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Pungency is the key in mustard oil (Tasting Notes)

IANS  |  New Delhi 

has a unique pungent flavour and aroma -- it tingles your throat and gives you a buzz in the nose. This is the essential characteristic of and yes, it certainly is something of an acquired taste and makes it pharmacologically a

Many people who aren't accustomed to this aspect find the pungency factor a difficult attribute to handle -- but for those who have grown up with this mouth-watering taste, it's the highlight of the dining experience.

Indeed, for people who have grown up or lived in places like Kashmir, Punjab, Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, oil is a familiar taste. But in the last decade or so, many have started using this oil, attracted by a positive buzz circulating across various media and on

The beginning of this trend can be traced to 2004 when a study conducted jointly by the Harvard School of Medicine, Boston; the All (AIIMS), New Delhi; and St. John's Hospital, Bengaluru, was published in of Clinical Nutrition.

This landmark research initiative examined Indian dietary habits and their correlation with heart disease, and found that the use of mustard oil as the primary cooking medium (particularly for deep frying) could reduce the incidence of coronary (CHD) by as much as 71 percent. This made many sit up and take notice, especially since was already rampaging through large sections of the population.

The characteristic pungency of mustard oil has also been leveraged for clearing congestion in the respiratory tract and for curing and colds through inhalation and Its use is also said to be beneficial for patients.

Dr. Pragya Gupta, of Mills Limited, the company that manufactures P Oil, says" "Our brand has always been known for its quality and purity as is controlled scientifically to retain its valuable bioactive compounds -- and traditional customers know it very well. Just a whiff of the pungency is enough to tell you the oil is high quality, Our cold-pressing process is backed by 52 quality checks which ensure that all the natural goodness of AITC (allylisothiocyanate) is intact."

Where does mustard oil derive its pungency from? The answer lies in the admirable constituents that Mother Nature has imbued mustard with. When mustard seeds are crushed through cold-pressing (also called cold compression), an enzyme called myronsinase is released. Mustard also contains a called sinigrin. The combination of myronsinase and sinigrin produces AITC, which is responsible for the characteristic pungency of mustard oil.

sometimes look for a product with lower levels of pungency. Sadly, this is the nutritional equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater! The real value of mustard oil as a lies in its pungency, in addition to a good combination of fatty acids, i.e. low in A significant portion of the multi-faceted health benefits offered by mustard oil is attributable to the pungency factor.

The traditional Indian Kolhu method of is known to have been around since 2000 BCE. Since ancient times, the Kolhu -- a wooden receptacle used as a rotary unit -- was turned by an ox or a buffalo yoked to the unit, walking around in circles. Thus, the happened at a low temperature, which is essential for keeping AITC intact.

Later, the technology shifted to the use of expellers with This methodology raises seed temperature to between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius. At such high temperatures, AITC evaporates and the pungency is lost. Along with this, the health benefits of mustard oil are also lost. Recognising this problem, today's more modern/technically advanced expellers use a water-cooled chamber as part of the extraction process to ensure low crushing temperatures.

So what's the big deal about AITC? Well, it's the real deal. AITC is proven to have powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. These attributes make mustard oil a powerful detoxification agent, fighting in various parts of your body -- in particular, the colon, the stomach, the intestines and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract. The consumption of mustard oil is especially useful in fighting e.coli and

According to a report in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, AITC has "the properties of a chemo-preventive agent". These properties have proven to be useful in the treatment of colon and colorectal

Owing to the significant health benefits delivered by AITC, mustard oil is healthy even for external usage. When it is used for massage, it tones the skin, reinvigorates the skin cells and prevents various -- in particular.

A study in the Journal of the found that mustard oil mixed in equal parts with honey was effective in killing dental bacteria. Since ancient times, Indians have always known that a mixture of mustard oil and salt prevents and and

So, don't shy away from pungency when you buy and use mustard oil. It is the real value... the real health giver... the real gift bestowed upon us by Mother Nature.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 11:40 IST