Monday June 18, 2018

Mustard oil benefits revealed by Indian chefs

Mustard oil is one of the best-suited for Indian homes because of its versatility.

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Mustard Oil. Image source: www.boldsky.com
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Mustard oil has been used for centuries as a food additive and remains a staple in a majority of Indian homes. Incorporating mustard oil into your daily diet is known to protect against heart disease. The oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, both of which help lower bad cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol hence maintaining one’s cholesterol balance, which in turn leads to healthy cardiac functioning.

“Mustard oil also works well as an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent and can help fight bacterial infections in the digestive system,” Executive Chef Arun Sundararaj told IANS. “From the taste point of view, mustard oil is an acquired taste for most people. Although pungent in character, mustard oil brings tremendous flavours to any dish. I believe that there is no ingredient that comes close to it — mustard oil has a unique texture to it. At the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, we use mustard oil in dishes such as Mustard Prawns and Bhatti Murgh,” he said.

At the same time, Sundararaj adds, “It is recommended that one does not use mustard oil as the sole medium for cooking and instead uses a combination of different oils depending on the dish you are cooking. Mustard oil has a high smoking point and as a result, is ideal for deep frying.”

Executive Chef Sonu Koithara had a similar take on the benefits from the health and palate point of view of cooking in mustard oil. Noting that mustard oil has culinary as well as therapeutic uses, Koithara told IANS: “It has an edge over other oils due to the optimum ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and its low content of saturated fats. It contains about 60 per cent monounsaturated fats (MUFA), as well as polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), and saturated fats. These fatty acids are considered ‘good fats’.”

Mustard oil benefits
Benefits of Mustard oil revealed by Indian Chefs. Pixabay

He also pointed to research which suggests that mustard oil has strong cancer-fighting properties and that it contains ample amounts of linolenic acid, which when converted to omega-3 fatty acid, helps prevent cancers. “Mustard oil also benefits the heart as it contains rich amounts of MUFA and PUFA as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These good fats lower the risk of developing heart diseases and is also a very powerful natural stimulant and improves digestion and appetite by stimulating digestive juices,” Koithara explained.

Umesh Verma, DGM (Corporate Communications) at Puri Oil Mills Ltd, the makers of P Mark mustard oil, said: “Mustard oil is the preferred choice of generations of chefs across traditional Indian cuisine spanning Kashmir, Punjab and West Bengal as it brings alive the flavour of food.

“Indians like to carry the taste of India to whichever country they move to — and find ingenious ways to track down their favourite brands in those countries. We keep hearing of our mustard oil being available in the US and in various European cities. It’s a great feeling.”

Are there any foods that particularly lend themselves to being cooked in mustard oil? The oil is one of the best-suited for Indian homes because of its versatility, Sundararaj said, adding it complements Indian spices and beautifully brings out the flavours of our food.

“While mustard oil complements both vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients, dishes such as pickles of all kinds taste best when made in mustard oil. In addition, mustard oil can be used as a salad dressing along with lemon and honey. “Also there are many Bengali fish preparations like sarson bata maach, paturi fish and other dishes like mangsho (mutton), murgir jhol (chicken) are best enjoyed when cooked in mustard oil,” he said. For, Koithara, the use of mustard oil in Bengali food “is immense and it absolutely complements the Bengali palate. Foods like Shorshe bata ilish and Chingri bhapa are delicacies that cannot do without the generous use of mustard oil”.

Any other thoughts they’d like to share on the subject? “There are some ingredients that can never be replaced in the Indian kitchen and mustard oil is one such essential because of its unique and pungent flavour,” Sundararaj said.

