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Mustard Oil: Dispelling the Myths and Embracing the Benefits

Updated: Jun 18

Mustard Oil: Dispelling the Myths and Embracing the Benefits
Mustard Oil: Dispelling the Myths and Embracing the Benefits

An article by a team of doctors and scientists recently published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology clearly establishes the baselessness of the controversial claim in Western scientific circles about Mustard Oil being bad for the heart.

The team points out that the claim is based on very limited evidence which indicated that the high erucic acid in Mustard Oil caused cardiac lipidosis in rats. This was a small study – it was never followed up with more expansive studies, nor was it extended to human subjects.

The limited evidence formed the basis for the ban imposed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) on the use of Mustard Oil for cooking. Currently, marketers can sell Mustard Oil in the US only if it is labelled “For External Use Only”. There are some scientists and analysts who suspect that the weak evidence was used as a ploy for protecting America’s powerful soybean oil lobby.

New studies conducted subsequently have revealed a very different picture. These studies show that erucic acid may actually improve dyslipidaemia in humans and reduce the risk of coronary vascular disease (CVD).

Across India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, cold-pressed Mustard Oil is widely used as the primary cooking and deep-frying medium. Its significant health benefits have been ratified by doctors, cardiologists and, in India, by the Lipid Association of India (LAI). And there is a widely recognized landmark study by the Harvard School of Medicine in conjunction with AIIMS, New Delhi and St John’s Hospital, Bangalore that showed a whopping CVD risk reduction rate of more than 70 per cent for Mustard Oil consumers.

Australia, New Zealand and 27 European Union countries do not agree with the USFDA’s stance – they permit the use of Mustard Oil for cooking, albeit with certain recommendations regarding the upper limit of intake.

Now that science has busted the myth of Mustard Oil being bad for the heart, the US should remove the ban on using Mustard Oil for cooking – a ban that, for starters, was founded on very flimsy evidence. 

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