25 Jun MUSTARD OIL : A GEM OF A EDIBLE OIL
Vegetable oils are the single most important source of essential fatty acids in Indian diet. Among all the vegetable oils, mustard oil is indispensable to Indian cuisine. Mustard/rapeseed oil is characterized by low level of saturated fatty acids (SFA), a relatively high level of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), moderate level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and appreciable amount of the n-3 fatty acids (alpha- linolenic acid), proteins(30%), isothiocynate, phenolics, phytins and diathiol thiaones.
The content of saturated fatty acids which are known to increase the cholesterol level (viz. Lauric, mystric and palmitic) which is not good for heart is only 5-8%. Higher level of MUFA and PUFA provide the advantage of lowering total cholesterol of plasma and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as protective affect against oxidation of LDL. The fairly high level of phyto-sterols present in the oil are also reported to low plasma cholesterol level by absorption of dietary cholesterol and the re-absorption of billary cholesterol.
Apart from the aforementioned scientific virtues, Mustard Oil is the most preferred medium of cooking for housewives in India, especially in northern and eastern India. This is largely because mustard oil is least absorbed in the food and it is also because of the special aromatic flavour that the oil lends to the food. Mustard seed acts like a condiment in vegetables.
In India it is impossible to pickle in any other oil except mustard oil. Pickles makes Indian food more delicious and attractive. Mustard oil is an excellent preservative because of which housewives prefer to use mustard oil in preparing pickles, sauces, ketchup, chutnies etc. Without mustard oil we can not imagine the taste of pickles.