“Banning mustard oil blending will benefit farmers and lead to higher production of healthier alternatives”

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The Indian Food Safety Authority (FSSAI) has banned the mixing of mustard oil with any other oil. Mixing edible oils was first approved by the Government of India in the 1990s. After the dropsy outbreak (due to mustard oil adulteration) in the late 1990s, the government pushed for mustard oil to be mixed with other edible oils.

Experts see the decision of the FSSAI as a great opportunity for the mustard farmers in India and the replacement of traditional canola mustard oil varieties with canola mustard in order to provide a healthy oil for human consumption and to reduce India’s dependence on oil imports.

VIRENDER SARDANA, Senior Agronomist and Responsible, Department of Oilseeds, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, speaks with ANJU AGNIHOTRI CHABA about what makes rapeseed-rapeseed-mustard oil the healthiest oil for human consumption.

What are the benefits of vegetable oils?

The daily intake of a certain minimum amount of fats is necessary for physical and mental well-being. The nutritional guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the consumption of 30 g visible (vegetable oil or animal fat) and invisible (obtained from grain, millet, pulses, vegetables, etc.) per person per day.

One gram of vegetable oil provides 9 kcal (kilocalories) of energy compared to 4 kcal of energy obtained from one gram of grains or legumes.

These fats are also carriers of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K to different parts of the body. These vegetable oils are also main sources of antioxidants (tocopherols) and phytosterols and suppliers of various minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium.

Soy, rapeseed mustard, peanut, sunflower, sesame, thistle and niger plants are the main sources of edible oils. Oil made from rice bran, corn or maize, cottonseed and various tree-based oilseeds (TBO) such as coconut, palm and olives is also used for edible purposes, directly or after being mixed with traditional cooking oils.

What are the quality parameters of edible oils?

The quality of any oil is determined by its fatty acid composition, which differs from oil to oil. There are three types of fatty acids in every oil including saturated fatty acids (SFAs), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

The PUFAs are also known as essential fatty acids. The proportion of SFAs in vegetable oils is generally low, with the exception of coconut oil and palm oil. It is known that higher consumption of SFAs increases low density lipoprotein (LDL), bad cholesterol, which is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The WHO recommends that total saturated fat consumption should be less than 10 percent of total energy intake. The MUFA acts as a cholesterol scavenger and produces high density lipoproteins (HDL / good cholesterol). The PUFAs are known to lower blood cholesterol, especially the harmful LDL, and to increase HDL, which plays a role in transporting excess blood cholesterol to the liver for breakdown and excretion.

Vegetable oils are the main source of PUFAs such as Omega 6 and Omega 3. However, an oil rich in PUFAs is unstable at very high temperatures and is converted to trans fats and is therefore not recommended for cooking or frying. The intake of trans fats should not be more than 1 percent of the total energy intake. In general, however, high-quality oil should only be taken in moderation.

What is the ideal cooking oil?

An ideal cooking oil is one that contains healthy fats and nutrients and does not break down when heated.

Which oil meets this quality?

Among the various sources of vegetable oils, canola mustard oil is mainly used for cooking and frying because it fulfills most of the properties sought by dietary fats and oils. It has a high smoke point (240-250 degrees Celsius), is low in saturated fatty acids (less than 10 percent) and contains a relatively balanced proportion of essential fatty acids such as omega 6 and omega 3.

This is in contrast to very high levels of saturated fatty acids in coconut (91 percent), palm (51 percent) oils, peanut, soybean, corn and cottonseed oils (15 percent). Canola mustard oil contains around 20-35 percent PUFAs, which is higher than those in olive, coconut, palm, or corn oils (usually 10 percent or less). Sesame, niger, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils contain 45-70 percent PUFA. Rapeseed mustard oil has a better ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 (1: 2) than soybean oil (1: 8).

A balanced ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 effectively reduces the risk of heart disease. Canola mustard oil is also a rich source of plant sterols and vitamin E, which protects the body from cardiovascular disease and contains higher levels of plant sterols and vitamin E than soybean and corn oils. It contains higher plant sterols than sunflower, which is rich in vitamin E.