Pointing to mustard oil’s immense health benefits, Koithara said it is very good during winter as it produces body heat and protects the body from cold. “For this reason, people in Rajasthan use mustard oil on their bodies during winter to keep the skin supple and themselves healthy. Additionally, mustard oil has been used extensively as a cure for cold and cough for decades,” he added. IANS

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This Way Tobacco Smoke Can Affect Your Heart

Moreover, chain smoking might also decrease the sperm's ability to fertilise eggs

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This Way Tobacco Smoke Can Affect Your Heart
This Way Tobacco Smoke Can Affect Your Heart. Pixabay

While the popular belief is that smoking largely affects the lungs because they get directly exposed to inhaled smoke, health experts warn that it also impacts the entire cardiovascular system.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco is globally the second leading cause of heart diseases after high blood pressure. Nearly 12 per cent of cardiovascular deaths worldwide occur due to tobacco abuse and secondhand smoking.

In tobacco cigarette, there is combustion, a burning of an organic material that generates temperatures up to 900 degree Celsius. Chronic exposure to this tends to thicken blood vessels, making them weaker in the long run. This can lead to blood clots and ultimately result in stroke or peripheral heart diseases.

“Inhaling the smoke from tobacco builds fatty material — atheroma — in the heart of the smoker which then damages the inner lining of arteries and also narrows them further,” Tapan Ghose, Director & HOD, Cardiology at Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, told IANS.

“This narrowing can cause the angina, stroke or heart attack,” he added.

Further, the presence of nicotine in the cigarettes raises the blood pressure, which can have a detrimental effect on the heart’s oxygen balance.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Nicotine causes thickening of the blood vessels, which hampers the blood flow and also causes high blood pressure or hypertension,” Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant, Cardio Thoracic & Vascular Surgery at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.

Tobacco also has carbon monoxide, which blends with haemoglobin in the blood more easily than oxygen does, thus affecting the oxygen supply in the body.

The carbon monoxide prevents the blood system from effectively carrying oxygen around the body, specifically to vital organs such as the heart and brain, the experts said, adding that apart from regular smokers, those who inhale the smoke passively may also be at risk.

WHO states that of the seven million lives that tobacco claims worldwide each year, almost 900,000 are passive-smokers.

Tobacco, whether smoked, swallowed, or chewed poses multiple hazards. In addition to affecting the lungs and heart, it also increases the risk of head and neck, lung, esophageal, pancreatic, and urologic cancers.

According to a recent study published in The Journal of Physiology, smoking could directly damage the muscles by reducing the number of blood vessels in leg muscles, which in turn reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients the muscles receive.

This may impact the metabolism and activity levels.

Moreover, smoking also affects both male and female fertility, doctors said.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Women smoking tobacco reduce their chances of conceiving by at least 60 per cent and is also linked to ectopic pregnancy and other tubal factor infertility,” Sagarika Aggarwal, an IVF expert at Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS.

On the other hand, male smokers can suffer from decreased sperm quality with lower mobility and increased numbers of abnormally-shaped sperms.

Moreover, chain smoking might also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilise eggs.

Besides causing infertility, tobacco during pregnancy can also lead to multiple issues ranging from miscarriage to under-development of the foetus and making the child susceptible to various forms of disorder such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Goel noted.

Quitting is the best way, the experts said while discouraging the use of alternatives like e-cigarettes.

“While it is true that e-cigarettes have less quantity of tobacco as compared to regular cigarettes, bidis or hookah, but they also expose lungs, heart and other organs to very high levels of toxic substances,” Goel said.

Also Read: U.S. Tobacco Companies Must Put New Warnings on Packaging, Court Says

Other measures like clinical interventions, counselling and behavioural therapies can help people quit tobacco abuse.

“Nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers etc, has been found to be effective. Combination therapy with drugs like bupropion has been found to be more effective than nicotine replacement alone,” said Viveka Kumar, Senior Director, Max Heart & Vascular Institute, Saket.

Kumar also emphasised on the role of mass media in spreading awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco, while curbing the easy access to tobacco, especially among the younger vulnerable population.

“Availability and accessibility of smoking cessation programmes to smokers who want to stop smoking remains an area which needs to be addressed,” Kumar said. (IANS)