seed extract with other vegetable oils. All three types of mustard oil are known for their pungent, nutty taste and somewhat controversial health benefits.
Although extremely popular in northern India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Korea, mustard oil was once considered unsafe to eat in the United States, Canada and much of Europe because it contains erucic acid. In fact, mustard oil sold in the U.S. must be labeled "not for human consumption" and has only been approved for use as a massage oil.
Initial studies of the effects of erucic acid on rats showed the substance to be harmful, however it is now generally believed that those studies were flawed and that the rats reacted poorly to other oils that are considered safe for humans, too.
You can buy mustard oil in Indian groceries. American chefs have been discovering it of late, as described in this New York Times article, American Chefs Discover Mustard Oil. Look for a high quality cold pressed oil from New Zealand or Australia and never buy mustard oil made through distillation.
And with that, here are 7 health benefits of mustard oil:
Mustard oil is rich with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which may help to balance cholesterol levels in the body.
When consumed, mustard oil may fight bacterial infections inside the colon, intestines, urinary tract and other parts of the digestive system.
Applied directly to the skin, mustard oil can help fight fungal infections.
Mustard oil boosts the appetite and aids in digestion by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices and bile as well as stimulating the excretion system.
Some research suggests that mustard oil may have positive effects on patients suffering from sinusitis. It may also help soothe the effects of coughs, colds and other respiratory illnesses and irritants.
Mustard oil deters insects and may be an effective mosquito repellent, which can be useful in preventing malaria and other disease carried by the insect.
Anti-Inflammatory & Pain Relief
Applied topically, mustard oil has been known to relieve the painful effects of rheumatism and arthritis as well as help soothe sprained ankles and other such joint aches and pains.
The high vitamin E content of mustard oil helps improve skin health. Applied topically it may also help protect the skin from ultraviolet light and other pollutants.