Canola mustard is a group of plants that includes Indian mustard / raya / laha, Indian rapeseed / toria, yellow sarson, brown sarson, rapeseed / gobhi sarson, and Ethiopian mustard / African sarson and taramira that are used as cooking oil. The rapeseed mustard family also includes black mustard / Banarasi Rai (mainly as a spice for preparing pickles etc.) and cauliflower / cabbage / broccoli.

Is rapeseed mustard oil then the best for consumption?

Not really, because rapeseed mustard oil from conventional (traditional) varieties contains a high proportion (40-50 percent) of eruca fatty acid (monounsaturated fatty acids) and a low proportion of omega 9. Regular consumption of oil with more than 20 percent erucic acid in the Food can cause arteries to thicken, which can lead to diseases such as myocardial fibrosis in adults and lipidosis in children.

Can erucic acid from rapeseed mustard oil be reduced?

The need to lower the harmful erucic acid in oil has led to the development of low erucic acid varieties in canola mustard plants. Canola mustard varieties with “low Erucic” (less than 2 percent) or “Null Erucic” were referred to as “rapeseed” varieties.

The term “canola”, which literally means “Canadian oil, low acid”, was coined in Canada by the Western Canadian Oilseeds Crushers Association, where the first variety of its kind was developed.

A decrease in erucic acid in rapeseed oil is also associated with a corresponding increase in the nutritionally desirable MUFA. Rapeseed-rapeseed mustard oil contains a higher proportion (up to 67 percent) of omega 9 than conventional rapeseed mustard.

Other commonly used edible oils like olive oil contain omega 9 (about 70-75 percent), peanut (50 percent), rice bran, corn, cottonseed, palm, thistle, soy, sesame and sunflower (less than 50 percent), coconut oil (8 percent) ). Rapeseed oil does it even better than olive oil, which contains the highest amount of omega-9, but also higher amounts of SFAs (15 percent) and much less omega-6 (8-10 percent) and a negligible amount of omega-3 ( 1-3 percent) compared to rapeseed oil, which contains 7-8 percent or 18-22, 8-12.

Peanut, soy, corn, sunflower, sesame, Niger, and safflower oils contain higher levels (32-75 percent) of omega 6, but higher levels of PUFA make the oil unstable and potentially more susceptible to higher temperatures the production of trans fats.

After all these comparable properties with other oils, canola rapeseed mustard oil is now a preferred edible oil and the most in demand worldwide. Nutritional studies have shown that rapeseed’s unique fatty acid profile helps mitigate factors associated with coronary artery disease, including high cholesterol and thrombosis.

In advanced countries such as the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc., rapeseed mustard may only be used as edible oil according to the rapeseed standard, and oil from non-rapeseed varieties is used for energy production (biofuel) or) for commercial purposes. They do not allow the consumption of rapeseed mustard oil with more than 2 percent erucic acid.

Canola-grade canola mustards make the flour much safer for dairy cattle and poultry, where it is used as the preferred source of protein.

How is rapeseed growing in India?

Rape varieties are grown in different parts of the country. In Punjab, farmers mostly only grow rapeseed mustard of rapeseed quality (mainly Gobhi Sarson). Rape varieties are also grown in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Rajasthan. But traditional varieties are also grown on large areas.

PAU has developed and approved three varieties – GSC 5 (2004), GSC 6 (2007) and GSC 7 (2014) and a hybrid PGSH 1707 (2020) – from Gobhi Sarson in rapeseed quality (double low) for commercial cultivation. PAU has also launched a rape variety RLC 3 (2015) and a hybrid RCH 1 (2019) of rape raya. In addition, a canola Gobhi Sarson hybrid developed by a private company was recommended for cultivation in the state.

The ICAR – Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, has also developed a rapeseed quality variety PDZ 1 from Raya (2015).

In the past, PAU and ICAR IARI have also developed a number of low erucic acid raya varieties, namely RLC 1 and RLC 2 (from PAU) and Pusa Krishma, Pusa Mustard 21, Pusa Mustard 22, Pusa Mustard 24, Pusa Mustard 28, Pusa mustard 29, Pusa mustard 30 and Pusa mustard 32 (from ICAR IARI). Growing these varieties is becoming increasingly popular in various mustard growing areas in the country.

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