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What is your Primary Cooking Oil?

Appearing on a webinar organized by the Hindustan Times media group, well-known film and television actor Debina Bonnerjee talked about Bengali families cooking all their food in cold-pressed Mustard Oil. For Bengalis, it is the primary cooking oil and has been used for generations. When Bengali mothers and grandmothers passed their traditional recipes on to the next generation, they didn’t even have to specify Mustard Oil. For them “oil” meant Mustard Oil. As Debina points out, Bengalis use Mustard Oil for pretty much everything – from cooking to deep frying, sautéing and marinating. Even for non-cooked items like boiled vegetables, she mentions the practice of sprinkling a little Mustard Oil over the finished dish – just to enhance its flavour.

This view holds true for many other regions across India where Mustard Oil has traditionally been the primary cooking oil – for instance, Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.

Medical and scientific research has cited many reasons for making Mustard Oil your primary cooking oil. The most dramatic bit of research was a study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine in partnership with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and St. John’s Hospital, Bangalore. This study found that the use of cold-pressed Mustard Oil as one’s sole or primary cooking oil could reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease by more than 70 per cent.

In addition to cardiac health, Mustard Oil is also good for blood circulation, blood pressure, controlling cholesterol (especially bad cholesterol or LDL), balancing triglycerides and the overall detoxification of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs.

So if you want to combine good food with good health, there are many, many reasons for making cold-pressed Mustard Oil your primary cooking medium. 

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