생 들기름 (Raw Perilla Oil)
I’m sure you’ve heard about how important it is to incorporate more omega-3’s in our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are great to keep our heart healthy, our skin supple and inflammation under control. If we are eating fish regularly, this shouldn’t be a problem. But what about vegetarians or people who don’t like fish? How can they make sure they are getting this essential fatty acid in their diet? In the west, we often hear about flaxseed oil or hemp oil which are both great sources of this essential fatty acids, but how easy are they to find in Korea?
Perilla oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. And can be found easily in Korea. The oil is derived from the seeds. How wonderful is it that we are able to find perilla oil right here in Korea? Personally, I believe there are benefits to eating locally…but that’s a post for another time.
Perilla seed oil is like the cousin of sesame oil. It’s an aromatic, golden oil with a distinctive nutty flavour. It’s absolutely delicious.
The main health benefit of perilla seed oil is the omega-3 fatty acid content
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids, also known as alpha-linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid that must be obtained through our diet. They work in our body to maintain our cell membrane permeability which allows nutrients to enter the cell and toxins to exit. In modern society, people tend to have an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance of too much omega-6 fatty acids is what contributes to many diseases and illnesses. So, consuming more omega-3 fatty acids, from any source, is ideal. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, walnuts, hemp seeds and flax seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids help our body to modulate the allergic and inflammatory responses. They also improve cardiovascular health, protect against certain types of cancer and enhance the immune system.
In a healthy body, omega-3 fatty acids can be converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are particularly great for brain health.
Perilla seed oil is a rich source of phenolic compounds, flavanoids and anthocyanins known for their antioxidant properties. Rosemarinic acid, luteolin, chrysoeriol, quercetin, catechin and apigenin are a few of the phenolic compounds found in perilla oil. These antioxidants may also be involved in allergy, antimicrobial, cardiovascular and cancer prevention along with the omega-3 fatty acids.
I haven’t had much luck finding raw perilla oil in grocery stores, but I haven’t searched very many. My local store is quite small, so they don’t have a lot of variety. But, the roasted variety is easily found.
This weekend I stumbled upon some raw perilla oil at that March Farmers Market. The price wasn’t too bad either. Their information can be found on the photo.
I do not recommend cooking with perilla seed oil. Heating the oil will damage the fats, causing them to oxidize and go rancid, thus completely negating the benefits. I use the oil as a way to flavour my food. It’s a great addition to salad dressings, drizzled on roasted vegetables or soups. My personal favourite use is on top of roasted sweet potatoes. Seriously, try it!
Look for raw perilla seed oil to get the most benefits. Most brands available roast the seeds prior to extracting the oils, which may cause the fats to oxidize and therefore damaging them. Raw, cold-pressed oils are the best form of oil to use. This goes for any oil you are using in your kitchen. Always buy oil in dark, glass bottles. Oxygen and light exposure also damage the fats.
To keep your oil freshest, purchase in the smallest quantity you’ll use before it will expire. Store the bottle away from heat and light.